Sustainable clothing includes items which are produced in an environmentally friendly and socially responsible way from start to finish – from design, to materials/production, to store, to the consumer.
Looking to green your wardrobe this New Year? Here are some benefits of dressing to impress in a green way:
- Protecting natural resources. Reduce participation in “fast fashion” culture that promotes a quick turnaround and disposal of clothing styles that are often disposed of after one year. Large amounts of non-renewable resources are extracted to produce clothing, which can put pressure on natural resources, pollute the environment, degrade ecosystems, and create negative societal impacts locally and globally. Non-renewable resources used by the clothing industry include oil to produce synthetic fabric, fertilizer to grow cotton, and chemicals to produce, dye, and finish textiles.
- Lessen emissions. Materials which are petroleum-based count on fossil fuels. It takes less energy to make natural or recycled fibers compared to polyester, nylon, and acrylic.
- Encourage better conditions for workers. Sustainable clothing, made in an ethical way, can result in higher wages for workers, more reasonable hours/schedules, and improved health and safety conditions.
- Reduce chemical and metals exposure. Look for items with environmentally friendly chemical content certification labels. Some common clothing chemicals are PFAS dyes, chlorinated benzenes, flame retardants, formaldehyde, and more. Metals which may be found in clothing include items such as silver, lead, and mercury.
What you can do to green your wardrobe:
- Shop smart — Look for companies which have ethical practices and promote fair trade. A Health Product Declaration (HPD) and an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) on a manufacturers website can help consumers to understand the life cycle of a product.
- Be an informed consumer — Support companies that try hard to avoid waste, pollution (soil and water), and extreme energy and water usage.
- Choose vegan and cruelty-free brands. This helps safeguard animals from material sourcing and product testing. Consider items made from:
- organic cotton — grown without pesticides.
- organic hemp — this has a long history and multiple uses.
- bamboo — a form of grass which grows quickly and produces soft products.
- Be timeless, instead of trendy. Classic styles never go out of style and can save you money by purchasing quality mix-and-match pieces instead of come-and-go fashion trends.
- Repurpose and reuse items. Be creative with materials and develop your own fashion sense.
- Create your sustainable wardrobe. Thrift for “new to you” items, swap or share the pieces already in your closet, and take care of the clothing that you keep.
- Opt for circular fashion. This type of clothing takes discarded materials and reinvents them into new clothing or other textiles.
- Change your perspective – How you view clothing/fashion purchases.
- Adopt environmentally friendly laundry practices — Use detergents made with natural products. Wash in cool water instead of hot and run full loads to save water.
- Select quality over quantity — Minimalize your wardrobe with key base pieces and just own clothes you actually need and will wear on a regular basis. Look for clothes which can be used in multiple seasons to stretch a limited closet.
More information about sustainable clothing and textile reuse and recycling can be found on DEC’s website and the New York State Office of General Services’ (OGS) Green New York website as part of their lunchtime learning series.
For more tips on how to be a friend of the environment, visit DEC’s website.
Next month, be sure to keep an eye out for this newsletter as we explore the outdoors more with green “staycation” suggestions. Remember to share your sustainable clothing tips with us using #LiveGreenNY.
Green Purchasing Communities Program Launches
Good news for local governments! Governor Hochul recently announced the new Green Purchasing Communities Program, a first in the nation program that makes it easy for local governments to ensure that the products they are purchasing have a lower environmental impact. In addition, local governments that participate will receive recognition for their commitment to purchasing green products and services. Learn more at the Green Purchasing Communities Program website.
Benefits to local governments of becoming a Green Purchasing Community:
- Adopting a simple-to-administer green purchasing program.
- Moving the market in a more sustainable direction.
- Being recognized for their commitment to the environment.
- Getting points towards Climate Smart Communities Certification.
Local governments that become a green purchasing community com
Applying and becoming a Green Purchasing Community is as easy as 1, 2… that’s it!
- Add model language that states the local government will follow GreenNY specifications to the government’s purchasing policy
. This is passed by the local government’s legislative body or other body that handles procurement policy.
- Submit the application, along with the resolution approving the addition of the model language, and a copy of the new purchasing policy to email@example.com.
The Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of General Services are hosting a webinar on January 17, 2023, at 2 p.m., for potential applicants. The webinar will provide an overview of the new Green Purchasing Communities Program and how local governments can participate. Those interested can register for the webinar.
Additional information is available on the Green Purchasing Communiti
We currently do many of the things listed in this article for a few reasons, primarily the environment, economics and helping those less fortunate.
Are there economic and ‘green’ methods for fur tanning? I imagine the Goretex, Thinsulate etc. I wear comes at an environmental price. (I do own a lot of wool.)
I am very interested in where animal fur falls into the environmental landscape. There are many furbearers that can be harvested in large numbers without significant impact on the population, beaver, coyote, fox & raccoon come to mind.
There’s a really great podcast called Clotheshorse, which dives into all kinds of nooks and crannies on this topic.