Have you hopped on the Marie Kondo bandwagon and cleaned out your closets? I did and was surprised at how many clothes I had completely forgotten about! It was as if I had just gone on a shopping spree. I made a pledge to myself right then and there – no new clothes for 2019! Yep, this fashion addict is shooting to go a whole year without buying a single new piece of clothing because it turns out Ineednothing. I may wantthat cute new pair of jeans – but I know I don’t need it, so I’m making myself go on a clothes diet. I’m excited about reducing my impact on the environment of course, but I am also excited not to be wasting $$ on things I just don’t need. Today’s consumerism world tries to convince us we need to spend to be happy, but all of that buying takes a toll on our stress levels, not to mention the stress it puts on the earth. So, will you help a girl out and Go Clothes-LESS with me? Don’t worry - I am not asking you to go Clothes-LESS for a whole year, but maybe you could try it for the month of March? Or you could follow My Green Friend Lauren’s pledge to go “fast-fashion” Clothes-LESS, only buying sustainably sourced or reused clothes. Or you could adopt any of the other eco-tips below to simply be more mindful of the quality and quantity of the clothes you buy. I want to get us into the Everyday Eco-Habit of thinking consciously about each and every article of clothing we purchase to make more sustainable choices. To help inspire us, My Green Friend and sustainable fashion expert, Derek Sabor, will share his wisdom with us and will be donating some awesome sustainable apparel from his Kozmline to 3 lucky people who Pledge to take action – check out my insta (@kim_ecohabits) for details.
In addition to reducing our waste, we will also feel good knowing we are preventing boatloads of pollution from entering our earth because it turns out the fashion industry is the second largest polluting industry in the world, after the oil industry! Pollution from the fashion industry is degrading our soils, destroying our rainforests, adding chemicals to our waterways, contributing to global climate change, accumulating waste, polluting our waters, and consuming earth’s precious resources! This is particularly true with fast-fashion, a term I only recently learned means“cheap clothes made in abundance”. Fast-fashion is a hugeproblem in the Western World. Did you know onet-shirt requires 2,700 litersof water to make? And onepair of jeans requires 10,000 gallons of water! It takes tons of water to grow cotton, dye the fabrics, and then wash the fabrics clean. It is estimated India’s textile industry alone uses 425 million gallonsof water per day! Not only that, many of the textile factories in developing countries are not properly regulated. This means the water they use is then dumped into nearby rivers and waterways. These waters are then filled with endocrine disruptors, chemicals, and other harmful materials that affect the local citizens and aquatic life and can eventually lead into the ocean.
The fashion industry is also a huge contributor to global climate change, accounting for 10% of global climate emissions. It uses more energy than the aviation and shipping industry combined! One article states the fashion industry alone may use a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050.
Then there is the problem of where all these clothes end up. It turns out Americans send 12.8 million tons of clothes o landfills every year!Forbes states this is a football field filled 14 feet deep with clothes. That’s a lot of yoga pants! Since many of these fast-fashion pieces are made from plastics, like polyester and nylon, they can sit for up to 200 years, all the while leaching chemicals and dyes into nearby soil. Just take it to a thrift store, you say? In reality, only about 10%of donated clothes get resold. And only about 1% is actually recycled into new clothes.
On top of all of this, by simply washing clothes we may be substantially adding to the ocean pollution problem. Do you have any synthetic clothes in your house, like acrylic, nylon, or polyester? These synthetic fibers are being broken down and released in our washing machines - anywhere from 1,000-1 million fibers per garment! These microscopic fibers travel into our waterways and into our oceans and eventually into the mouths of little fish and travel right on up the food chain. That means that, yes, youcould be eating your plastic clothes! There are many other ethical and environmental factors that are detrimental in the fashion industry. If you want to find out more, I highly recommend the movie True Cost.
But, not to fear, I’m here to help you look good and feel great too! And so is the sustainable fashion industry, which is growing rapidly and doing so much to change the way people look at and enjoy clothes. Did you see the Red Carpet Green Dress gowns worn by Laura Harrier from Oscar nominated film BlacKkKlansman and Dumplin’ Actress Danielle Macdonald at the Oscars? Those were all made from sustainable materials. I love this organization started by My Green Friend Suzy Amis Cameron that showcases how fashion does not have to sacrifice beauty or quality to be eco-friendly. I was able to interview Suzy at Red Carpet Green Dress’s Pre-Oscars Party to learn more about the sustainable fashion movement, which you can catch on my social (@kim_ecohabits). The good news? There are plentyof simple, Everyday Eco-Habits you can adopt to Go Clothes-LESS and become a sustainable fashion icon:
· Choose clothes made with materials that have a low environmental impact (think recycled or organic cotton, flax, or linen.) Here is an awesome, simple list of eco-friendly fibers to check out. I just learned of this one for athleisure called Pact Organic.
· Find eco-fashion brands on Good On You, an awesome new freeapp that’s the world’s leading rating system on ethical and sustainable fashion. The app provides trusted ethical brand ratings for more than 1,100 fashion brands, including women’s, men’s and children’s clothes. Another resource is Remake, a nonprofit focused on making fashion a force for good. And check out Role Models Management, a modeling agency which focuses on progressive values such as sustainability and ethical manufacturing so that their models are agents of change.
· Buy clothes from sustainable clothing brands. Large companies like Volcom, Madewell, and H&M are making progress to be more environmentally-minded. In fact, H&M aims to be 100% circular, by sourcing 100% sustainable cotton by 2020 and 100% recycled or other sustainably sourced materials by 2030. And then there are these sustainable fashion labels owned by celebrities.
· Buy clothes that use recycled materials. My personal favorite has always been Patagonia- it’s the gold standard, but I am hearing good things about Everlane too. Many retailers are becoming more eco-conscious by using repreve yarn made from plastic bottles!
· Buy at a thrift store or trendy reuse store like Buffalo Exchange (you can even sell your clothes back to them!).
· Try to buy clothes that are high quality and will last a long time. If taken care of properly, these clothes can be worn many times more than fast-fashion clothing. Need some help getting started? Join the revolution at Buy Me Once.
· Rentyour clothes, especially for fancy parties or weddings. A few of my favorites include Rent the Runway, Vince,and Le Tote. I tried Rent the Runway last year and loved it. You can still have a great time enjoying fashion without buying anything!
· Have a swap party and trade clothes with friends!
· Be mindful of how you wash your clothes. The average household does around 400 loads of laundry per year! That’s around 60,000 liters of water. Check out this super fun, informative video from the UK about #whatsinmywash.
· Donate your old clothes to people in need. A few of my favorites are Becca’s Closet that donates used gowns to girls in need and Dress for Success that donates business attire and does so much more to help women achieve success.
· Bring your used clothes back to your favorite stores to get discounts (it doesn’t get any better than that!). Stores like H&M and Madewell will properly reuse or recycle your clothes, often adding a discount to their store for your donation. Check out these clever PSAs they did with some of your fav celebs. Here is a list of even more stores that accept donations for discounts.
· And, finally… join me in my Pledge not to buy any new clothes for the month of March. Or follow My Green Friend Lauren’s Pledge to go “fast-fashion” Clothes-LESS, only buying sustainably sourced or reused clothes. Take your Pledge on my Instagram @kim-ecohabitsand tag three friends to join you (if they join you, then you won’t be missing out on them shopping without you)!