**Reblogged from November 2011**
I know there are even more things that I could do to make my life greener (like stop smoking..), but clothes is something that I know, so for me it has been an easy place to start. As you can see from the chart below, just buying clothes that are made from organic cotton, does not contribute much to the green movement (about 10%) although ad-men would love to convince us otherwise... This is the reason why cheap fast fashion brands that have try to clean up their image by lauching a small "green collection" every now and then do not get me jumping up and down from happiness. It is pure green washing for the brand. Instead you should have a good look at your own closet and the ways that you use to clean up and keep your clothes.
Consumer care amounts to almost 30% of the enviromental impact of your fashion consumption. That is the same amount as manufacturing impacts. It really makes a huge difference what laundry detergent you use and the way you take care of your wardrobe. I use Ecover (ecological) and soapnuts (complitely organic) for washing mine. Especially the soap nuts have been a positive surprise. They are 100% natural so they do not have a chemicals that could cause alllergies or bleach that fades colors in my clothes. I use them mostly on my denims as a lot of them have elastane and chemical detergents destroy it. I have also reduced the amounts that I machine wash my clothes. Instead I try to use them as many time as possible and take out to freshen up. Washing laundry less contributes to your community directly as it effects the water and energy use of your home.
I buy most of my clothes second hand which actually is a type of "locally produced". 20% of the enviromental effects in the textile industry come from logistics. Second hand clothes usually comes from near by communities so the logistics effect is minimal compared to imported clothes. Second hand clothes are recycled so the effect for raw materials and manufacturing is 0%! And if I feel like doing some impulse buying, I always go shopping from vintage and second hand to keep my fashion addiction at an acceptable level. I do buy some of my clothes and shoes new, but when I do, I make sure they are from quality materials and with a classic design (in my personal taste) so they do not break fast and I can keep using them for many seasons.
Check out the Household textile enviromental impact calculator the next time you inventory your wardrobe (yes, you should do that!). I do this clean up at least twice a year and take out all the clothes that I have not used in a year to UFF, Fida or other charities. This way if I´m not using them they are recycled fast so someone else is still able/willing to buy them while they are still in fashion.
"From the design board to the tumble dryer, textile manufacturing has a huge environmental footprint. It pollutes as much as 200 tons of water per ton of fabric, uses a suite of harmful chemicals, and consumes tremendous amounts of energy for steam and hot water needed in dyeing and finishing processes. Compounding this situation is the fact that the industry has migrated to countries abroad with still-developing environmental regulatory systems, such as China, India, Vietnam, and Bangladesh, seriously degrading local drinking water resources. Starting in China, the world’s largest center of manufacturing, NRDC’s team visited more than a dozen textile mills and selected five ‘typical’ dyeing and finishing mills for in-depth pollution prevention assessments. The assessments revealed ten simple, practical, low-cost, and quick payback opportunities to reduce water, energy, and chemical use." From Environmental Challenges of the Textile Industry - NRDC (Case study China). Although their message is clear, I think the NRDC missed an important recource is this video - recycled materials. They already exists in the market, are locally recoursable and If we´re going to keep consuming so much, they must be officially harvested better into textile business. Make them a fashion business! Top photo Jeannene Walker.