Sisterhood Agenda

Saving the Earth One Garment at a Time

Samantha Lengquist

Eco-friendly fashion means that we can be both fashionable and eco-friendly (kind to Mother Earth) at the same time.  Did you know that the fashion industry is the second most wasteful industry in the world? This is extremely alarming especially since it is 2% of the world’s gross domestic product.

Landfills are filling up with clothing items due to fluctuating fads and the skyrocketing popularity of low-cost fashion retailers. Styles change frequently and retailers count on us opening our wallets for the must-have look of the season.

Rapid manufacturing processes are turning out low-quality materials and poorly assembled clothes. In addition to the waste pile-up, there are other environmental damages that can be caused during the manufacturing stages.

Improper disposal of chemicals and dyes have become a serious issue. Water wastage is another huge problem. The cotton clothing we all love can consume 5,000 gallons of water from the process of growing the cotton to the manufacture of a simple shirt and jeans.

There are ways to help eliminate some of the waste and help the environment. That is, by recycling your clothes. Upcycling, to be specific.

Upcycling is where you take an old garment that you plan to discard for whatever reason and modify it in a way you will now use it again. About 95% of the fabrics that are thrown out can be repurposed.

Upcycling also gives you a chance to connect with your creative side by revamping old clothes that are still functional, just no longer fashionable. For example, an old pair of jeans can be altered completely by distressing, adding patches, paint, and so much more.

You’re only limited by your imagination. It is also important to keep in mind just because something is out of style now doesn’t mean it won’t come back in style in a slightly modified way. Fashion history has shown this to be true. If an article of clothing has just totally worn out or is unwearable the fabric can be cut and made into cleaning cloths, accessories like headbands or bows, grocery or errand bags, and even household décor.

Thrift and second-hand stores are also a great resource to visit and donate to. Donating to thrift stores helps your local community, the environment, and you can usually claim a charitable deduction it on your taxes. While you’re there, you might as well shop.

As mentioned above, some trends do come back so these shops are actually ideal to find vintage pieces that have regained popularity, and are being sold at clothing retailers for double to triple the price.

As you can see, there are many ways to be involved and make a conscious effort to care for the earth we all share. So next time, before you buy at a retailer, think about what you already have and what you can reuse.

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