With all of the hybrid cars, sustainable furniture, and organic food on the market, people forget that clothing is found among new green products too. When it comes to green living, every purchase has an environmental impact, which means not even shirts, shoes, and accessories are exempt. The method with which a piece of clothing is produced, the material it’s made from, and its place of origin must all be considered before it can be classified as green. That information isn’t always readily available, so we’ve assembled a few pointers to help you find the best new green products you can wear.
- Look for organic. Organic food has gained immense popularity since people realized the health implications: fertilizers and pesticides help crops grow, but nobody wants to eat them. Just as significant, though, is the environmental impact of buying untreated products. Organic clothing might not expose you to pesticides and other poisons, but it still reduces the amount of chemical pollution that’s ravaging a lot of ecosystems. Cotton is one of the world’s largest crops. Supporting farmers and manufacturers who grow it without chemicals issues a powerful statement to demand less harmful farming practices.
- Investigate brands. Chances are, if a clothing company uses unethical sweatshops to assemble their products, they’re also using unethical environmental practices to distribute them. Some major companies have begun to offer greener clothing lines, and some eco-designers are becoming nationally known and available. Many, though, continue to use dangerous materials and practices. Greenpeace and other nonprofits have issued numerous studies and reports about the big name brands that violate sustainable practices. These organizations identify the clothing that contains chemicals and dyes harmful to people and the planet. Knowing what jackets and pants to avoid is integral to then finding new green products.
- Take a stance on leather. Just as vegetarianism isn’t essential to being an environmentalist, green-minded individuals don’t always have to avoid leather clothing. Like with any diet, it’s a personal decision. Farms and tanneries exist that treat their animals well and hormone-free; they’re just a little more difficult to find. If you have no objection to eating sustainably raised meat, just be sure that the leather you buy has similar ethical origins. If it’s used or vintage, a leather belt is inherently eco friendly; and new green products made of leather are available—they’re just not as common as leather taken from crowded stockyards and chemical-laden tanneries.
- When in doubt, go local. Egypt produces a tremendous amount of organic cotton, but by the time it’s shipped halfway across the world, its carbon footprint makes its sustainability negligible. Many of the best new green products are those that have been created in your city, state, or at least country. Etsy.com has revolutionized the local clothing industry, and almost every city in America has a few local boutiques. By purchasing clothes that has been sown, assembled, and sold in your community, their carbon footprint is lowered. Buying new green products that have been locally made strengthens the economy, and it leaves a much better environmental impact.