Eco-Friendly Ways to Buy Clothing

This past weekend, I went to a Consignment shop in nearby neighborhood with my fiance. I used to always hate going into places with used clothing when I was a child because it was not the “hip” thing to do. She has always loved to go into Consignment shops to find cool fabrics to make things with.

This really got me thinking about the the environmental impacts that clothes could be have. So, I decided to do a little research on the topic of clothing as it relates to the environment. I found an interesting article from Organic Consumers that talks about the effects of being wasteful when it comes to buying clothing:

Like most things you buy today, clothes are intended to phase out of fashion. As we attempt to keep up with fashion trends we end up accumulating more and more in our closets. Spurring on new buying, clothing prices have dropped 25%, and the volume of clothing we purchase has increased 75% between 1992 and 2002.

The worst part about all the clothes bought is not necessarily how the clothes are made, but the clothes hangers. Wire hangers cannot be recycled because the quality and quantity of metal contained in each hanger make it not worth recycling. Even if they decide to use wooden hangers, they are usually treated with dangerous chemicals.

Its pretty scary of all of the negative aspects associated with buying new clothing from retailers. After giving it some thought, I determined a few ways that we as the consumer can make a difference.

  • Buying used clothing
  • Buying Sustainable Clothing
  • Choose quality over quantity

As with most people, I don’t see myself buying used clothing very often especially when it comes to business clothing. But, buying used clothing can be a huge savings benefit. There were clothes a little as a $1 while I was at the Consignment shop. I was really shocked at how many designer brands and new looking clothes they had. It is definitely worth considering before making your next trip to the mall to buy new clothing.

Another alternative is to buy eco-friendly clothes. A local new station in Minnesota wrote an article about Eco-Friendly Clothing
as an alternative when buying clothing. Birch Clothing is a small company that sells items produced from sustainable and recycle materials. They also use fair labor standards and produce their clothes in America. I have purchased from a similar company to Birch Clothing called American Apparel in the past and have been pleased with the quality and comfort of their clothes. Stores like these have slightly higher prices than traditional clothing stores, but are worth considering if you want to go green when buying clothes.

My favorite choice of the three is to just buy higher quality clothes in lower quantities. It’s that simple. I have been following this philosophy for years now. You can spend much less on clothing because you will be buying far less clothes and they will last you much longer. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to buy the designer brands and spend huge amounts of money to get good quality. There are many high quality clothing brands that are moderately priced. The biggest thing is to stay away from buying clothes that are trendy as you will probably not wear them very long. If you buy clothes that fits well and has a simple design, you can’t go wrong.

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  1. Great post!

    I have been trying to “spend more and get less” for new purchases, but it sounds funny!

    I mostly buy used – it makes so much sense especially for kids clothes – they grow so fast and the high end thrift store stuff is so nice quality…cheaper than Sears and Walmart too!


  2. I also was not a fan of buying used when I was in school. But with kids of my own and the fact that I want to be environmentally friendly in every way I can, I now frequent the thrift stores. I always find great clothes at great prices.

    • Pays to Live Green
    • October 29th, 2008

    I totally forgot about kids clothing. A great way to really save on buying new clothes and be eco friendly is to just pass the clothes down. My parents did it with me as I was the second of 2 children and I wore most of my brother’s clothes. He grew out of them so quickly that most of them were brand new. This was mostly for when I was younger because it gets much tougher to do once kids reach a certain age.

  3. There is a great online eco boutique. It’s small and I’ve had the opportunity to get to know the owner and she is completely committed to the green movement in the clothing industry. So, if your readers want to check it out it’s I also do a feature every saturday on my blog talking about the clothes she carries :) good article!

  4. I know from first hand that organic cotton clothing is a great way to naturally alleviate some skin conditions.

    That is an easy call since conventional methods of cotton production use such harsh chemicals.

    I have heard some varying numbers on the amount, but everyone agrees the chemicals just are bad for the earth and us.

    “Traditional cotton production also attributes to 25% of worldwide insecticide use and 10% of worldwide pesticide use.”

    • pLopez
    • March 4th, 2009

    I don’t buy clothes as much but rather I use my sister’s clothes because she has all the fashion sense anyways. But I totally agree for the kid’s clothes; frequenting thrift stores will benefit you and the environment and they have decent clothes. In addition to children, there are some good bargains for teenage clothes, especially if you know how to sew and arrange other pieces together.

  5. Great post, thanks for the info

  6. Some people have this habit of hoarding a large number of clothes. Buy only what you need and you will be doing your bit for the environment.

  1. July 12th, 2008
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