Bleep Cheap: Quality Clothes are Planet-Friendly
The temptation to buy inexpensive clothes whispers, “It’s smart to trend with the latest fad,” or “Disposable wear can be tossed if it gets stained,” or “I can wear this outfit only once for a special event.” The lure to buy future throwaways seems especially prevalent during the holiday season of gifting and gatherings.
Consumers can fall into the cycle of buying from inexpensive chain stores, wearing items a few times and then discarding them during spring cleaning purges. According to The Atlantic magazine, Americans now buy five times as much clothing annually as they did in 1980, yet recycle or donate only 15 percent of it. They simply discard 10 million tons as waste, reports the Huffington Post.
Conscious consumers consider the extended consequences of their purchases. The production and transporting of an average shirt, for example, can deliver about nine pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, reports Eve Andrews, culture editor for Grist.org.
She offers five tips: buy less; shop smarter and only for what’s truly needed; look for durability and design that won’t fall apart or look dated in a few months; decrease frequency of laundering to increase the life of the garment; and donate what no longer works.
Buying items that are durable, timeless and made under fair labor conditions from selected organic, resale and outlet stores that sell high-end clothing that lasts at reduced prices will save money over time and reduce resource abuse and waste. Five top outlet chains for superior and lasting value per a 2016 Consumer Reports readers survey are Bon Worth, L.L. Bean, Haggar, OshKosh B’gosh and Izod.
Quality labels are welcomed by consignment stores, so the wearer can even retrieve some of the purchase price for gently-used classics. Giving used threads to thrift shops, churches, The Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries is another way to extend the life of items, help others and save landfill space. Another option is to cut up portions of clothing earmarked for disposal so they can live on as cleaning rags for home and vehicles.
This article appears in the November 2016 issue of Natural Awakenings.