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Tips for More Eco-Friendly Clothing

If I had to pick a favorite in terms of overall production impact I’d probably go with hemp, but the truth is that for each fabric type there’s enough of a range of impact that it’s tough to truly rank them in their overall ecological footprint. I recommend getting in touch with your favorite clothing companies and asking them some tough questions; while I didn’t find any fabrics I’d universally recommend, some individual companies (e.g. Gaiam) do a fantastic job of minimizing the ecological footprint of their clothes. If you do want to buy organic, look for the GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) logo, and if you want to read more about the various textile options I recommend this article.

I’d always prided myself on buying what I thought were “green choices” like organic cotton and bamboo. But now I plan to take more trips to my local thrift shops first, focus on buying from companies who have detailed information on their green practices for items I can’t find used, and whip out my needle and thread the next time I tear my pant leg on my bike chain!

And if the thought of sorting through all the greenwashing on labels makes your head hurt, just focus on improving your laundry practices and wearing your clothes a bit longer.

Got any tips for creating a “green” wardrobe? Share them with us!

Jon Fisher is a data management specialist for The Nature Conservancy, the world’s leading conservation organization. He has studied forestry, environmental biology, stream ecology, environmental engineering and how technology and spatial analysis can improve wildlife management at airports. He also loves to cook delicious vegan food. Opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Nature Conservancy.

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52 comments

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12:20AM PDT on Jul 15, 2014

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9:44PM PST on Dec 18, 2013

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4:18AM PDT on May 30, 2013

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8:26AM PDT on Jul 27, 2012

Thanks.

3:08PM PDT on Jul 26, 2012

Those interested in this topic might want to read about a new labeling scheme that measures how green various clothing options are: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443570904577547610634945308.html

3:55PM PDT on May 16, 2012

The washing machine doesn't have to be a front-loader these days, but it should be energy star complaint. Buying an energy efficient washer does help. Drying racks also are more gentle on clothes than dryers are, so you get two energy savings with them - you don't use a dryer and your clothes need replacing less often.

2:00AM PDT on May 16, 2012

Thank you what a great article. I will use your tips wisely :)

4:32PM PDT on May 15, 2012

Side loaders aren't that great and can cost you more money to repair in the long run, side loaders are known to break down, and a rotten fungus grows inside the machine making your clothes stink.. the other tips are good :)

3:07PM PDT on May 10, 2012

Thanks for this article. Seems like it's a no win situation when it comes to clothing. Fashion dictates how we should dress, which is the trend etc. Again, it points to excessive consumerism. It is possible to do without a clothes dryer- I've done it for decades ,so do some friends who have limited space. The younger generation are growing up with a pile of clothes, a lot more than they really need.what message do they get from this custom?

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