We’ve never liked drycleaning our own clothes, getting them together, dropping them off, picking up, etc., but now we have a better reason than laziness to avoid it: Many drycleaners use harsh chemicals. One of them, tetrachloroethene, is considered by the EPA to be both lousy for the environment and for health. To lessen your impact, avoid buying dryclean-only clothing. Or, if you must, try to opt for a business that uses green, silicone-based cleaners.
Make sure to check the labels on the clothing you’re buying to see where it’s made, and what it’s made of. The closer to home an item is manufactured, the less the carbon footprint of its transportation. Keep an eye out for items made from sustainable fabrics such as bamboo, linen, organic cotton, soy or wool. It’s also a big plus if something is made using natural dyes. The synthetic dying process uses a great deal of water — one of our most precious resources.
Do you use shopping as a pastime, and end up with racks of clothes lingering unworn in your closet? Buying more than you’ll actually use doesn’t just waste your money, it puts an undue impact on the planet. Make a set of classic, well-made pieces the basis for your wardrobe, using trendier looks as accents or complements. And when you do get tired of an item, don’t just discard it…donate it to a charity or bring it to a consignment shop to give it a new lease on life.
Creating your look eco-friendly doesn’t just start and end with your clothing — it should be part of how you care for your closet as well. Purchase sustainably-made hangers, such as those made with bamboo, and make sure to wash your clothes with Earth-friendly detergents. Avoid bleach and other harsh stain-removing chemicals…you’ll be amazed at how effective homemade recipes, such as bleach and dish soap, can be at giving new life to damaged clothing in your closet.