Living for the Long Haul: You can buy clothes that positively impact sustainability – Pine and Lakes Echo Journal

Living for the Long Haul: You can buy clothes that positively impact sustainability – Pine and Lakes Echo Journal

They do this by producing these clothes in garment factories that pay poverty wages, endanger worker health and safety, consume excessive amounts of natural resources and pollute the environment.

In this column, we will consider alternatives to continuing to support this fashion industry that emphasizes profit over social and environmental responsibility.

First of all, we all can reduce the number of garments we buy. However, that is easier said than done. All want to look our best and feel comfortable in our clothes.

To reduce the urge to constantly buy clothes, we need to distance ourselves from the commercial messages from the fashion industry that are crafted to make us feel miserable about ourselves and to buy what they are selling, which, they say, will make us happier/prettier/better.

The reality is that, no matter how many clothes we buy, we will never look like the models on TV or in the catalogs. So, discontinue receiving clothing catalogs, cancel email notices and watch less TV.

Alternatively, we can’t swear off buying clothes for the rest of our lives. Fortunately, there are alternatives to continuing to support this unethical fashion industry. A great alternative is shopping at second-hand stores/thrift stores/charity stores. These shops are frequently deluged with clothes that have typically been worn only a few times and the cost is a fraction of new.

This is a way to recycle clothing that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

Other ways to recycle clothes is through garage sales, clothing swaps and renting clothing items rather than buying them, especially for special occasions. All of these approaches have the added advantage of supporting local community businesses and causes, as opposed to national chain stores.

If you do choose to purchase new clothing, there are ethical options as well. One can choose to shop at stores that have high social and environmental standards. One way to quickly evaluate major U.S. clothing companies is to look up “Green America’s Score Card” online.

The International Labor Rights Forum also publishes a Sweat-Free Shopping Guide. When we purchase clothes, we can look for a variety of certifications on the label that assures the production of the raw materials and/or clothing meet social and environmental standards.

If one wants to find fabrics that are gentler on the environment, look for Certified Organic, Ecofriendly Fabric, or GOTS & GOTS Organic labels. Specific fabrics that are frequently termed ecofriendly include organic cotton, organic soy, organic linen, hemp, wool, bamboo, silk and Lyocell (made from wood).

If one wants to assure that workers who produce the raw materials or make the clothing are treated fairly and receive a living wage, one should look for certifications including Fair Trade, Union Made, Green Business Network Member, GOTS & GOTS Organic or Bluesign.

Each of these standards vary somewhat in how they evaluate and certify clothing companies, but all have high environmental and social standards.

The final classification we should consider is “Made in the USA.” Unfortunately, this does not mean the clothing is made responsibly. Many garment factories in the United States are classified as sweatshops by …….


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