Photo via staralee @ flickr
The fashion industry loves to tell you what you absolutely have to do: wear this top, buy those pants, pair that dress with those boots, carry that bag. But when it comes to talking about sustainable fashion, they are, for the most part, pretty tight-lipped--and sure, you know a green wardrobe has benefits that one made up of traditional fabrics doesn't, but what exactly are those benefits? We've broken it down into seven simple reasons why stocking your closet with eco-friendly clothing choices--from organic cotton to your grandmother's 1950's Chanel--makes a difference. And here's one more: Every time you spend money on fashion, you're telling the industry what they should do. Now don't you want to use that power wisely?
1. It's Better for the Earth
The fashion industry leaves behind a huge environmental footprint, from the pesticides used in growing cotton and the leached chemicals from the toxic dyes that went into that perfect shade of teal, to the landfill impact of clothes that wear out and the energy required to produce each piece. Conventional cotton alone requires a third of a pound of chemicals to make just one t-shirt--and how many t-shirts do you have sitting in your drawers right now? Choosing organic fibers or sustainable fabrics--like those made from bamboo or hemp--can also trim the amount of carbon you give off and chemicals you bring into your life, and there's no doubt that's a good thing.
2. It's Better for People
Buying clothes labeled under the Fair Trade Act is sustainable on several levels: You can be sure it was produced under safe working conditions, it's sweatshop free, and the person who made it earned a fair wage. That's saying a lot when you look at an industry known for its harsh labor practices and unhealthy cost-cutting; purchasing pieces that are considered Fair Trade proves that people and places mean as much as (or more than) the company's bottom line.
3. It's Better for Animals
You may love the look of those leather boots you saw on the runway, but the life of the animal that gave up its skin should have you thinking twice about buying them. The same goes for fur and leather anything, and, for vegans, that refusal to take advantage of animals extends as far as not wearing wool or silk. Making sure your closet is stocked with cruelty-free clothes means you can get dressed without worrying about what went into what you're wearing.
4. It Lasts Longer
While buying organic, renewable fibers is often the least toxic way to go, finding timeless, durable pieces can be just as green: Instead of wearing those trendy organic leggings for just one season, invest in classic shapes, chic silhouettes, and foolproof colors that you can flaunt for years to come. Reducing waste and cutting back on your consumerism will do more for the earth--in terms of saving energy and resources--than stocking up on unnecessary fashions (even if they were made without pesticides).