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Green Your Wardrobe This Season and Save Some Green

December 8, 2010

Buying pre-worn clothing helps reduce textile waste.

The Black Friday bargains are over, but the season for shoppers is just getting started. I was sitting at the news desk at KOMU at about 6 a.m. on Black Friday morning watching people rush into Best Buy and Penney’s and I’m thinking I’m missing out! It made me think of why everyone goes bonkers every year around this time when most of us already have plenty of clothes and plenty of friends and family to keep our wardrobes fresh (Not to mention the plenty of people who can’t afford to bust through the doors of our favorite retail stores this morning.)

I started doing some research and found some ways to stay green this holiday season when it comes to your wardrobe. U.S. News has “5 Ways to Green Your Fall Clothes Shopping”. The suggestions seem like common sense, but when the “50% off” signs are basically slapping us in the face it can be hard to think green. At a surprise number 0 on the list, writer Maura Judkis suggests simply buying nothing at all. What a concept! Judkis recommends playing adult dress-up with your own clothing, mixing and matching articles of clothing you may not have considered wearing together in the past. Judkis also says fashion is cyclical – meaning those hand-me-downs that once made you cringe could be the hottest thing around in two months. A clothing swapping party could also be a way to see what friends of sick of that you may have always been dying to borrow.

An old sock can make a useful pet toy.

Another tip, find pre-worn clothing for major bargains. According to green blog, Eco Stiletto, the average American generates 11.8 million tons of textile waste—10 pounds for every person—every year. That’s four million tons of solid waste every year, or four percent of the content of our landfills, just from the clothes we throw out! You can also find new ways to wear old clothing without even picking up a needle and thread. One such idea from The Huffington Post that blew my mind: Using old socks on the outside of your shoes instead of the inside. Cover shoes when storing them or stuffing them into your suitcase. The sock covers will keep shoes from becoming dusty or your other packed items from becoming dirty.

Back to the original ideas, the third tip we have is an idea that scared me since I have a lot of trouble getting rid of clothes. I always think “this will come in handy some day,” as that old sweater from seventh grade sits in a dark corner of my closet year after year. The idea is to give away one item of clothing for every piece you purchase.

Another idea comes from a Carnegie Mellon University Study. It says online shoppers are greener than in-store shoppers. This is because shopping from the comforts  of home cuts out 35 percent of the CO2 produced by an average trip to the mall. Online shopping is also where anyone looking for specialty green clothing like all-organic lines, clothing made from recycled material will have a greater variety of choice than in your typical mall.

The last tip, resist the urge to buy every new and trendy item this season when it probably won’t be cool next season. It simply isn’t worth it when you consider the manufacturing and shipping effects of a shirt that will be worn just a few times before it’s no longer in style.

I’m far from accomplishing all these behaviors- believe me. But before we all follow out ears and eyes into the department store holiday tunes and big red discount signs, let’s take a minute to think and dress green this holiday season.

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