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Clean Closet - Craft an Environmentally Friendly Sustainable Wardrobe

Did you know that one of the most wasteful and unsustainable industries is fashion? I certainly wasn't saavy to the extent of the problem until recently.

Sustainable fashion refers to a clothing supply chain that is ecologically and socially responsible. It aims to reorient the industry and consumers toward sustainable practices in sourcing, production, distribution, marketing, and consumption while minimizing the environmental impact. Economic, social, and environmental factors are all considered important. Fast fashion has completely revolutionized the apparel industry. Fast fashion is a business model that involves replicating catwalk trends cheaply. The goal is to get the clothing on to shelves (physical and online) quickly while demand is high and encouraging consumers to discard the garment upon release of the newest fashion trend. Quality is not the objective. Quantity, aesthetics, and cost are the important components. Fast fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world, after energy. Sustainable fashion is characterized by:

  • Having an eco-centric business model.

  • Using less water in the manufacture and production of goods from raw materials to a finished product.

  • Paying fair wages to workers.

  • Disposing of waste in ethical and proper ways.

  • Using Renewable energy to run their operation.

  • Producing goods locally.

  • Using sustainable new and recycled materials such as cotton, hemp, bamboo.

Fast fashion is characterized by:

  • Replicating recent trends and high-fashion designs.

  • Mass-producing clothing at a low cost.

  • Using low-quality materials, such as synthetic fabrics.

  • Quickly rotating trends and seasons.

  • Offering thousands of styles.

  • Encouraging shoppers to discard and replace apparel frequently.

Ponder these facts (see references).

1. The result of every piece of clothing in a store is the Earth being stripped of limited resources. Waste from this industry depletes healthy soil, contaminates fresh and ocean water sources, pollutes the air, destroys forests, and damages eco-systems and the health of their biodiversity. Clothing is manufactured with highly toxic dyes and heavy metals. The industry razes 150 million trees for cellulosic fabrics.

2. Synthetic fabrics used in the fast fashion industry contribute to 35% of the plastic and microplastic waste found in our water, including oceans.

3. 100 billion fast fashion garments are made each year, of which 87% end up in a landfill. They don’t last nearly as long as sustainable apparel so are discarded quickly, contributing more to the pollution of our water, air, and land faster than sustainable apparel.

4. Manufacturing facilities around the world employ child labor and high pressure, unsafe conditions for workers. They are paid unfair wages.

5. The industry is in its infancy when it comes to recycling fabric and reusing recycled fabrics. The industry is also unregulated.

Want to help?

  • Buy used clothing. This is an “in thing” right now. There are so many excellent second- hand clothing and accessories shops.

  • Buy less and shop for quality over quantity.

  • Choose natural materials – organic cotton, linen, or hemp.

  • Buy garments made of 100% recycled fabrics – 100% recycled polyester, viscose (rayon), etc.

  • Research brands to identify those that are ethical and practice transparency and sustainability. Buy from vendors who expressly care about the environment and those that give back to their communities.

  • Employ the capsule closet concept. This requires fewer pieces of clothing but buying those that can be mixed and matched to form multiple looks.

  • Swap clothes with a clothes swap group or start a swap yourself.

  • Donate all clothing that you no longer need or want.

  • Embellish your existing wardrobe with new designs or e.g., by changing long sleeves and long pants into short sleeves and shorts. There are lots of easy ideas on social media.

  • Help your clothes last longer by laundering properly with mild soaps and cold or warm (rather than hot) water. Dry your clothing in the air rather than in the dryer.

  • Buy vegan leather products rather than animal leather items.

  • Support the proposed Fashion Act, NY State 8352 which is a piece legislation to amend the general business law, in relation to requiring fashion retail sellers and manufacturers to disclose environmental and social due diligence policies; and to amend the state finance law, in relation to establishing a community benefit fund.

  • Practice minimalism in your life including your wardrobe. Don’t you find you return over and over to your favorite articles of clothing anyway? Weigh your choices between pieces you love and quantity, 1/2 of which you don't wear.

*Note* Keep in mind that every time you do a load of laundry containing clothing with synthetic materials, the lint you collect in the dryer and toss in the trash contains microplastics. In addition we all have microplastics in our bodies. We don't get rid of it - it builds over time.

· Review your wardrobe

Help the globe


Review your choices

Raise your voices

· Change your buying

Don't give up, keep trying


· Fast fashion is unsustainable

· A sustainable wardrobe is attainable



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