It’s summer and that means it’s time to celebrate the beauty of the world outdoors and the warmth of the long bright days. Looking good is part of that, but if you’re committed to eco-friendly living, it might also be a good time to get wardrobe wise. Take a long hard look at your wardrobe and think twice before going shopping for new clothes if you really want to stick with your green principles.
How eco-friendly are the summer clothes you’ve already got? Check the labels to see just how many of them are partly or wholly made from man-made fibers like polyester and rayon. These synthetic fibers are produced with chemical processes that are energy intensive and their by-products polluting the environment. This is especially true of clothes and fabrics produced in countries that are lacking in the environmental legislation that exist in places like the US and Europe.
Synthetic fibers can be useful because they dry easily and wrinkle less. Most of us will have some clothes like this, and they have a place in the world of practical fashion. It’s still a good idea to keep them to a minimum, for other reasons too. The dyes used are also powerful chemicals, and the clothes themselves are not biodegradable. In fact, synthetic fabrics can take decades or more to decay, and millions of tons of them go into the landfill every year.
The ideal eco-friendly clothing is produced from sustainable, natural resources and uses natural or less toxic dyes. That means fabrics like cotton, wool and silk. There are also all sort of interesting alternatives, like hemp. Ideally the wool will be from flocks that are reared according to top welfare standards. A significant proportion of the world’s cotton crop is now genetically modified, so if that turns you off, go for organic cotton that isn’t GM.
Natural fabrics may not be wrinkle-free, and the color quality of natural dyes isn’t the same as their chemical cousins. But on the plus side, they are healthier for your body, they hang well, look good and are breathable, which is exactly what you want in a hot summer. If you want to go all the way with eco-friendly clothing, also consider designs that don’t feature plastic buttons, zips and similar trims.
Summer means swimming, sunbathing and water sports. Typical swimming costumes are made from stretchy, quick-dry synthetics, but there are great looking, well-styled cotton alternatives too. For kids and people with sensitive skin, swimming costumes that are UV resistant are available. Protecting kids’ skin from the sun is obviously vital, but it’s also smart for all of us to stay out of the most UV intensive sunlight, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Shoes complete an outfit and women especially are well known for finding them hard to resist. Even if you’re not a vegetarian, there are alternatives to leather shoes. These are eco-friendly because raising cattle, for meat production and the manufacturing of leather, is one of the top contributors to global warming. Also, leather shoes are cured and tanned using harsh chemical processes that are not eco-friendly.
Eco shoes, along with the eco-friendly summer fashion that is becoming more easily available, are the way to go to keep things sunny and green!