Even though our capsule wardrobe experiment wasn’t as successful as we would have liked, we’re still on a quest for tinier, happier closets. As minimalists, fewer clothes we really love is the goal. And included in that goal, is going green.
We want to shop consciously.
A while ago, I watched a documentary I think every woman in our generation should watch: True Cost. It exposes the ugly truth behind our compulsive consumption of clothing and how our insatiable appetite for it over the past couple decades has been devastating to the planet and to the lives of other women around the world.
The movie really upset me. I emailed Bridget crying. I’d been shopping at Forever 21 and Target and though I always knew that there was something inherently off about a $29 cocktail dress, I ignored that instinct in favor of great deals because I was on a budget. After seeing the moving though, I was disgusted with myself for being so callous.
And I wanted to do something about it.
I was already a minimalist, so I didn’t have or even want nearly as many clothes as the average American woman, but outside of buying less in general, I still wanted to buy butter. When I did consume, I wanted to do it in a way that didn’t compromise my values or the dignity of other women and the environment.
But how? How do we know if what we’re buying is green or not? What does that even mean? Just as in buying food, (Is it better to buy organic or local? Pasture-raised or grass-fed? Vegan? Cruelty-free? Antibiotic-free?) how do we know what the better choices are?
Enter Wear No Evil by Greta Eagan.
I did some research and found this awesome, little book that lays out all the factors we could consider when buying clothing and how to decide what’s best for you. Because with so many factors to consider in this global economy, it can be tricky when we’re actually out there shopping.
Eagan proposes what she calls the ‘Integrity Index’ as an answer. It’s a simple guide for making better, more informed, environmentally and ethically-friendly choices.
The index includes 16 different factors to consider when buying clothing. You decide what is most important to you out of those 16 and then when shopping, make sure that each piece you buy checks off at least a couple of those boxes. You’ll never be able to choose perfectly, she argues, but you can definitely choose better.
Today, I’ll introduce you to just one of those 16 factors. It was the easiest one for me to implement because regardless of anything else, this one piece of information is always on the tag: the fiber.
Choosing natural fibers over synthetic ones is the first greener choice we can make, here’s why:
[From Eagan’s website: Fashion Me Green]
Natural fibers include naturally occurring plant and animals fibers, like cotton, silk, or wool. It also includes bioengineered fibers like corn and milk protein fibers. Natural fibers are biodegradable and are often recyclable.
Why You Should Care
Synthetic fibers take anywhere from two hundred to four hundred years to biodegrade, off-gassing along the way, and this contributes to major shifts in our atmospheric balance.
With millions of pounds of clothing winding up in landfills each year, it’s easy to see why choosing natural fibers really matters. Not only are they naturally occurring to begin with but, they biodegrade faster as well.
An added bonus to choosing them, is that they also just feel better against your skin. It’s an easy choice, really. It’s relatively easy to find clothing made of natural fibers and with companies like Grana innovating the industry, it’s also easier to find them at a reasonable cost.
What do you think? Do you have any tips for making greener fashion choices? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
And if you’re been interested in simplifying and going green, check out this one simple sentence that will help you lose weight, be happy and figure out your life. Enter your name and email below and we’ll send it over now.
Also published on Medium.