We wrote recently about some of the best clothing companies for consumers who are trying to maintain green living standards. But some readers may have wondered what, exactly, it means to purchase "eco-friendly clothing." What makes one shirt environmentally responsible while another is not? We've assembled a quick list of some of the things to look for when you're trying to expand your wardrobe without increasing your impact on the planet:
- Natural dyes: These are made from natural products such as fruits, vegetables, coffee and other renewable products rather than chemicals that are toxic or put a strain on the environment.
- Organic and sustainable fabrics: Just like with food, some fabrics are made from plants or synthetic materials that were raised responsibly while others were produced using pesticides, petroleum or other toxic chemicals that are bad for ecosystems or create climate changing gases. It's best to go with the former, which are available from many companies and are now sold in many of the biggest department stores, including Barney's and Wal-Mart.
- Recyclable: Many labels specialize or at least make an effort to produce clothing that is recyclable. For example, Boston Magazine reports that Patagonia has a program called Common Threads in which they take back old clothes you no longer want and repair them for resale.
Lastly, one of the best ways to dress green is to buy secondhand clothing from thrift and vintage stores. These garments would otherwise end up in a landfill where they will decompose and produce greenhouse gases. Buying them used ensures that you'll look good while helping the environment.