In a world where people are rapidly being engulfed by consumerist ideals, the need for a socially conscious and sustainable lifestyle is increasing, if only to keep the human race from obliterating the entire planet.
Pollution and wastage exacerbate the degradation of the environment. Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART) says that, in the United States, a person discards eighty-one pounds of clothing on the average every year. That’s about twenty-six billion pounds of waste in landfills.
What Can You Do?
You can sell your old clothes online or in secondhand stores so another person can wear them, thereby lessening the need to produce new clothes. You can also donate your clothes to upcycling facilities, where fabrics can be sorted according to how they can be repurposed. They can be used as rags or as fiber for “new” clothes.
Most importantly, you can buy clothes that are made from eco-friendly materials and have been assessed and certified to be organic. Check the list below.
Linen is a natural fiber derived from the flax plant. It is sustainable in the sense that it does not need chemical fertilizers for growing. All the parts of the flax plant can be used, so there is no wastage of resources. Among all the natural fibers, linen is the strongest and most durable. It is cool, light, and absorbent, suitable for warm weather.
Cotton takes the lion’s share in textile production, accounting for up to 40 percent of textiles manufactured in the United States. However, it also accounts for 25 percent of the world’s pesticide use. Regular cotton needs to be treated with pesticides in order to be fit for material use.
A safe option is organic cotton, whose production does not need toxic chemicals as soil treatment. Natural fertilizers, made from manure or derived from crop rotation, make the plant healthy. Organic cotton tends to be softer than ordinary cotton and is more likely to be hypoallergenic.
Bamboo is completely biodegradable and grows as fast as one foot a day. It regenerates naturally and is porous, making it less susceptible to catch mold and mildew. It is has antimicrobial and thermal-regulation properties. As a fiber, it is soft like cashmere and is hypoallergenic. Responsibly sourced bamboo fiber uses natural enzymes to pulpify the material that will be spun into yarns and threads.
Jute is the fiber produced from a vegetable in the Sparrmanniaceae family. It is soft, long, and shiny. It is durable enough to be spun into threads or yarns that are commonly used for gunnysacks.
Aside from being biodegradable, jute does not need pesticides or fertilizers. It absorbs a lot of carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas, and releases oxygen. It enhances soil fertility and matures in as soon as four to six months.
Made from the wool of the alpaca, a softer, smaller Andean cousin of the camel, this material is lighter and warmer than sheep wool.
The alpaca biology is actually amazing, as if inherently designed for sustainable living. An alpaca has two small front teeth, which will not pull grass up to the roots, not upsetting the root system. This camelid animal will stop eating when it is full, unlike cows, which will tend to overeat when there is an abundance of food.
Clothes are pretty, colorful things to look at and even better to wear. They are a means of self-expression and creativity. But not everyone looks beyond the price tag and the style.
Educate yourself on the basics of a green lifestyle. It is not an easy commitment to make, and it will require you to be conscientious in your every choice. While that may be the case, you have to think about what positive impact you can make in this world. Sustainable living is an effort that everyone has to make in order to ensure the survival of this dying planet.