If you're reading this blog post, I'm pretty sure you love clothes as much as I do! Sometimes picking out my outfit is the best part of my day, but a few years ago I decided to become a more concious consumer. It's the one New Year's resolution I was determined to keep because lets face it, most of my resolutions only last until February. But, I had just learned how fashion is arguably the second most polluting industry in the world and I didn't want my consumption habits to contribute to this alarming trend. Luckily, there are easy adjustments each of us can make in our shopping habits that are good for our closets, the planet and communities along the fashion supply chain. Here are five tips that will ensure your sustainable shopping New Year's resolution sticks in 2020°
- Hold on to oldies, but goodies: In recent years, we've bought into - literally and figuratively - the idea of needing that new, trendy item. Clothing consumption rates have increased exponentially incentivizing overproduction on the part of fast fashion brands and creating a tremendous amount of textile waste. Recent statistics show the average American throws away 80 pounds of clothing/textiles every year. TIP: Next time you're looking to spice up your closet, take a garment you haven't worn for a while to a local designer, seamstress or tailor to see how they can redesign it into a one of a kind item made just for you.
- Know your materials: Knowing what your clothes are made of is just as important as the ingredients in your favorite meal. After all, your pores are tiny little mouths that absorb everything you put against your skin. TIP: Some great go-to fabrics are tencel, organic cotton and if you need an item with polyester, make sure it's recycled polyester. Every piece of clothing you purchase should list the materials somewhere on the garment, so start checking those tags! For more details on fabrics check out the book, "How to Shop for Shi(f)t".
- Do less laundry: Yep, you heard it here first! One easy way to live a more sustainable lifestyle is to do less laundry. Everytime we wash our garments the fibers breakdown resulting in our favorite items not lasting nearly as long as they could if we wore them a few times before dropping them in the washing machine. Also, synthetic materials (hello° polyester!) shed microplastics when washed that find their way into our oceans. TIP: To prevent microplastic pollution, consider buying a GuppyFriend washing bag (https://guppyfriend.com/en/) that will catch the microfibers for you. Other easy adjustments to garment care that make a difference: wash your items in cold water and try to use the dryer as little as possible.
- Sustainable brand finder: The majority of brands are behind the curve when it comes to transparency around their supply chain making it difficult for us, as consumers, to feel confident that we're buying from ethical and sustainable companies. A few innovative folks saw this gap in information and started developing tools to keep us in the know! TIP: Download the 'Good on You' app (https://goodonyou.eco). You type in a brand and it provides a sustainability rating based on a number of criteria. It's easy and awesome! Also, check out 'Done Good' (https://donegood.co), a website founded by two guys who want to create an Amazon equivalent that only carries sustainable brands!
- Tell a friend: Help keep this conversation going by telling a friend about some of the changes you're adopting. Each one of us making small adjustments in our shopping habits can add up to tremendous shifts in the industry we love! TIP: Follow 'Fashion Revolution' on Facebook and Instagram, watch two films about the fashion industry: 'The True Cost' (available on Netflix) and 'River Blue' and/or check out the book "How to Shop for Shi(f)t" by Taryn Hipwell and "Fashionopolis" by Dana Thomas.
Rachel Karioki founded Court Bottoms (www.courtbottoms.com), an environmentally conscious athletic wear line based in Tampa, Florida, after she learned about the fashion industry's negative impacts on the environment while studying at Parsons School of Design. Passionate about providing woman with sustainably sourced and ethically made clothing, Court Bottoms aims to create a community of #AthletesGoingGreen. Prior to her work in sustainable fashion, Rachel worked on foreign policy and international development in Africa, Asia and South America for more than a decade during which she focused on the intersection of poverty, governance and cyclical conflict.