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  • Writer's pictureWet Dirt-Alex

3 Simple Ways to Shop Sustainably: Clothes Edition

Did you know clothing and other textiles are the easiest change you can make toward a more sustainable future?

The global fashion market accounts for more than 10% of the carbon dioxide output and 1/5th of the world's plastic consumption, sadly unraveling in each wash to pollute our waterways and homes/bodies (ahem lint). The dying, pre-shrinking, and texturizing processes alone make up 20% of the wastewater produced each year! We must consider also the humans on the other end of the loom, sewing machine, and dye vat. Despite incredible prices on various "luxury" brands, 85% of garment workers make less than a living wage in their country. Many scraping by on 2-6 cents per finished piece that these brands sell for big $$$. Not to mention these influential brands' detrimental addiction to trends and novelty. It's a vicious cycle but you don't have to participate. Here are a few ways you can tell one of the world's biggest litterbugs and threats to human welfare to get lost.

  1. Most influentially, repair/upcycle what you already have.

This is obviously a no-brainer. Wear what you have! Make it unique, styled to your personality with handmade embellishments like broaches, embroidery, or modifications. Not only will you keep your precious money out of the fashion industry's grubby little hands you'll gain a new useful skill. Stains aren't impossible, tears aren't a death sentence, and even outdated styles can be brought back with a few new stitches. Sometimes things are beyond your skill/resources and must be replaced which brings us to our next two suggestions...

2. Buy second-hand!

It's NOT gross, the items can be washed, steamed, and sterilized. Getting good at shopping secondhand does require some skill. That's why sites like Mercari, Thred-up, and Poshmark are so cool. Find exactly what you need, saved from the landfill by someone who knows what to look for. We also reserve a small section of our store for unique seasonal items we come across. Secondhand is the easiest baby step toward a more sustainable outlook on clothing and we always suggest starting there. The other steps follow naturally as you start to notice patterns in quality, materials, sizing, etc... from big-name brands.

3. Buy from small-scale producers that care.

This is usually the last step for most people as quality garments that are made to last, produced by people making a living wage, and using techniques that impact the environment less, are an investment. They cost more because the methods are slow and intentional. Made with love for real things, rather than a love of money. We do the work of vetting out brands. Asking the hard questions, comparing the pros and cons, trying to find you the most influential place to spend your dollar. So you can have confidence that the clothes you buy from us are attempting to change the industry for the better, to impact the world in a positive way for more than just the shareholders. Grassroots change is the best way to win this troubled industry.

What are your favorite ways to disrupt the status quo and live more sustainably? Share it in the comments.

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