Going Zero Waste: Ethical & Sustainable Clothing Options

The choices of clothes we wear can greatly affect our environment. While it is not known to many, clothing can have a seriously damaging effect on our surroundings. Being responsible citizens of this earth, we must take the necessary actions to lessen our impact on the environment. Making the right choices when it comes to sustainable clothing options is one of the easiest and most impactful steps you can take to going zero waste.

We've listed here ways on how any person with an interest in fashion can still keep up with the latest trends without compromising the environment. There is always an option to make ethical clothing purchases.

1. Patronize Local Businesses

One of the best ways to practice ethical choices when buying clothes is to get them from your local clothing stores. This does not only support them but you are guaranteed to know in detail the quality of the clothes you buy.

If you still opt to buy brand new clothes, plan to take your items to some second-hand stores so your items can be reused.

Another well-thought plan is to donate your used clothes to people who need them, places like shelters, charities, or even your local church are great options.

2. Consider Buying Second-hand Clothes

The goal is to make wiser decisions in choosing the clothes we buy. Buying clothes that are used but still in good condition can have a great positive impact on the world we live in.

Purchasing second-hand clothing not only helps your local thrift shop stay in business, especially at this time. But, you are also helping to reduce the massive amounts of waste products that are being dumped into landfills every day. Buying and selling second-hand clothes always works for the benefit of the business owner and for the preservation of the environment we live in.

You will be stunned by how you can save for considering this option. You can still be in your most fashionable state while not spending too much and, most important of all, being an advocate for the protection of the environment.

3. Have Your Clothes Sewn by a Tailor

While some would say that this option is not necessary, having your clothes sewn by a tailor has its own benefits that cannot be disregarded. If you have a unique fashion style, getting your clothes done by a tailor the way you want will be truly worth it and you will be highly satisfied.

Also, you can never underestimate the quality and duration of the clothes done by a tailor. Most of them are very critical in choosing the type of materials for their customers. It has been known that clothes that are tailored-made can last up to another generation. What a way to save money and save the earth!

4. Swap or Trade the Clothes You've Only Worn for a Short Time

Maybe some of you have tried swapping your clothes with your friends or tried to borrow an outfit for social occasions.

If you have had female siblings with you growing up or best friends you can share almost everything with, then you probably have experience swapping or trading clothes with them during your teenage years.

This option can also be very convenient for mothers who have recently given birth and would no longer need their maternity clothes and dresses. This can help expecting mothers from any additional expenses and instead save their financial resources for their babies.

Imagine how our earth can have a chance to breathe for a span of almost a year if all pregnant mommies do the same.

You may also visit your shops within your villages or communities that accept clothe to be traded in exchange for a specific item you want for each of them.

5. Choose the Right Fabric

Try Linen

This type of fabric is likewise considered to be very sustainable and has the character of lasting longer than other types of fabrics, as moth and robust can't ruin it. One quality that makes it favored by many is that it is composed of the flax plant, which makes it breathable to wear and is not prone to bacteria. You can make it as compost to prevent it from being scattered in the landfill.

Go For Cottons

Clothes categorized as ethical clothing are composed of natural materials and are not harmful to the environment. For most consumers, they choose organic cotton when buying clothes.

Known for its sustainability and environment-friendly value, organic cotton is good for everyone's health as well as to the environment as it is not grown with any exposure to chemicals such as herbicides, insecticides, or pesticides. Because of that, organic cotton maybe a little more expensive compared to other types of fabrics for clothes.

If you're convinced to purchase organic cotton clothes, make sure that they are GOTS certified, so you are guaranteed of its authenticity.

A study by Hidden Water in Everyday Objects illustrates that it takes about 2,108 water gal to come up with a pair of cotton jeans while 659 gal to create a cotton t-shirt.

Fabrics made of recycled cotton are considered to be a very sustainable option as it possesses the character of reducing the consumption of energy and water resources. At the same time, it lessens the stock of fabrics being thrown into the landfills.

It may be a helpful tip to consider buying recycled denims from companies that patronize eco-friendly materials. 

In any chance that you have, it is recommended to recycle denim until such a time, the fit no longer suits you or it has already been too old. 

Consider Fabrics Made of Wool

What makes wool a better option for ethical clothing is that it is very environmental-friendly and water-resistant fabric. You can also wear these clothes without the trouble of having it wrinkled when seated in long hours of travel.

Take Advantage of the Benefits of Hemp Plant

Hemp is commonly known for the several benefits it brings to the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and most especially for our health and well-being. In fact, it is popularly called the most versatile kind of plant.

Specifically, hemp is considered to be very durable and increases its quality even more through time. After several washes, the fabric tends to feel more comfortable to wear as it becomes softer. Most significantly, since it is all-natural, it doesn't have any harmful effect on the environment since it's biodegradable once you need to dispose of it.

Fabrics You Need to Avoid

You need to be aware that microfiber type of fabrics can cause serious damage to our natural marine life. However, if you are really required to buy polyester fabric, you should select recycled ones. We refer to the ones that use PET made from plastic water bottles. In this way, the process of recycling can be an infinite cycle.

Thus, it is very clear that the best type of fabrics are those that are organic. It is understandable that it may cost a little bit more than the other types of clothing, but you need to look at its consequence in our environment. The earth is the only gift we can give to the next generation ahead of us. Choosing the ethical clothing to wear is definitely a step you can take in making a difference in our children's lives and our children's children.

6. Search for the Earth-friendly Brands

The Good On You app is highly recommended for consumers who are fond of writing reviews for the best type of clothing brands.

It is very easy to use. You can sign in your email and search for specific brands that you would want to compare. Type the name of the brand then the rating will show up.

On the other hand, when you enter the keywords, ”Nae,” you will be shown the results of ratings that is ”good.” Through this, you can gauge which company or which brand has exerted efforts to help our environment and make it a safe place to live in. This is how accurate the app works; it won't let you miss out on making the right ethical clothing options.

7. Be Careful of Certain Company Policies that are such a Waste

Be wary and be aware of what is happening in the stores where you shop for your clothes. Particular stores tend to take the issue in our environment very lightly and would rather make a profit in their businesses than find solutions to how can they not contribute to the already depressing state of our environment.

Not because a brand is popular, it is good to wear. It still comes down to the choices you make. Gone are the days that the only way to fit into the crowd or to be considered with a high taste in fashion is to buy the expensive clothing type without considering its effect on our surroundings.

There is so much to be admired among consumers who are wise, fashionable, and at the same time, compassionate to the needs of the next generation —- a better and restored environment.

If you agree with the article and find this helpful, please help us reach a larger audience by sharing this content with them. There is so much difference each of us can make.

To learn more about the topic of zero waste sewing, please check out these recent articles.

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14 Responses to Going Zero Waste: Ethical & Sustainable Clothing Options

  1. Kathlyn says:

    There are a lot of good ideas here! I often buy used things for my children and sell those that we don’t need. I try to choose natural fabrics, but this is not always possible. I want more people to think about the respect for nature and not litter it so much.

  2. Karen Boyd says:

    So many good points here. For example passing down cloths to others. So think it is bad but Prince Williams Children have worn clothes that he and Prince Harry wore as children. Kate is a frugal mother. I buy a lot of used clothing, but recently people are using so much scent in their laundry and sprays that it exacerbates by asthma. In some cases I have been able to get the scent out. In others I have not. When thinking about cotton and other natural fibers, I think of ironing and steam. I find it difficult to really know the environmental impact of many things we do. For example, I use warm water and at times detergent, to clean containers for recycling. Anyway, I think the take away is to be intentional about our choices.

  3. Amy says:

    I was hoping this article would talk about the impacts of water use from cotton. It mentions the amount, but doesn’t critique it and says cotton is an environmentally friendly choice, when its draining water sources in many places. I buy cotton fabrics to sew my clothes, because I honestly don’t know what other choices I have. I also live in a developing country with very limited fabric options for sale, so hemp and wool aren’t around. Perhaps I could ship in some other fabric, but that adds air-miles.

  4. Valerie says:

    TerraCycle also has textile/clothing ZeroWaste boxes. If you can’t donate your clothes, recycle them. It’s on the pricey side, but split the cost with friends/family and have a recycling party.

  5. Joanie says:

    all great if you live in a warm climate, but not practical if you live in cold climates and you need fleece, etc to keep warm and not freeze to death. No cottons or any such thing, is practical when you have -40 and lower in the winter…good guilt trip for those who need warm and I mean WARM clothes, not light, thin or cool clothes

  6. Pat G. says:

    I love cotton, but unfortunately, most natural fabrics take a long time to dry. I have tried for the best of each by lie drying my cottons whenever I can.

  7. okmisschi says:

    Plastics emit toxins when they are made, as you wear them (or leach into your food?) and for HUNDREDS of years in the landfill/oceans. Your great, great, great grandchildren will be lookin back at who did and didn’t address these depressing realities. I started sewing so I could make clothing without plastics and support organically grown cotton fabric, etc. Hopefully we can all start making choices and legislature that will help future generations.

  8. shopping thrift shops is a great idea, but many folks don’t want to do that.

  9. whit2432 says:

    I’d like to know how to alter my existing clothing to fit my >40 lb. weight loss body. That would be another way to avoid more buying and to sustain clothing options.

  10. Deb says:

    I can’t remember the site now but I recently read an article about a group that bought loads of wedding dresses and prom dresses and the like from thrift stores and took them apart to create new dresses and donated them to girls in need. Wonderful idea. Beautiful work. Sad to see all those gorgeous fabrics discarded. So glad someone can do this.

  11. Claudia says:

    Much food for thought here. However, I am not sure if you can call cotton good for the environment given the amount of water it needs. Regarding linen, the process extract the fibres from the plants is not without impact either, using water or in some processes sulphuric acid. I don’t know which process is normally used, but it is striking that linen became so cheap over the last years.
    Overall what is really really bad for our earth is the pace and quantity of consumption.
    As you write, a hand tailored garment may come expensive but will remain beautiful for a long time. I know a woman who went through some very hard times, she used to say that as a poor person she cannot afford cheap clothes, because they have to be renewed so frequently. Good quality is an investment.
    On the topic of avoiding waste, I fight a long and lonesome battle against the home sewers’ habit of making toiles. It is fabric that often goes to landfill afterwards – often for making only one model of the garment. And this shows too that the raw material is far too cheap. We need a new way of living.
    Thanks for all your work and sharing! Stay safe, stay sane

  12. Lenoa Sokal says:

    I think it’s a great idea.

  13. Margaret Kritzler says:

    These are some really good ideas about how to help our environment. Thanks so much for sharing. Happy to support the site with a coffee or is it supposed to be Kofi?

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