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Does Buying Eco Friendly Clothing Really Help the Environment?

Choosing eco friendly clothes is a common piece of advice for families who are trying to go green. Clothing is something we all need, and with kids in the house, new clothes are needed pretty often. Wondering if your shopping habits are really making a difference isn’t a bad thing; it just shows that you’re really thinking about the impact you’re having/

What Is Eco Friendly Clothing?

The first thing you need to figure out is just what is meant by eco friendly when it comes to clothing. Clothes made from organic cotton come easily to mind for most of us. Bamboo is a popular material now. But to really get into eco friendly clothes, you need to go beyond the simple categories.

Handmedown clothes are eco friendly. You’re reusing clothes that someone else was done with.

Clothes bought at thrift stores are eco friendly. Same deal as with handmedowns.

The clothes you have in your closet aren’t going to get any more un-eco friendly, so long as you care for them in environmentally friendly ways.

That’s important to remember. Going green is not all about shopping.

Worrying about whether the materials used to make the clothes matters most when you’re buying new. That’s when you get into organic cotton and other such materials. They matter most when the materials used are new to your purchase.

Does Buying Organic Cotton Clothes Make a Difference?

You can feel as though the difference in how your clothes are produced is a small issue, environmentally speaking. We’re so far removed from where the cotton is grown and processed that it’s easy to miss the harms.

Tremendous amounts of fertilizers and pesticides are used on conventionally grown cotton. This is bad for the land it’s grown on and for the lakes, rivers and oceans the excess water may runoff to. There’s a good post over on The Good Human called What’s So Bad About Non-Organic Cotton? that explains the situation well.

Buying organic cotton also means you’re supporting farmers who aren’t using so many potentially dangerous chemicals.

Clothes made from bamboo, even organic bamboo, are a bit more complex. Most bamboo cloth is chemically processed. Some of these chemicals are hard on the environment and on the workers using them. This processing turns it into a viscose or rayon fiber. It’s not as natural as many want you to think.

Overall, if you want to help the environment through the clothes you wear, really think about where they’re coming from, and don’t go for the huge wardrobe. Reduce how much you buy new, buy used when you can, and pay attention to how the new clothes are made. That’s the best way to limit the impact your clothes shopping has on the environment.

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