Five Steps to a Kinder Closet
by Sica Schmitz | Posted on October 21 2016
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” ~ Aesop
While fashion might not be the first place you look to express daily kindness, as something you participate in each morning (or perhaps even several time a day), the clothing you wear is actually an ideal place to start bringing more thoughtfulness into your life.
The truth about fashion can seem daunting. The exploitation of workers both domestically and abroad, the use of child labor, the mistreatment of animals, the excessive chemical use and waste, unsustainable shipping practices, and an overinflated focus on profit has turned the beauty of clothing into an ugly reality that negatively affects people, animals, and the planet.
But fret not! While these are absolutely big issues, small choices can help make a huge difference, causing ripples of change that benefit both yourself and others. Here are 5 simple solution you can choose for shopping and caring for your clothing, and world.
1. Go Green
It’s easy to get lost in words like “eco-friendly” or “sustainable” without having any idea what impact they are actually having. What you can look for are styles that use clear labeling like recycled materials, up-cycled textiles, organic fibers, or companies that measure water waste or energy consumption. When you support companies making these kinds of conscious choices you’re not only expressing your values, but also influencing the market as a whole, creating more demand, and therefore, more incentive to create sustainable options.
2. The Golden Rule
In fashion, living wages and safe working conditions are often the exception, not the rule. Choose to shop local designers and makers who are part of the manufacturing process, look for styles that are Made in USA, and support Fair Trade brands that are creating opportunities in marginalized regions. Ethical companies will gladly tell you where and how they manufacture, and if information seems vague, unclear, or hidden, those are usually signs that the brand is not proud of how they are contributing to fashion.
3. Buy Less, Choose Well
Each year in America, 10.5 million tons of textiles are thrown away. By buying less and therefore wasting less, this number can be significantly reduced. Instead of shopping for lots of cheap, fast pieces, invest in quality styles that are timeless and trend-less so you can plan to keep them longterm. And instead of buying something new, shop second hand to help keep already existing fashion out of landfills.
4. Shop Vegan
You don’t have to be vegan yourself to support vegan fashion. Vegan alternatives like cork, faux leather, and synthetic down can be more renewable and recyclable, along with being gentler on the lives they touch. Leather tanning is toxic to the people and places involved, and all animal products including wool, fur, and down are taken without consent, so skip the bad vibes and instead choose from the huge range of animal-free options available these days.
5. Recycle & Repair
Loving what you already own is a great place to start with your ethical fashion shift. Treating the things you own gently, using natural soaps to wash them, and getting them repaired and renewed by professionals as needed is one of the best ways to not only cut down on waste, but to keep all of your favorite things in like-new condition so you can continue building long term, loving relationships with your favorite pieces.
What are your favorite steps into ethical fashion?