Since we were kids, we’ve been made to fantasize about clothes, shopping, and having a beautiful walk-in closet of our own. We see this in Carly from iCarly’s revolving closet, Mia Theropolis’ makeover with her princess wardrobe, Miley from Hannah Montana’s spiral clothing racks, and Carrie from Sex and the City’s never ending outfits. These influences have encouraged us to always stay on top of the hottest trends and constantly add to our closets. But this lifestyle isn’t as glamorous as it seems. The fashion industry is not just hurting our wallets, but also our planet.
While the clothes you’re buying might be inexpensive and do no harm to your wallets, the real cost of these clothes fall on our planet. In summer of 2022, The BBC found that almost 10% of global carbon emissions come from just the fashion industry itself. This is because producing clothes requires a great deal of farmland, oil, and chemicals. For example, many clothing items are made of cotton – which takes up about 2.5% of the world’s total farmland. You might think that we can solve this by moving away from cotton and using other man made materials like polyester. However, even these synthetic fabrics have their consequences – almost 3.5 million barrels of oil are used to make these materials. Adding to this carbon footprint, dying clothes requires over 40 million tons of chemicals every year, hurting our environment and ecosystems. And let’s not even talk about the amount of water that goes into our clothes (not literally). A typical t-shirt requires 2,700 liters of water during the production process – that’s over 700 gallons of water. And it gets worse – a typical pair of jeans uses over 2,500 gallons of water. Your outfit doesn’t feel that great anymore, does it?
But this doesn’t mean we have to just accept the consequences of our spending habits. If we change our shopping and spending habits, we can reduce our carbon footprint and wear clothes we feel good in and feel good about.
- Buy only the things you need. A lot of the time we just buy to buy – we’re spending money just for the excitement of shopping. I definitely fall victim to this when I see a great sale going on. Sure, that top might be 50% off, but will you actually wear it? Or will you wear it once before it gets lost in the back of your dresser?
- Try to buy only the basics. Some pieces are timeless and will never go out of style, like denim jackets, blazers, and fitted tees. Buying items that go with everything means you can get so much more wear out of them. Those pink leggings might be perfect for that one 80s-themed yoga session you have on Sunday, but will you ever wear them again? Instead opt for some black leggings or yoga pants that will fit for every yoga class.
- Shop secondhand. You can find the best hidden gems in the racks of thrift stores, and you can easily donate any items that you don’t get any wear out of anymore or don’t fit the same. Something that you don’t wear anymore might become someone else’s perfect outfit!
So the next time you go to the mall with some friends, remember these sustainable shopping tips to save your wallet some bucks and help the planet at the same time.