Calling all shopaholics! Scouring through clothing racks to find cute, trendy pieces is a fulfilling feeling, and I know I’m not alone in that. Too many times, retail therapy is often the best form of therapy. However, these shopping sprees are negatively impacting the environment, as textile waste is becoming an epidemic.
Most of the clothing in America is deemed as unwanted garments and abandoned by stores and owners, adding to the ongoing global trash crisis. Even the majority of donations to charities, such as Good Will or the Salvation Army, are discarded too. According to the Council for Textile Recycling, these charities typically sell only 20 percent of the clothes that are donated to them. With the enormous amount of donated clothing, it’s just impossible for everything to sell. When the leftover textiles are trashed, they are sent to landfills and incinerators, and as they degrade or burn, they produce the disastrous greenhouse gas methane. In addition, the fibers that comprise these garments consist of chemicals that release toxins into the air.
I am in no way suggesting that we cut back on shopping or designing new pieces. Rather, I urge Americans to begin recycling old clothing by selling them on resale sites, such as Poshmark or Mercari, as well as consider purchasing new clothing from those sites or brands with merch made from reused discarded materials. Below, I have listed some of the best clothing brands that aim to reduce the amount of textile waste in America.
Founded by actress Olivia Wilde and creative director Babs Burchfield, Conscious Commerce is a clothing brand designed to integrate sustainable methods into business models and fundraising efforts. The two partnered with online thrift store thredUP and actor/activist Sophia Bush to create the Choose Used Collection. The pieces consist of retro designs printed on used clothing. Some of the tank tops and tees feature promotional and informative phrases such as “I wear used clothes” and “It takes 700 gallons of water to make one new t-shirt.” To purchase one of these adorable and meaningful garments, head to threadup.com.
Looking for some cozy threads? LA Relaxed produces clothing perfect for lounging around or walking from class to class. They create their products using materials that are nutrient-rich, soft to the touch and require far less water during production. These eco-friendly materials include modal, hemp, lyocell and organic cotton. With the mission statement “we believe in soft fabrics against our skin, breeze in our hair, feet in the sand, smile on our faces, and making clothing that’s a little kinder to our planet,” this brand exemplifies how great it feels to shop with the Earth in mind.
Whether you plan on chilling poolside or hitting the gym, Rubymoon produces swimwear and activewear perfect for your summer break. With the help of Healthy Seas, this brand uses tons of waste collected from our oceans, such as fishing nets and plastic, to create their designs. After removing these objects that are harmful to sea animals, the company combines them with other chlorine resistant materials to develop their trendy suits and activewear. When you purchase from Rubymoon, you can relax with your feet in the sand, knowing that you helped make the sparkling water in front of you a little bit cleaner.
These are just a few of the many environmentally aware clothing brands to choose from. Through just a quick Google search, you can find tons of companies that recycle materials and cater to your own personal style. By purchasing used garments, you can reduce the amount of textile waste produced in America. A lot of little efforts can go a long way!