Why You Should Be Picky When You Pick Your Clothes
Evidence supports that the clothes you throw away may hang around longer than you think. According to a study by UC Davis, roughly a quarter of the fish being sold in Northern California have some sort of plastic in their bodies, often in the form of synthetic fibers that make up our clothing. While these fibers don't directly end up in our bellies, it is still a matter of concern for two big reasons:
- It is unhealthy for the fish, which upsets the entire marine eco-system. I.E. If you like seafood, it's a problem. Also, if you like breathing oxygen (70% of which is produced by phytoplankton) it's a problem.
- These plastic pieces and clothing fibers absorb a lot of the toxins and pollutants already contaminating the ocean. The pollutants get absorbed into the fish's flesh from the plastic and therefore into our own bodies when we eat the fish.
In today's Eco-conscious, wealthy, well educated, and often crunchy communities, more and more people have been converting over to higher quality foods—organic produce, eggs from responsibly raised chickens that are free range and not injected with hormones, pasture raised, grass fed beef, pork, and chicken, and non GMO “cash” crops. Why? Evidence shows it is better for our bodies, our planet, and our peace of mind (yea, it costs a lot, but it's the right thing to do). My father always said “you can't put a price on your peace of mind”. Most experts agree that the healthiest and most sustainable way to get food is local, small businesses or farms with ethical practices. As a general rule, the larger a company and the more industrialized the poorer the quality and the more consequences of production. The rewards fore eating healthy and sustainably? You look better, you feel better, you live longer, And can have the satisfaction of knowing your weren't an asshole to Mother Nature.
So, what's keeping us from tracking the same route with our clothing purchases? Clothing has been industrialized to the same degree as food production and is nearly as taxing on our planet. We go to great lengths to treat our bodies well and support ethical food practices. Sustainable textile production doesn't affect our individual bodies, so it is harder to warrant its Importance when staring at the price tags on sustainable clothing lines--. Except when you realize that the earth is a much larger and much more important body (yes, more important than any of us) which ought to have the capacity to support millenia of our children and children’s children. Think about it in these terms. Every ounce on new synthetic fabric you purchase is a cancer to our planets body. You are filling it with something it cannot eliminate which poorly affects it's healthy bodies. These fibers often make their way into the ocean where they affect the delicate marine life forms living there.
- Cotton requires extremely high water energy demands for very little fibrous yield
- Synthetic chemicals used to grow cotton are dangers to the water, air, and soil
- Synthetic fabrics are NOT BIODEGRADABLE . They stay around much longer than they are ultimately worth
- Synthetic clothing fibers can be found in a large percentage of the fish being sold in markets on the west coast
- There are a plethora of other clothing options to choose from which are higher quality and do not pollute the earth and oceans
Okay so synthetic = bad for the environment, any idiot can guess at that. Something that does not biodegrade and sticks around to congest our planet FOREVER (OK, 500-1,000 years, to be less dramatic) is always something we should stray away from. So what's so bad about 100% cotton? What about organic cotton? It takes about 1500 gallons of water to grow a cotton t-shirt. Good lord we could have a water park for every little league sports team.
According to Gail Baugh, San Francisco State University, recycled polyester fibers may be less environmentally draining than cotton fibers. The amount of energy it costs to produce a pound of cotton fiber is about the same as the amount used to produce a pound of "virgin" polyester. The energy used to produce recycled polyester is about 1/3rd lower than what is used to produce regular polyester. In addition, the amount of water used to produce recycled polyester is essentially nothing. A huge contrast to the production of cotton. Cotton production also requires the use of colossal amounts of pesticides and other chemicals. This run off heads into local bodies of water-- lakes, rivers, streams-- and often ends up, you guessed it, in the ocean.
In conclusion, when regarding responsible clothing choices, stick to recycled synthetics and sustainably grown cotton, organic wool, hemp, and bamboo.
For the record: it is possible to dress responsibly in sustainable clothes without looking like a grubby hippie.
The cheapest and, in my opinion, best option is to go thrift shopping. The clothes there are already around. There's no de-constructing them. If you give them a good home and then eventually donate them to be recycled into new fabric it is better than someone else buying them, wearing them twice, and throwing them in the trash. For real though, you can score gold spending less moolah, without adding any environmental waste, and without appearing like you think you are a superior crunchy being. Thrift shopping is the unassuming, relaxed way to go that gives you a big thumbs up from Mother Nature. Why waste the stuff that's already out there and encourage more production (sustainable or not)?
Waste Not. After you've worn out your thifts, put them in a recycled clothing bin. Google it, crunchy chica.
If you're all about the new, that's cool too. Here are a handful of INCREDIBLE brands that use sustainable sourcing for their threads.