For many people of faith, taking care of the earth is important. Whether your motivation for doing so is respect for God's creation or the health and well-being of humanity, one tangible way you can minimize your own carbon footprint is to build a sustainable wardrobe.
Most textiles end up in landfills, which release toxins into the environment. Overconsumption of goods also puts a strain on the natural resources used to create them. By making better choices when it comes to your wardrobe and inspiring other people to do the same, you can be a part of the solution to these problems.
Shop for Longevity
When buying new clothes, a lot of people shop for quantity rather than quality. They assume that having a variety of choices will help their clothes last longer by eliminating overuse. It doesn't often work out that way, though. Instead, adopt a simple rule to help you decide whether to make new purchases. If you don't see yourself wearing it at least 30 times (or a little over twice a month for two years), it probably doesn't need to be in your closet.
If you are looking for an outfit for a special occasion, it's still useful to think about how many times you can reasonably expect to wear it. Try to find items that are versatile enough to work for multiple events. Alternatively, consider renting if you need a very specific type of ensemble for the occasion. The fewer rarely used pieces you have in your closet, the less likely they are to end up in the landfill the next time you organize and get rid of items that are just taking up space.
Donate to Trusted Organizations
Most people don't intend for their discarded clothes to end up in trash heaps. They faithfully bag them up and haul them to a donation center. That doesn't automatically mean that they get redistributed to a good home, though.
Most thrift shops will throw out clothing that they can't use, and even some donation centers that have the reduce/reuse/recycle symbol on their marketing materials will do the same. The majority of the places that may come to mind when you think of donating clothing, shoes and other textiles simply don't have the resources to properly recycle the volume they receive. Before you donate your unwanted items, look for a company that has a clear commitment to and process for reusing or recycling as many items as possible posted on its website.
Buy from Sustainable Companies
You are likely bombarded by advertisements all the time. The latest fashion trends often mask their dark side. Sweatshop labor is still a common practice in many countries, and many of the most popular brands of clothing benefit from the toil of underpaid workers.
The good news is that there are a lot of companies that are taking a stand against abuses in fashion manufacturing by fundamentally changing the way they do business. No matter what your personal style entails, there is probably a company that produces sustainable options that fit your preferences and your budget. Look for organizations that model transparency and accountability when it comes to their textile resources and garment production practices. It takes a little extra effort than just going to the mall to pick up your next pair of jeans, but don't underestimate the impact of voting with your dollar. If enough people demand more sustainable options, it can turn the tide of the way the industry works.
Learning new spending habits can be a challenge. In the end, though, the payoff for the planet and everyone living on it is worth it.