Do your part

Increase the life span of your garment and decrease your environmental impact.

How often do you think about the kind of world you're voting for?

Whether you're aware of it or not, every purchase that you make sends a message out into the world. It says 'I support how this was made and I want more things like it.' It's a vote for a way of doing things.

We can't tell you what to vote for, but we can tell you this: if you're not thinking at all about your decisions as a consumer, you might be voting for a system that would make you uncomfortable. Some guy in a corporate office some place thanks you for your generous contribution to his campaign.

We don't often put as much thought into what goes into our closet as what goes into our fridge. Organic or conventional? Local or imported? Responsible or most affordable?

When it comes to buying clothes there are a few simple questions that you can ask yourself:

  • Do I really need it?
  • Am I buying it because it's cheap or on sale?
  • Will I really want to wear it 6 months or a year from now?
  • Is it built to last?
  • What's it made out of?
  • Can I trust the brand? Do they have an ethical manufacturing policy?

If you want to be part of the solution in the apparel industry, your first goal ought to be this: buy less of what you don't need and make an investment in the things you do.

Fancy yourself a conscious consumer already?
Great, onto Part B.

Once you've bought a piece of clothing, there's more that you can do to reduce your impact. Here are a few rules of thumb:

  1. Wear it a ton. The most sustainable garment is the one you wear the most.
  2. Think before you wash. Forget what your mom told you... if it passes the smell test you're good to go.
  3. Wash smart. If it really needs it, choose a lower-impact laundry detergent and hand wash, or fill your washer and run it on a cold cycle (yes, for whites too).
  4. Skip the dryer. Let mother nature or a jerry rigged clothes rack dry your clothes for you.
  5. Keep it out of the landfill. If you're done with it, get creative and hand it down, swap with friends, upcycle, resell on consignment or donate it.

Now we're making some progress, but there's plenty more to the story. If you want to wise up and vote with confidence the next time you pull out your wallet, keep exploring...