10:11 AM PDT on Monday, March 12, 2007
By JACKY MYINT
Source: The Associated Press
Styles in fashion are ephemeral and fickle. Those acid-wash jeans, M.C. Hammer pants and DayGlo T-shirts you loved in middle school have long since reached “out” status (though the harem pants we saw on the Spring 2007 runways look a bit Hammer Time to us). The skinny jeans you love right now will one day follow their fate.
Though trends come and go, the clothes themselves stick around. To make room for new fashions, the average American throws away about 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per year. Mother Earth isn’t that fond of polyester, and is quite warm enough already, thank you very much.On top of that, producing new clothes out of traditionally grown cotton taxes the environment with chemical fertilizers and pesticides; energy and chemicals are required to manufacture synthetic materials. The all-American combo of a cotton T-shirt and a pair of denim jeans, for instance, requires 1 pound of fertilizers and pesticides.
AP photo =Elements of style: alternative materials to make your wardrobe fashionably green
But the fashion industry is beginning to recognize its impact, as well as consumers’ desire for more eco-friendly fashion. An increasing number of independent designers and boutiques specialize in eco-conscious fashion that is more hip than hippy.
Even big companies like H&M, Urban Outfitters and Uniqlo, which sell really cheap, trendy and easily disposable clothing (aka “fast clothes”), are taking steps to be more eco-friendly. One way is by using alternative materials that reduce post-consumer waste and pollution.
Take an interactive look at how these materials can help you be fashionably green.
Reuse, Recycle and Work It!
The most ecological materials are the ones already lying around. But don’t worry — this isn’t like getting your sister’s tattered hand-me-downs or playing dress-up with leftover wrapping paper.
Designers are creatively repurposing existing materials, making purses out of candy wrappers or totally new clothes out of discarded fabric and garments. According to the Council for Textile Recycling, the industry keeps 2.5 billion pounds of post-consumer textile product waste from entering landfills every year.
Going organic doesn’t just apply to what you eat. Now you can buy clothes made out of organic cotton, grown without fertilizers and pesticides. Less than 1 percent of the world’s annual cotton production is organic, but that’s certain to increase as more mainstream stores carry organic clothing and customers demand it. H&M is already producing an organic cotton line.
Previously known as panda food, bamboo is also an all-purpose material used to make flooring, furniture, housewares — and clothes. For good reason: It grows as many as 12 inches a day, making it a highly sustainable and renewable resource that doesn’t require pesticides. Clothes made out of bamboo are incredibly durable, soft, biodegradable and antibacterial. (And pandas will highly approve.)