What are your clothes made of?
As reported once in 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.
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 (a.k.a. “fast clothes”) are taking steps to be more eco-friendly. One way is by using alternative materials that reduce post-consumer waste and pollution.
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.
That is why the clothing line RevengeIs commits to producing Tees in the USA. As their owner states:
Everything on our website is conceived, born, and raised in the fine metropolitan city of Los Angeles. Our products are free-range, organic, vegetarian, and never given any antibiotics or hormones. Which is pretty easy to do… because they’re t-shirts.
Our Tees are made from Organic Cotton and Bionic Yarn.
Can any of your other clothes say that? Some super-smart folks convert plastic bottles into fibers that are woven into fabric. They use awesome technology or elf dust – either way it’s pretty amazing and we love them.
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.)
Wearing corn doesn’t have to mean being wrapped in popcorn garlands like a Christmas tree. Ingeo is a man-made fiber whose raw material is corn. Given that corn is easily and abundantly grown annually, Ingeo is highly renewable. And when you’re ready to get rid of your tired threads made of Ingeo, you’ll be comforted in knowing that they’ll be biodegradable, giving back to the Earth rather than burdening it.
NOT JUST FOR SUSHI
There’s no need to go to the spa for your seaweed-wrap treatment: Now you can wear seaweed all day. SeaCell is a fabric made from seaweed and cellulose. Like bamboo and corn, seaweed is highly renewable and, when made into fabric, releases minerals and vitamins such as calcium, magnesium and vitamin E that the skin absorbs. Literally, you can look good and feel good.
WHEN THE SODA GOES FLAT
A plastic dress? No, it’s not the mod sixties making a comeback. EcoSpun is a fabric made of 100 percent post-consumer plastic from soda bottles, water bottles and other beverage and household containers. Clothes made from EcoSpun — often used in fleece jackets — are soft and durable. The company says it’s able to keep almost 3 billion plastic soda bottles out of landfills each year, saving over half a million barrels of oil and eliminating 400,000 tons of harmful emissions. So recycle your soda bottle; you could be wearing it one day.
Sunday, May 27, 2007