- This article, contributed by Riley Rooney, intern for Kane County’s Division of Environmental and Water Resources, is Part 3 of a three-part series on Environmentally Conscious Shopping: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
Similar to some of the ideas from my previous article on the reducing and reusing clothing, recycling items from your closet can be an easy way to alleviate some of the common environmental consequences of the shopping industry.
Environmental concerns resulting from the fashion industry include: exploitation of natural resources, the amount of water, chemicals and energy required for clothing production, the transportation of products from manufacturing to its final destination, and the problem that I have tried to bring create awareness of through my last two articles: waste.
What we can do to reduce our waste and what we should do with our clothing once we are done with it has been the focus of my articles, and as I finish up my last article on sustainable shopping, I would like to add a few more tips for people to incorporate into their daily lives.
Tip 1: Use parking lot drop boxes.
Drop boxes provided by companies like USAgain will take reusable clothes or even those that are worn or torn.
Once you deposit your textiles into the drop box: reusable clothes and shoes are sorted for reuse; damaged or worn textiles are turned into wiping rags or insulation blankets; and beyond that the remains are sorted for use in fiber products.
Tip 2: Host a garage sale.
Selling your used clothing is not only a good way to clean out your closet, but can be a great way to recycle your clothing to someone else’s closet.
Tip 3: Go to the thrift store.
Donate your clothes to thrift stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army. Thrift stores are a great way to recycle clothing. Whether you are just dropping off your old clothes or you are shopping for new-to-you products, thrift stores provide the ultimate way for you to reduce your impact on the environment and your wallet.
The products you buy at thrift stores are usually inexpensive and reduce new waste and pollution from entering the environment.
To explain further. many products that you buy from department stores were produced using synthetic fibers, crude oil, and byproducts which include toxic gasses and chemicals according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Another tidbit of information to put this issue into perspective, it takes 2,700 liters of water to produce one, just one cotton T-shirt.
By purchasing clothing from thrift stores we can cut back on the use of pollutant synthetics, oils, and toxins from being used in the production process as well as reduce our water consumption.
Tip 4: Return your used clothes to retailers who will repurpose your clothing for you.
For example, Madewell turns old jeans into insulation for homes. H&M also offers a recycling program in partner with I:CO (sort for I Collect) in which you can return a bag of used clothing in return for a 15% discount on your next purchase.
Tip 5: Consign and resell.
As an addition to some of the thrift stores that I have included in this article (Goodwill and Salvation Army), Plato’s Closet, PoshMark, Style Encore, Crossroads, Thred Up, and Tradesy provide great solutions for those who want to get rid of their old clothing and shop for gently used name brand products at a reduced price.
Style Encore specifically emphasizes a sustainability-conscious lifestyle for those looking to buy from an eco-focused consignment store.
While these may all be small tips to include in your lifestyle, by following a few of the things that I have suggested over the last couple of articles you can make a really large impact on how you choose to shop and your impacts on the environment over a long period of time.
And while it is impossible to think that everyone would be willing to make large changes to how they spend, your eco-minded shopping habits can have an impact on others — creating a ripple effect of change.
Not one person can change the environment. We all have a part to play, and if these tips can slowly help change habits, then that is a small step towards success.
Read The Sustainable Shopping Series!
- Sustainable Shopping! Start By Thinking About What Clothes You Buy
- 3 Tips For The Environmentally Conscious Shopper