8 Ways to Green Your Wardrobe
Usually when we think of mind/body and soul, clothing isn’t the first thing that springs to mind. And yet, how we dress that body of ours matters. A lot. Not only because it reflects our personal style. But more importantly, what we can’t see might harm us… For instance, even though formaldehyde is a possible carcinogen, it’s regularly used to prevent fabric from wrinkling.
A science study in Stockholm found not hundreds but thousands of chemicals remaining in clothes! In addition to how clothing is produced, researchers believed that many of these toxic substances (residues and chemicals) were added while fabrics were being transported. In children’s pajamas alone, a slew of chemicals are routinely added as fire retardants.
Mindful living and balance go hand in hand. Along with eating healthy, exercising and mind/body practices, we can reduce toxins in our environment by making choices in favor of the greater good. Present moment awareness applies to all aspects of life. Much the way we opt for glass over plastic and avoid the dirty dozen foods when deciding which produce to buy organic, we can also adjust our wardrobe choices to align with our core values.
1 - Wash Before You Wear
New clothing can have a lot more attached to it than price tags. A thorough hot wash followed by a vinegar rinse will help remove harmful residues from manufacturing and transport. In addition to chemicals, clothing may’ve been tried on by others in the shop and still contain microscopic skin fragments. So it’s always a good idea to clean anything before slipping it next to our skin.
2 - Embrace Classics
The majority of clothing made today isn’t recyclable. And the average American throws out a shocking 80 pounds of clothing per year. Waste happens when we view clothing as disposable. Mountains of textiles pile up in landfills, crowding our planet. Instead of tossing away clothes each season in favor of the latest trend, choose timeless well-made staples that won’t go out of style and maintain them with care. Select colors that work well together and unique accessories to increase versatility.
3 - Keep Pests Away
Keeping moths out of wool sweaters can be tricky. Instead of sealing clothing in plastic tubs that off-gas toxic fumes, or using moth balls (that can be health hazards), deter the little critters naturally. Use cedar blocks and change them frequently. Or create DIY sachets from essential oils and old cotton pillowcases. Lavender, peppermint and eucalyptus are known to deter the winged creatures.
4 - Don’t Dirty Wash
We wouldn’t knowingly sprinkle chemicals on a kale salad. Why pour them on clean clothes? The goal of laundry detergent is to clean, right? So… don’t use toxic cleaners. Opt for green ones or try natural alternatives like baking soda and white vinegar. For an aromatic touch add lemon, tangerine or lavender essential oil to the final rinse. Also, avoid buying clothing that require dry cleaning. And if you must dry clean, find a green cleaner.
5 - Natural Fibers Don’t Mean Clean
Synthetic fabrics are known to contain chemicals that can leach into the skin. In comparison, it might seem logical to opt for natural fibers. Well, it’s not so simple. If fibers are not organic, these natural fabrics may be grown and manufactured with an array of pesticides and additives. For instance, approximately 90% of cotton produced is genetically modified. In reality, that cozy white cotton Yoga top, may not be as clean as it looks. So seek out organic and fair trade brands you can feel good about.
6 - Go Vintage
There are a potpourri of reasons to hunt in a local thrift shop, flea market or join a clothing swap. Digging for hidden gems is quirky, fun and involves mindfulness. Some of the most unusual pieces are just waiting to be unearthed. Instead of sporting the same colors and fabrics as everyone else, this clothing has the potential to span eras… As an added bonus, used clothing has already been washed and chemical residues will be removed. So aside from looking stylish, it’s cleaner too. And if that’s not enough, buying used saves the production of new materials and recycles by breathing new life into the past.
7 - Choose Quality Over Quantity
Reduce your carbon footprint by taking care of your possessions. In bygone eras people would darn socks, sew sweaters and resole their beloved boots. Your belongings have served you well, treat them with the love and care they deserve.
8 - Donate, Don’t Dump
What goes around definitely comes around when it comes to clothing… When it’s finally time to dispose of old wears, don’t create more trash. Instead, be mindful and compassionate. Cut down on new production, practice kindness and do your part to spare the planet. Give items to friends or bring them to a second hand shop. Just because something no longer suits you doesn’t mean it won’t bring another person joy.