Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Environmentally Friendly?

When purchasing the latest trends how often do consumers consider the environment? Lately the trend of going-green is almost as hot as the color red found everywhere from the runways to cosmetics, to evening wear.
First, let’s decide how fashion is becoming environmental and some issues that have many people concerned that the products they are purchasing are in fact not eco.
Many companies and manufacturers are switching to organically grown cotton for their products. This is cotton that is grown using no pesticides and is not genetically modified. This is extremely excellent for the environment because it reduces the amount of pollution and carcinogens which conventionally grown cotton produces and it is less harmful to the farmers. This method of producing cotton is creating a giant hype about the product produced, and has a very large number of supporters that continues to grow.
Unfortunately the amount of organic cotton being grown as compared to conventionally grown cotton is very small, as it takes much longer to grow, and requires completely cleaned out crops for the products to actually be considered organic.
Don’t be fooled; when purchasing organic products it is important to become educated. Any company can label their clothes as being organic or eco-friendly because the plants are grown naturally, however the cultivation process of manufacturing the plant into fibers and eventually into clothing or merchandise can be the part of the process that is most harmful to the environment. It is important to support companies that take the environment into complete consideration and do everything they can to protect it. It is also important to consider where these products are coming from. The more locally made the product is, the less it had to travel to get to you. In other words how large of a carbon footprint has the product created in the world? This is often something people don’t consider when buying eco products, and this is one of the largest concerns and problems, with prices of oil continuously rising and the pollution it creates it is becoming more and more important to support companies that are local.
Another fiber that is becoming extremely popular in fashion is bamboo. Why is the fashion industry using bamboo? It is an extremely easily renewable resource that grows independently without the use of pesticides and fertilizers, it is part of the grass family and renews it self much faster than any other natural plant usable for fiber production. Also the admirable qualities are endless when bamboo is used in clothing, it has great wicking capabilities, meaning it absorbs moisture from the skin keeping you cooler, it’s wrinkle resistant, it’s soft and very comfortable, it’s breathable, it’s comparable to silk but available at much lower prices and it’s machine washable and dryable which makes it a much more desirable purchase. Bamboo also has natural anti-bacterial characteristics and is actually bio-degradable. Are we right to consider bamboo an environmentally friendly material? Most people will say yes because of the renewability and bio-degradability but actually there’s another side to the story.
Since bamboo is becoming so popular companies in different countries have been clearing out areas to grow more of the grassy plant, this in itself is not environmentally friendly. When natural habitats are destroyed for the benefit of large companies we may want to think twice about our purchases. Not only are areas being taken over for production of bamboo but the cultivation process is very detrimental to the environment. Bamboo pulp is typically very tough and to make the process of breaking this down to extract the fibers for yarn and fabric production requires very heavily toxic chemicals, which are extremely harmful to workers and the environment. There is a natural way of breaking down bamboo pulp but it is very labor-intensive and costly, and many companies are not using this method.
It is very important to educate yourself before making purchasing decisions; many companies are claiming to be eco but in fact are not entirely.
Some alternatives to buying organic products and still remaining environmentally friendly include;
Thrift Shopping: Recycling past trends and items is excellent for the environment, it not only keeps these items out of landfills but it allows for shopping adventures that allow you to find one of a kind items that you won’t see anywhere else. Some may find thrift shopping difficult and uninteresting, but with the proper research on what is current in fashion, a vintage piece could make a huge statement. Most of the time all these dated items need is some creativity, and accessorizing. Not to mention the prices are amazing!
Clothing Swaps: Clothing swaps are another way of keeping clothing out of the landfills and being environmental. Invite over all your fashionable friends and have them bring along a bunch of their unwanted clothing, accessories and handbags, swap some unwanted pieces with a friend and watch your wardrobe change and grow for free! What about the clothing that isn’t wanted by any of your friends? Donate them to a chosen charity or used clothing store.
Donate to Local Shelters: There are always people who are in need of something. Never throw out an old t-shirt or pair of jeans. There are too many people in our community who are in need of clothing to keep them warm and clothed. Regardless of whether an item is out of fashion or no longer a current trend, there are people out there who are more concerned with having these possessions for warmth and the ability to change their clothes everyday. This is a good deed socially and also environmentally.

There are many ways in which fashion is changing for the better; its just knowing what companies are making the best effort and which companies are only making half the effort. If you are putting in the effort to become more eco when it comes to fashion, make sure the entire process of the merchandise is considering the environment.

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