How to Green Your Wardrobe

Wearing vintage clothing is one of the best ways to reduce the environmental impact of your fashion choices—short of walking around naked.

You will need

  • A vintage store
  • A sewing kit
  • A resale shop
  • Eco-safe laundry detergent
  • A clothesline
  • And an environmentally conscious dry cleaner

Step 1 Read labels Check labels when you shop. Look for natural fabrics such as wool, cotton, cashmere, bamboo, hemp, and linen.

Step 2 Avoid synthetics Avoid new synthetic fabrics made with petrochemicals, such as acrylic, polyester, rayon, nylon, or anything labeled stain-proof or wrinkle resistant. Many such fabrics are treated with chemicals that not only impact the environment, but also may be absorbed or inhaled directly.

Step 3 Look for natural dyes Look for white or naturally colored fabrics made with no chemical dyes. Botanically dyed or color-grown cotton provides natural variety.

Step 4 Think classic not trendy Try not to load up on trendy items that you will throw away after one season. Be willing to pay a bit more for a high-quality classic that will last for years.

Step 5 Buy vintage When shopping for clothes, accessories, and jewelry, check your local consignment or thrift store for vintage items.

Step 6 Make over old clothes Don’t but new clothes unless you have to. Extend the life of what you already own with a stylish makeover—such as new buttons or trim.

Step 7 Donate used items When finished with an item of clothing, instead of discarding it, hand it down to a friend or charity, or donate it to a resale shop.

Step 8 Use a green dry cleaner Many natural fabrics wash beautifully in cold water by hand, but if you must dry-clean something, look for an environmentally conscious dry cleaner.

Step 9 Use nontoxic detergent Launder your clothes with a nontoxic detergent that is free of dyes and artificial fragrances. Powdered detergent is easiest on the environment.

Step 10 Use a clothesline Consider air-drying at least some of your clothes on a clothesline, to save on electricity and the carbon emissions that go with it.