How to Shop for Clothes Sustainably

This may be surprising to you, but the manufacturing and disposal of clothing has a huge environmental impact. Each year, we produce 80 billion pieces of new clothing. To do this, around 93 billion cubic meters of water are used annually by the garment industry (that is enough to meet the water needs for 5 million people!), and 20% of the world’s wastewater is produced from fabric dying and treatment. Around 80% of clothing ends up in landfills or incinerators, adding over 17 million tons waste to landfills every year. Clothing production also contributes to around 10% of global carbon emissions.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways for us to become more sustainable in our clothing purchasing and disposal habits! Here are a few ideas:

• Buy fewer clothes, and try to buy better quality clothes that won’t wear out too quickly
• Repair, donate, or sell old or unwanted garments instead of throwing them away
• Buy second hand clothing. You can buy from garage sales, brick and mortar thrift stores, or online thrift stores such as thredUP, Poshmark, or even eBay.
• Do clothing swaps with your friends as a way to refill your wardrobe and get rid of clothes you no longer want.
• Rent clothes, especially clothes that you need for just one occasion like a wedding
• When buying new, look for sustainable and ethical clothing brands, especially small-scale, local, and “slow fashion” options.

- By Cooper Farr