3 Things to Look for When Choosing Sustainable Apparel

Social Enterprise Alliance
toasting good
Published in
3 min readJan 14, 2021


Written in collaboration with BeadtheChange

Adopting an eco-friendly lifestyle includes recycling waste, choosing responsibly manufactured products and supporting companies committed to lowering their impact on the planet. While you probably follow principles such as recycling your cardboard and disposing of plastics and electronics safely, it’s time to step it up by learning how to identify sustainable apparel.

The Cost of Conventional Fashion

Dressing up and expressing yourself through fashion is an integral part of self-identity. But, before you snag those cool shoes, take a closer look at the brands you buy. You’ll also need to consider what happens to the clothing once you’re done with it. For one, it will interest you to know that nearly 132 metric tons of coal are used each year to manufacture, dye and bleach new fibers, not to mention staggering amounts of water and chemicals. The carbon emissions that factories release into the atmosphere contribute to global warming.

Another unfortunate statistic is that 17 million tons of textile waste end up in U.S. landfills every year. That’s equivalent to 29 billion pairs of jeans. Reduce this scandalous amount of waste by keeping an eye out for sustainable apparel the next time you go shopping. Here are some things to look for:

1. Clothing Made with Natural Fibers

Polyester and other synthetic fabrics are popular because they are made out of petroleum products and are thus cheaper and more affordable than natural fibers. However, these garments contribute to plastic pollution and take anywhere from 20 to 200 years to decompose. An eco-friendly alternative is clothing made from cotton, hemp, bamboo, linen, flax, bagasse, reed, or sisal. Cotton is also eco-friendly if it comes from organic farms and is grown without harsh chemicals. Otherwise, its cultivation can be ecologically damaging. As for winter wear, you can choose from green alpaca and sheep wool or silk from caterpillars.

Photo by Marianne Krohn on Unsplash

2. Clothing Made With Recycled Polyester

Interestingly, plastic is a far greener resource than it might appear. Not new plastic, but plastic apparel that reuses the products already in existence. Companies sell clothing like custom eco-friendly t-shirts made out of old plastic bottles. This type of clothing item uses up to 75% less energy, 95% fewer chemicals, and up to 90% less water for dyeing. When purchasing or placing orders online, check the fabrics’ composition for a blend of cotton and recycled polyester.

3. Clothing Made Out of Vintage Fabrics

Several top fashion houses now carry vintage clothing and accessories that look elegant and have a story behind them. Check out their collections when shopping. You can also look for exciting designs and fashion crafted from vintage fabrics to give it a modernistic look and fit. Also, see if you can repurpose fabrics and old clothes from uncles, aunts, and grandparents to make beautiful new clothes. Create a community with friends and family and swap clothes you no longer want to wear.

Accessorize with a climate change bracelet to express your commitment to the planet.

Eco-friendly living is about making the right choices in every aspect of your life. Since clothing is a big part of who you are, look for the right options that minimize your carbon footprint and have the least impact on the earth and the communities around you.

toasting good is a conscious lifestyle platform powered by Social Enterprise Alliance. Our mission is to inspire a movement of people passionate about social impact and eager to create change with their daily actions.

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Social Enterprise Alliance
toasting good

Social Enterprise Alliance is the champion and key catalyst for the development of the social enterprise sector in the United States. http://socialenterprise.us