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March 24, 2014 | by  | in Arts Fashion |
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Sustainable Style

It is easy to choose clothes based on cut, colour, print, and what’s ‘on trend’. But how often do you consider where your clothing comes from and what impact it has on the environment? While clothing lines made from sustainable fabrics are also an excuse to slap huge price tags on new products, it could well be worth the extra $$$ in future decades.

The Good Stuff.

As you probably know, anything with the term ‘organic’ is usually a good thing. But how does this translate to fashion?

Cotton is one of the most popular fabrics used for clothing due to its versatility and the huge amounts which can be produced from one crop. But if you’ve ever read The Grapes of Wrath, you’ll know that this plant is easily damaged by rain and insects. Because of this, fertilisers and pesticides are used in staggering quantities to sustain a good yield, making it the most pesticide-reliant plant product in the world. An organic option will guarantee that your cotton products have not been treated with any chemical products, including bleach and non-plant-based dyes.

Alternatively, bamboo and hemp products are becoming increasingly popular among designers. These plants are durable against both weather and insects, and they grow quickly in warm climates. Because there is little need to use pesticide or fertiliser on these crops, you can feel reasonably confident that these fabrics have been produced in a sustainable manner, even if they aren’t stamped with the organic label.

The Bad Stuff.

As a basic guide, beware of fabrics with the letter Y in them: nylon, polyester, rayon. Nylon and polyester are made from petrochemicals, the use of which is a central cause of global environmental problems. The production process for these fabrics also uses large amounts of fresh water, and even if you were to purge your wardrobe of these fabrics, they are non-biodegradable!

Rayon is slightly more sustainable as it is manufactured from wood pulp, but until producers can find a way to prepare the fabric without the use of sulfuric acid and caustic soda, its cons far outweigh its pros.

The Best Stuff.

Do a little research into your favourite clothing brands. If you find out that their products are not made from sustainable fabrics, simply buy their clothes second-hand from somewhere like Recycle Boutique or Trade Me, meaning that your precious money is not going directly to the company. In general, though, second-hand shopping should be encouraged at all times.

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