(Picture courtesy of Skeeda.com)
Happy Earth Day to all! We here at Corner Office Chic are hoping to dramatically reduce our carbon footprint by next year this time (particularly after using this carbon footprint calculator and discovering the number of tons of carbon dioxide we contribute to greenhouse gas emissions). We might start by picking up some chic reusable bags like the one above from Skeeda, priced at $15 each or $40 for a 3-pack. Check out the variety of hip prints (frost, pictured above, olive and tangerine are our faves)!
We were brainstorming about other steps we could take to live cleaner, greener lives when we came across a study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That study estimates that Americans throw away more than 68 pounds of clothing and textiles per person per year! 68 pounds of clothing sounds like a huge amount! Based on this study, clothing and textiles represent about 4% of municipal landfills.
As huge consumers in the fashion industry, we also may not think about the tremendous amount of energy and natural resources consumed and pollution generated during the clothing production process. In other words, when you wear something new, you may not consider the highly involved processes used to generate that darling new piece. Large amounts of water and oil are used to produce the fiber, fabric, threads, and needles. Chemical residue often pollutes our air and water. After production, the clothing must then be transported to retail stores – here, fossil fuels are used, resulting in what may be excess greenhouse gas emissions.
OK, now that we’ve given you a dose of Clothing/Textiles and Energy 101 and sounded a little preachy (and, believe us, we don’t mean to be preachy because we’ve got lots of work to do in this category)…what little things can we fashionistas do to improve the Earth and reduce our carbon footprint?
1. Donate to charity. When you donate clothes to a charitable organization like the Salvation Army, Goodwill, Dress for Success, Lupus Foundation, or Vietnam Veterans of America, you’re not just helping someone in need, you’re helping yourself de-clutter (and perhaps get a tax deduction) and you’re helping Mother Earth! Also, check out homeless and domestic violence shelters for their needs. Clothing/shoe swap parties can also be fun and helpful.
2. Hand them down or host a swap party. Consider handing your clothes down to a relative or close friend. Or host a swap party where you too can benefit! Invite a group of girlfriends to get together and “shop” from each other’s gently used or even new but unwanted items. You all can then donate things left over to a charity.
3. Sell your used clothing. Make a little cash and help the planet too. We have sold a few items on Ebay and at yard sales (in our view, the yard sales were way too much work given the return). You may want to check out local consignment shops that cater to the woman who loves designer clothing; that way, you can get a good resale value for your nicer career wardrobe pieces. If you’re in the DC area, check out Secondi. We’ve heard good things about it.
4. Buy recycled or eco-friendly clothing. There are various brands available. For instance, Urban Outfitters has an Urban Renewal collection that reuses gently worn goods to make trendy pieces. While many of the Urban Renewal pieces won’t work in our career wardrobe, we like these Urban Renewal skinny belts. We think it’s kind of cool that no two of these belts are the same. Too, a number of retailers like Banana Republic offer organic clothing which is also eco-friendly.
5. Find creative new ways to use old clothes. If you’re creative, good with your hands and have some time (the time factor is usually rare among many professionals, we know), you might consider making something from your old clothes. For example, you might gather those precious baby clothes that are collecting dust and make a sentimental quilt or beautiful scrapbook collage. Or you might transform an adult piece into something a child can wear. Or use a gorgeous silk blouse or dress that you’ve outgrown to make a small throw pillow for your bedroom.
Whatever you decide to do to reduce your carbon footprint, know that your contribution is much appreciated by many who share the planet with you! Happy recycling!