Eco-Friendly Clothing Options Are Available

Eco-Friendly Clothing Options Are Available

Look down at what you are wearing. Where was it made? What fabric is it? Have you had it a long time or is it something you bought recently? Much of the clothing we wear has questionable origins. It might have been made in a sweatshop and required hundreds of gallons of water to produce. Fast fashion, or buying and quickly disposing of clothing, has a devastating effect on the environment. A simple way to reduce your impact is to shop sustainably and buy clothes that will last. 

The 2018 Global Slavery index found that garment manufacturing was the 2nd largest contributor to modern slavery, the first largest being technology. As the environmental research organization Earth.Org notes, around 92 million tons of textiles end up in landfills each year.

Textile manufacturing uses 20% of the world’s fresh water, according to the educational non-profit Earth Day. Consider buying used clothing to keep it in circulation and reduce the demand for brand new items. Goodwill is a popular destination for secondhand clothes among Kennesaw Mountain students. I have found many dependable outfits from Goodwill. Another local second-hand store is Uptown Cheapskate. Their prices are higher than Goodwill, but they are also more discriminating in the quality of clothes they accept. 

When you examine the material your clothing is made from, you may discover cotton is one of the most pesticide intensive. This is cited by both Earth Day and the National Wildlife Federation. Flax, hemp, Tencel, and bamboo are more sustainable and use significantly less pesticides. Organic cotton can be sustainable but can also consume vast amounts of water. 

The sustainability of leather is complicated. Vegan leather is an option for vegans, but it is plastic-based and less sustainable than actual leather. According to EcoCult, leather is a by-product, meaning it requires less resources to produce than if the cows had been raised solely for their leather. However, the tanning process uses toxic chemicals that can cause severe medical problems in people living near – and working in – the tanning factories. According to Collective Fashion Justice, tanning uses chromium, arsenic, and formaldehyde, causing cancer, skin ailments, and sickness in workers and people exposed to the pollution, most of whom are people of color. Buying secondhand leather is an effective way to get it cheaper and more ethically. This way, you are not directly supporting the leather companies who tan it.

While you are looking for sustainable brands, beware of greenwashing. This is when brands and companies falsely represent themselves as eco-friendly, raising the price while deceiving consumers. A good way to protect yourself from this deception is to looks for the details on what the company is actually doing. Are they putting labels such as “natural” and “eco” without concrete descriptions of their actions? Trusted labels include certified B Corp, leaping bunny, Fair Trade Certified, and Carbon Neutral Certified. EcoCult is the leading international sustainable fashion information platform.

The clothing we buy has a larger impact than we think. By being conscious about its impact and origin, we can be better citizens of the earth while enjoying style and fashion. Here are some sample stores and brands to get you started:

  • Uptown Cheapskate
  • Goodwill
  • For Days
  • Pact
  • Tentree
  • Boody
  • Organic Basics
  • Avocado
  • Backbeat
  • Soluna Collective


  • What to do:
  • Educate yourself about sustainable clothing (Reading this article is a great first step!)
  • Buy less and shop for quality over quantity.   
  • Swap clothes with friends and family. See if you each have clothes or accessories you’re tired of that someone else might like.
  • Learn how to fix small damages in clothing. The longer you keep clothing out of the landfill, the lower its emissions impact is.
  • Buy from thrift and resale stores. You pay less and are reducing the impact on the environment.
  • Buy clothes made with recycled fabric.
  • Pass down clothes to younger family members.
  • Buy natural fabrics like organic cotton, linen, or hemp – they also breathe more easily than synthetics.
  • Take care of your clothes.
  • Choose brands that are ethical, transparent, and sustainable.

Additional Resources: 

The Good Trade