green your clothing

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Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2007-11-14 11:13.

What you didn’t know:
Of all the pesticides used in the US, 25% of them are applied to cotton. Some of these chemicals can harm you [are the clothes you wear harming you?] A lot of synthetic material available on the market, like polyester, is petroleum based and it takes almost a third of a pound of fertilisers and pesticides to grow enough cotton for one t-shirt! [carewhatyouwear]

Aside from the obvious side-effects of the use of chemicals in the clothing industry, there’s also the ethical aspect to fashion. Most fashion statements are transient – they’re fleeting follies that come and go, leaving a litany of ‘can’t wears’ in the average wardrobe. Suddenly the standard advice to ‘buy classic’ makes a lot of sense – if you’re buying clothes that will last and won’t go out of fashion then you’ve got what today is called ‘eco-savvy’.

Buying clothing as a conscious consumer is not just about the type of material used in the production. It’s about how the crops used to make the clothing were grown and whether the production was ethical or fair trade. It’s about shopping smart and asking questions to reduce the load going into landfill and the waste generated in the production of clothing.

What you can do:

Be fussy
Some would call this being discerning. Buy something only if you absolutely LOVE it. In this way, you cut down on spontaneous shopping and shopping for the sake of it. Finally, ask yourself whether or not you REALLY need to buy the garment that you’ve spontaneously plucked off the rack on your way to the food section? Are you buying because you can, or because you really need another t-shirt?

Buy organic and hemp
Cotton, despite the years of marketing as a clean and natural fabric, uses no less than a third of a pound of chemical fertilizers and pesticides in the production of one t-shirt. [are the clothes you wear harming you?] Organic cotton and other fashion alternatives are making an appearance on the South African market. Woolies is the obvious place to start – they’ve introduced a green range, some of which is 5% organic, but others are 100%. Then local designers such as fundudzi, lunar and eco trend collection all offer organic alternatives. The hemporium and house of hemp are heavily behind the promotion of hemp as an alternative green fibre for clothing and both offer some wonderful hemp fashion options.

Buy vintage
The new term for used clothing is pretty trendy right now, particularly in places like the UK where charity shops are a wonderful source of cheap recycled clothing. Whilst they’re not big in South Africa, there is the odd charity shop worth a visit or get together with a group of friends and each bring 5 garments for a big ‘swop’ session.

Recycle
Instead of throwing away, recycle your old clothes. Some recycling organisations have a section for old clothes, and if they don’t then get your clothes back into circulation by donating them to a community, or resell them from your garage, sell them on the community exchange system or freecycle them.

Tweak it
Is there anything in your wardrobe worth salvaging? Get creative, transform old clothes and find new life for them. Now called ‘a re-purposed garment’ the trend to convert old clothing into new is fast replacing the need to buy new every season.

Look after it
Once you’ve bought a quality organic item, look after it – wash it carefully – turn it inside out when it’s drying in the hot sun, use the lowest temperature when washing and use biodegradable detergents - sun-dry it and try not to dry-clean, as it’s so environmentally unfriendly!

A bit of fun: if you’re really concerned about going green and want to go the extra mile, wash your clothes in this pedal powered washing spin dryer machine

Fair trade
Any clothing that bears the label ‘fair trade’ is produced ethically, using ecologically sound and sustainable practices. And everyone involved gets a fair wage. Fair trade doesn’t just apply to bananas and coffee, it plays a very important part in the clothing and textile industry. [more on fair trade in the clothing industry] Although there isn’t much (if any) available yet in South Africa, there is jewellery and locally produced accessories made by local communities that is worth investing your money in, so look out for these.

Shop local
By supporting locally made clothing there is a lot less chance that your item entailed child labour or unethical labour practices, and it supports a vulnerable industry in South Africa.

If you enjoyed reading this green guide, then you’ll also enjoy:

green your water
green your heating & cooling
green your lighting
green your cleaning
green your personal care
green your baby
eating & shopping organic in Jo’burg
eating & shopping organic in Cape Town

( categories: )

Thanks for some good advice

Thanks for some good advice given here. The only issue I have is with the statement that we have to reduce spending on clothing. Yes, I am in the t shirt business/clothing and this is why I say so, but so are 999 999 other people according to (http://www.busrep.co.za/index.php?fSectionId=553&fArticleId=2500389).

I believe that the key solution to boosting our Industry and becoming more Eco-friendly (Ef) lies in the marrying of the 2 tasks. A proudly South African Product with an Organic stamp on it. We cannot cut down on clothing spending, we just have to spend properly and support local businesses who sell Ef products. Government need to promote the development of green clothing, starting in our knitting mills, so that businesses like mine can produce Ef garments without any difficulties.

We also need to stop looking at Ef clothing as hip/niche but rather as a necessity. I feel that clothing stores like Woolies are exploiting these products as image enhancers to capture the eco-conscious market, which would obviously be the aim of any business but EF should not be a marketing strategy, it should be an environmental and industrial one. If such a large company wants to help save the world they should ensure that some of the money made from their products are fed back into the local Industry, to make those companies producing the goods for them, more environment friendly. It is no use selling EF products, when only the cloth that its made of is EF.

As manufacturers we cannot compete with China when it comes to pricing but if we focus on something that China cannot give us (ie. clean air in Beijing),we can can beat them.

The stamp is ok as long as

The stamp is ok as long as it's cheap and therefore does not stand in the way of smaller enterprises obtaining it / hindering there chances to compete with the big corporations (whom can afford - what often is - some nice piece of marketing to boost sales). In this case the marketing is honest and has true value. We all remember the BS that was 'proudly South African' where you had to be a humungous corporation, often out to screw you over one thousand times over (Telkom comes to mind). I wonder if others are as cynical as I am. I have good right to be. Advertising is often deceptive to the point of criminality. Let's not confuse that with this badge. I'll support it but would like my fiancee with small clothing range to have the option to obtain it too for reasonable cost if it's available. Oh yes, and that 'proudly South African' badge can be burnt at the same time as the 'Dolphin Friendly' one in my mind. Lies and deception, lies and deception.

Please help. I was very

Please help. I was very interested in this comment and I agree.
I am starting my own pure wool clothing business and want to support local, eco-friendly businesses throughout the manufacturing process. However, I am having two problems:
1 - How do I find these companies - is there a site or list for weavers,spinners, dyers etc. of pure wool and manufacturers of pure wool garments? (of course those that support fairtrade or would be willing to).
2 - It seems the wool industry in South Africa is literally disappearing due to China.
Is there anyone out there who can help?

I went through all clothing

I went through all clothing links. None of whom had men's clothing. How sad. But then men's clothing sucks big-time whether you go green or not in Cape Town. Either it's the large corporations or very small selections at (only a handful of...) niche outlets. My trip to Buenos Aires last year opened my eyes. I will wear those clothes out and conjour up an environmetally-friendly (sarcasm) trip purely for shopping. I'll alleviate any guilt by rationalising that I was 'forced into it' due to either an abundance of garbage manufactured in China, or no catering for men via organic / green options... blah blah, I could go one. Rant over.

Organic Bras and Broeks

Where can I find alternatives to mass produced and planet killing underwear please?

organic ladies

at the moment , one can only order small amounts of underwear by mail from ecoland web , usa.
if you order too much the customs is too high. there are millions of organic clothe & underwear webs in usa & canada , all incredibly wonderful .
some cheap some expensive, only few will send to s.a.

if someone ever gets an imprting license , please let me know !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

organic ladies

there is organic cotton underwear panties for R99 at pregnancy shelf at Wellness shop in kloof str cape town - but it is amost all cotton with some nylon or lycra & little poly- something.
last year , woolworths mens underwear was 100% organic.