Making a conscious decision to wear eco-friendly clothing is good for the environment and good for you. Clothing that carries an eco-friendly label is often made from organically grown natural fibers, which include hemp, cotton, soy, some bamboo and wool. Cotton is a natural fiber, but choosing cotton that was not grown as organic subjects the wearer to many chemicals, along with the land used to grow it. As a commodity, cotton production uses just three percent of the world’s land, but consumes 25 percent of the world’s pesticides, second behind corn production.
When looking for environmentally friendly clothing, check the labels. Unlike food, the USDA does not certify organic clothing. Instead, look for a label that shows a T-shirt with the words “Global Organic Textile Standard” printed around it. The International Working Group on Global Organic Textile Standard (IWG GOTS) is the only organization that certifies clothing as organic.
Another consideration when choosing eco-friendly clothing is to look for the Fair Trade label. Companies who make Fair Trade products must meet 10 requirements before the organization certifies the product as eco- and people-friendly. Free Trade producers receive market-based payments for the cost of the goods they produce using organic or sustainable techniques. The payments are often much higher than sweatshop rates at offshore factories, known to exploit workers and the environment.
Some retailers specialize in nothing but organic or fair-trade clothing and these stores can be local or online. More and more larger retailers are stocking clothing that is organic or free trade, so when shopping in local stores, the staff can direct you to the racks or shelves that contain the certified clothing. If you experience difficulty finding these types of clothing locally, online or in your budget, consider buying second-hand from consignment shops or thrift stores. The racks in these retailers are often full of good clothing. Keeping clothing from going to the landfill helps the environment as much as organic and Fair Trade clothing.