You care about fashion and you care about the environment. You love all seasons: nature’s seasons and the fashion seasons. But what if there was a conflict between the two? Awareness is growing about their relationship. Some people feel “fast fashion” is contributing to landfills. More and more, we’re seeing clothing made from “eco” resources like bamboo, hemp, and soy.

What should you look for when you’re shopping? Should you even be shopping? What if your fashion habits were harming the earth?

No one wants to contribute to landfills, poison the air, or threaten natural resources. If these issues have been on your mind, here are ten tips to help you feel like you’re protecting the environment while enjoying your fashion and style.

Eco-Care Shopping Tips

1. Some leading designers are passionate about using sustainable materials in their fashion lines. If this is important to you too, do your research to learn more. Some search terms to use are sustainable fashion, eco-friendly fashion, and vegan fashion.

To begin to understand the part garment workers are playing in the role of delivering fashion to your local stores, consider learning more through places like the Ethical Trading Initiative. Understanding where your fashion comes from will give you more choice to support the companies that value what you value.

2. Before you go shopping for more things, determine what your needs are. Take a wardrobe inventory to raise awareness about what you have and what’s missing. A few well-chosen items may be all you need to get maximum enjoyment from your wardrobe. An image consultant can show you how to work your wardrobe so it better serves your needs. You’ll make fewer mistakes.

3. Shop smarter by focusing on your style and not falling for trends that will come and go. Items that support your personal style will stay with you season after season, and you won’t tire of them. When you’re confident about your style, you’re less tempted to get into a habit of shopping all the time, buying into fast fashion, and spending money on cheap items that you throw away after one season. If you’re unclear about your style, an image consultant can help you understand it so you focus your purchases on one’s that are sustainable to you. That’s being eco-friendly!

Eco-Care Laundering Tips

1. Get in the habit of using your electric dryer less. Hang drying straight out of the washing machine has many benefits. Not only will your clothes have a longer life, you’ll be reducing energy consumption. Dryers can fade colors fast and are harder on the fibers of your clothes. Use an outdoor clothesline and you’ll get hooked on the fresh smell Nature gives you for free!

2. Consider changing laundry detergents. “Green” products are marketed to have fewer harmful chemicals and are biodegradable. These products aren’t seen as health-food products anymore. Major grocery stores now carry eco-friendly detergents. And if you don’t find what you’re looking for, talk to the manager.

3. Newer washing machines have lots of energy saving features. Is it time to consider purchasing a new home appliance to support your efforts to be kind to the environment?

4. Make a conscious effort to avoid purchasing garments that need to be dry-cleaned. Dry cleaning puts an extra burden on the environment and adds to the cost of your garments over time. People get in the habit of taking things to the dry cleaners when all they really need is to be aired out. You can do this outdoors on your patio, or hang items over your shower rod and let the steam refresh your clothes. Curtailing a reliance on dry cleaning helps the environment.

Eco-Care Purging Tips

1. When it comes to clothing donations, think beyond donation boxes. Your community could benefit from your discards. Which nonprofit groups are focused on finding clothes for people in need? Your local churches, women’s shelters, rehab facilities, work force organizations, and homeless shelters could use the clothes you’re ready to donate. Some groups even have volunteer pickups. Call and find out. If others can benefit from your castoffs, you’re not adding to landfills.

2. Some of your purchases may not have worked out as well as you thought they would. These are perfect items to take down to your local consignment store for resale. Take the money you earn from the sale and use it to shop with your professional image consultant and make smarter purchases, or donate those checks to a favorite charity.

3. Create a clothing swap with a group of friends or associates. Pick a date and settle on the location. Set up a few basic rules. Bring clothes you’re ready to trade for someone else’s castoffs. Agree to donate what doesn’t get traded to a local charity. Don’t go home with clothes you brought!

Bonus tip: A fashion consultant is your trusted resource to help you make smart decisions and guide you toward being eco-responsible.

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