Going green is the new black

One affordable way of being eco-friendly is by refurbishing old clothes in your closet.  (credit: Adelaide Cole | Art Editor) One affordable way of being eco-friendly is by refurbishing old clothes in your closet. (credit: Adelaide Cole | Art Editor)

For a lot of girls (and guys), retail therapy is the best kind of therapy. Recently, however, more and more shopaholics are becoming environmentally conscious and are trying to add a green touch to their wardrobe. Designers are catching on to this trend, which is not only proving to be a profitable corner of the market, but is also good for the planet.

Sustainable fashion, or eco fashion, follows the design philosophy that a product should be created, produced, and distributed with the lowest possible impact on the environment. This includes practices like making the product out of biodegradable materials and lowering the carbon footprint of manufacturing the product. To apply this mindset to your next shopping spree, try to buy clothes made from natural fibers like organic cotton, bamboo fiber, wool, hemp, or silk, and check the tag to see if it’s made in the United States. Buying things that are made in the United States is an easy way of being more environmentally friendly since it eliminates the large carbon footprint created by shipping products from overseas.

The problem with sustainable fashion is that stylish eco-friendly clothes are usually not very wallet-friendly, and many eco-friendly options leave you looking like a cross between a third grader’s craft project and someone on their way to a Phish concert. And you definitely don’t want to end up being the crazy tree hugger who has a shirt made out of toilet paper and a vest made from old cigarette butts — you can look them up, they’re both unfortunately real.

Don’t worry, though. With some time and creativity, you can avoid both extremes and add some fashionable yet economical and sustainable clothes to your wardrobe. A good place to start is a thrift store, a garage sale, or even your own closet. Get some old clothes made from natural fibers, some scissors, and a sewing machine, and you can upcycle an old T-shirt into a miniskirt or an oversized floral nightgown into a summer dress. If you’re not very skilled with a sewing machine (or you can’t bear to keep that hideous hat you bought on a misguided whim), just donate your old clothes and restock your closet with newer, more eco-friendly ones.

Shopping green doesn’t only have to apply to your clothes; it can also apply to your beauty products. Makeup, shampoos, and cleansers with harmful artificial materials are not only bad for the environment, they’re bad for you, too. Try switching up your routine by trying out natural beauty brands like Burt’s Bees, Origins, or Aveda. Or, if you’re not too keen on shelling out $20 for 4.2 ounces of organic hand cream, why not fall back on classic DIY beauty products that won’t cost you a cent? Honey and avocado will give you a refreshing face mask, coconut oil can deeply condition your hair, and if you mix together a cup of brown sugar, raw oatmeal, and olive oil, you’ve got yourself an exfoliating scrub.

So, if you’re a fashion-lover-recently-turned-environmentalist, don’t think that you have to completely wipe out your entire wardrobe and start over. If you start being more environmentally conscious in your shopping and encourage your friends to do the same, you will make a difference. After all, being green is always in style.