General Industry Talk

5 Ways to Make Your Wardrobe More Sustainable, by Maxine Bedat

Screenshot from ZADY’s infographic on Fashion and Climate. 

This piece was written by Maxine Bedat of ZADY. For more information on sustainability in the fashion industry, check out ZADY’s The New Standard

If you’ve already tackled the issues laid out in my piece, 5 Questions Every Conscious Consumer Should Ask, you might think of this as the next step in your journey – considering the details of production and the larger environmental and human costs of over-consumption.


1. Choose Alpaca over Cashmere. 

It takes five cashmere goats to make one sweater whereas you can create five sweaters from just one alpaca. Furthermore, cashmere goats eat grass by pulling it from the root, thus leading to desertification in China and Mongolia. 

 2. Buy only what you love. 

Americans throw away 65-70 lbs of clothing each year. Invest in products you love and will own over the course of a lifetime. 

 3. Buy fewer, and better. 

More than 150 Billion garments are produced every year. That’s enough to provide more than 20 new articles of clothing to every person on the planet, every year. 

 4. Avoid clothing produced in countries with coal-based power grids. 

The top two countries for fashion is China and Bangladesh. Both of these countries rely heavily on coal, the fossil fuel for their power supply. And our fashion factories are not any different. These factories, are plugged into that coal supplied grid pumping out all that clothing that we end up wearing, on average, only seven times. 

 5. Choose organic cotton and natural fibers over synthetics. 

Polyester, a plastic material made of crude oil, is now the most commonly used fiber in our clothing, and the trend is only increasing. Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are needed to make the world’s polyester fiber each year– enough to fill the Empire State Building 10 times. Polyester takes more than 200 years to decompose.


A few takeaways:

Even though I’ve been researching and talking about ethics and sustainability for awhile now, I had no idea that China and Bangladesh were coal dependent or that I should care about it. I’m glad there are brands and organizations that have the perspective and the connections to see how pieces of the global manufacturing system work (or, in many cases, don’t work) together. I’m reading a great book on the global manufacturing industry and it’s crazy how convoluted everything is. I’ll try to remember to review Fugitive Denim once I’m finished with it. 
Also, I just bought an Alpaca sweater thanks to a very nice friend (shout out to Mary!) who gave me a NOVICA gift card for my birthday, so I’ll have more to say on that subject soon. 

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  1. Thanks for the suggestion! I've heard a lot of good things about alpaca, so I'm excited to get my sweater.

  2. Yup, after learning all about alpaca vs cashmere from Zady, I now proselytize the wonders of alpaca to anyone who will listen. I'll never buy anything made of cashmere (unless it's secondhand). I also now avoid Merino wool thanks to Zady. A great company to get alpaca accessories from, if you still need hats or scarves or gloves, is Greenola. It's all fair trade, all alpaca, all lovely. I've purchased my last two pairs of glittens from them and they're wonderful.

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