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Consider your closet as a possible way to help the planet.

It can be difficult to find eco-friendly fabrics. Many clothes are made from petroleum based fabrics, such as polyester. Even natural fabrics are grown or treated with major amounts of pesticides and chemicals that aren’t good for the environment. When possible, look for organic cotton. While they aren’t yet widely available, you can also try to find clothes with labels certifying the clothing as fair trade or environmentally friendly, such as Fair Trade Certified, GOTS – The Global Organic Textile Standard, and Oeko Tex 100 certified.

Since it’s difficult to find eco-friendly clothes, try to reduce the amount of new clothing that you buy. At the time of purchase, consider whether the article will last for you. Some trendier items will clearly be discarded after a short time. Consider trying to buy styles that will be suited for a longer lifespan. Be sure that you really like the clothing you buy so that you don’t end up with a closet full of items that have only been worn a few times. Also, keep your closet organized, so that you don’t buy more of something that you already have.

Consider alterations or re-purposing for items that no longer fit or that have gone out of style. Try a re-weaving company, such as Denim Therapy, to mend the holes in your jeans.

When it’s time to buy new clothes, consider e-bay and vintage or re-sale shops. These are especially helpful for children’s clothes, since childrenoften grow faster than the time it takes to show much wear on their clothes. Another way to recycle is to have a clothing swap with friends or colleagues, such as members of your book club, yoga class or members of an organization you belong to.

You should also consider the impact of cleaning your clothes. Dry cleaning uses many chemicals so you should try to buy clothes that don’t need to be dry cleaned. For those that do need dry cleaning, try to let them breathe on a hanger for 24 hours before stuffing them back on the rod between other clothes. Airing your clothes will significantly reduce the need for dry cleaning, which is good for the environment and for your wallet. When you wash clothes, aim for cooler water and cooler drying temperature, when possible. Laying out some of your items to dry helps the environment and keeps your clothes looking nice longer.

And remember to donate your used clothes to clothing drives or to charitable re-sale shops. You will be helping others, as well as keeping items out of landfills.

Originally posted on jewishinstlouis.org at http://www.jewishinstlouis.org/blog_post.aspx?id=5452

Gail Wechsler is the Director of Domestic Issues/Social Justice at the Jewish Community Relations Council of St. Louis. She is the staff person for the Jewish Environmental Initiative (JEI), a committee of the JCRC and a part of the JCRC's Bohm Social Justice Initiative.
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