Living Green 365: Fashion

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Living Green 365

Reduce, reuse, and recycle your fashion

While we all need clothes, there is good reason to think about reducing, reusing, and recycling before we shop. A recent report calculated that doubling the useful life of home furnishings and clothing is like increasing the efficiency of your car by 15 percent. Another study from the Netherlands found that creating one t-shirt uses half a day's worth of household electricity--and three times that much to wash, dry, and iron the shirt over its lifetime.

Here are fun, easy ways to reduce the amount of new clothing you buy, without compromising fashion or the need to refresh your wardrobe once in a while. Be creative with your clothing.
Sewing a button

Extend the life of the clothes you have. Buy high quality clothing and learn to clean and care for your items. Patagonia has a product care guide for many types of fabric.

Repair broken items. Learn how to do simple repairs yourself, like fixing zippers and buttons, darning socks, and sewing a ripped seam. There are many how to videos on YouTube. You can also connect with people who sew through the Minneapolis / St. Paul American Sewing Guild Chapter. When repairs are beyond your ability, look for local repair shops who work with textiles and leather.

Reduce the impact of laundering. This includes air-drying your clothing on a line or drying rack, even during the winter. A large drying rack can hold a whole load and dries overnight. Wash clothes with cold water and if your washing machine is more than 10 years old, purchase an ENERGY STAR rated washing machine.

Reconsider dry cleaning. Most dry cleaning is still done with a hazardous air pollutant having both worker health and environmental concerns. Reduce the need for dry cleaning by purchasing fabrics that do not require it. Not only is it better for the environment, it will save you money in reduced dry cleaning costs. Some items can be cared for at home instead. When dry cleaning is necessary, use an environmentally-friendly dry cleaner or a certified green cleaner in MN. Also, ask to ditch the bag or recycle it.

Shop your closet. Learn to mix and match your clothes to create fun, new combinations and emphasize accessories. In 2010, 145 students from the University of Minnesota class were challenged to wear six items or less for a whole month. While you might not take the Six Items or Less Challenge, it is interesting to read one student’s thoughts about the project and consider how you might do more with less.

Host a clothing swap. Gather with friends and bring clothes that you just don’t wear anymore. Everyone goes home with something new! This New American Dream video will show you how.

Find your favorite consignment or thrift store. Look for a reuse store that fits your style. Minnesota has reuse stores for all kinds of clothing, from everyday wear to high-end.
clothing swap
Recycle worn clothes. Ripped pants, shirts, shoes and other worn items can be dropped off at Wipers Recycling in Maplewood, MN. You can also recycle old blue jeans into cotton fiber insulation through the Cotton from Blue To Green mail-in program.

Have fun at fashion shows. Check out these designer events and stay on top of the hottest in recycled fashion.
  • St. Kate’s students will show off their recycled-materials designs at Katwalk, May 14, 7:30 p.m., St. Catherine University (St. Paul).
  • The Great Reuse Race Finish Line Party will include a reused fashion show, April 22, 2-3:30 p.m. Arc’s Value Village Thrift Store (St. Paul).
  • Redefining, Redesigning Fashion, an exhibition at the Goldstein Museum of Design at the University of Minnesota. Proposals for this competitive exhibition are due May 1, 2012. Exhibition is on display January-May 2013.

Community events and resoures

The Minneapolis College of Art and Design is hosting a free sustainable film series, April 18, 7 p.m., Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

The Great Reuse Race is a two-week long, competitive scavenger hunt through the Twin Cities reuse community, April 9-22, 2012. The event, which is hosted locally by Reuse Alliance MN, has 17 physical stops, 11 virtual stops. Have fun, scope out new reuse stores, and win some great prizes. 

Midtown Global Market and Do it Green! Minnesota will celebrate Earth Day by sharing “Tools for a Greener Future.”  Guests can learn a variety of sustainable practices that will make a positive impact on the environment now and in the years to come, April 21, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Midtown Global Market (Minneapolis).

Receive news about clean energy projects and opportunities happening across the state from the Clean Energy Resource Teams. MN Energy Stories highlights local innovation, economic development, cost savings, job growth, and sustainability by covering inspiring stories of local communities.

Thank you for reading Living Green 365! This newsletter is a publication of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Please send questions or comments about living green to the address below.
Britt Gangeness and the Living Green Team