The 3 R’s of Clothing: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Aiming for a more sustainable lifestyle? You may be considering a hybrid car, dutifully sorting your recyclables, and revising your cooking habits to reduce food waste. Those are all great strategies, but have you considered how your wardrobe might fit into an eco-friendly lifestyle? Let's take a look at how you can apply the three R's (reduce, reuse, and recycle) to your clothing choices. 


One way to decrease your impact on the environment is to buy less clothing. Affordable clothing and frequently shifting fashion trends might tempt you to continually add to your wardrobe, but stop and consider what you really need. The concept of a minimalist "capsule wardrobe", containing fewer, more versatile pieces, is catching on. Choosing higher-quality pieces that will last can keep you from constantly needing to buy new clothes.


What does "reuse" mean for your clothing choices? It might mean buying used clothing, whether from your local thrift store or online consignment shops. Buying used can let you get your favorite brands at a better price, and it reduces the impact that producing new clothing has on the environment. You could also create a clothing swap with friends and neighbors.

Another way to reuse clothing is to have some fun with "upcycling". Upcycling means transforming items that are past their prime into new creations. There are many simple ways to upcycle clothing, like turning sweater sleeves into fashionable legwarmers, or cutting the legs off your old jeans for a new pair of shorts. You can also get more creative and turn old T-shirts into bags or throw pillows.


The most obvious way to incorporate recycling into your clothes shopping is to recycle any packaging that comes with newly purchased items. If you want to go even further, you may be able to find a textile recycling project in your area. Textile recycling helps keep fabrics out of landfills--old clothing can be turned into raw fabric for new pieces or cut into rags for cleaning.

With a bit of effort and creativity, your wardrobe can become as sustainable as the rest of your lifestyle.