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Eco Friendly Clothing Materials

April 20, 2012

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With spring in the air, a lot of us are looking to hit the re-start button. And Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to focus on renewal. Kidzworld interviewed Terra Wellington, actress, environmentalist and the author of a new book, The Mom's Guide to Growing Your Family Green.

Kidzworld: What materials are the greenest and why?

Terra: For new clothes, if you can find clothing made out of organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, recycled polyester, or Tencel (made from wood pulp) -- these are the more eco-friendly fabrics. 

Organic cotton is currently one of the more commonly found eco-friendly materials.  To grow and process regular cotton (also called "conventional cotton"), it usually requires a lot of intensive chemicals and pesticides -- and some people feel that the residue from those chemicals stay in this cotton after a shirt or pants are made.  However, with organic cotton the farmers are required to grow the cotton without toxic fertilizers and pesticides.  This is of great benefit to you, so that you're not exposed to these chemicals, as well as great benefit to our soils, water, and beneficial insects (like bees).

Hemp is not as common but has great promise because it requires little-to-no pesticides or herbicides, less water to grow, and can be turned into several different types of fabrics -- faux silk, linen, knit, stretch, canvas, and muslin.

Other fabrics like bamboo, recycled polyester, and Tencel are great for reasons of using less resources to grow (bamboo), re-using (recycled polyester), and being biodegradable and chemical free (Tencel).

Kidzworld: Which brands are using green materials right now?

TerraLevi's has a "waterless" jean. The company has found ways to make jeans without using so much water in the manufacturing process -- the site is super cool and is in partnership with my friends at Water.org.

H&M has an eco-friendly Conscious line. This is unique because H&M is known for fast fashion.  This is a beautiful, budget-friendly line that just debuted. Blouses, jackets, skirts, pants, shorts, and dresses use Tencel, recycled polyester (made of PET bottles and textile waste), and organic cotton.

Anvil Knitwear has an "eco" collection of t-shirts made from organic cotton and recycled polyester. And American Apparel has a number of basic organic t-shirts, dresses, and underwear. 

Hanes also has a green line of clothes, made from recycled plastic bottles. It's their  ComfortBlend™ EcoSmart®  line and features T-shirts, sweatshirts and polo shirts. In one year, Hanes will recycle the equivalent of more than 10 million plastic bottles to produce these shirts. "Revenge Is" is another lined based in LA that uses similar materials.

I wish more retailers and brands would be more consistent and dedicated to sustainable fashion.  Sometimes you'll see a blip of organic t-shirts for sale around Earth Day, or you'll find socks made of organic cotton mixed in with everything else.  But the fashion industry has been very slow to provide eco-friendly choices, especially for teens -- which is why H&M and Levi's, in particular, are to be commended.  This is also why I highly recommend "re-use", as it is often a much easier way for teens to go green.

Kidzworld: Tell us more about re-use materials.

Terra:  Re-use fashion, also called vintage, is one of the most fun ways you can go green. By re-using clothes instead of sending them to the landfill, you're showing your love for less waste. Much of the new clothes that you find in the mall or department stores looks the same.  Re-using vintage pieces is a great way to show your unique style and be creative. If you're crafty, sometimes all it takes is a little embellishment, a little extra dart or pleat, or some fun accessories to put together a very happening re-use combo. There's a store in Los Angeles called "It's a Wrap" in which the film studios off-load all their clothing from movies and TV shows, and the public can come in and purchase designerwear and cute clothing at a discount. 

Also, if you have a special occasion coming up, such as prom, you might consider renting your dress.  In many of the major cities the dress rental business has become more sophisticated, and you can find amazing, cute dresses to rent for about $50.00.  By renting a dress that you will probably never wear again, you are not only saving money but also supporting re-use.

Have Your Say

Do you do vintage or is it just a pile of someone's old clothes to you? What do you think of the hot eco-friendly styles above? Tell us below and share your thoughts!

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