BBB Tip: How to ‘Shop Green’ for Clothing



The way you shop and care for your clothes can have a big impact on your carbon footprint. Numerous reports have uncovered how “fast fashion” can lead to pollution and harm to the environment. What can you do to build an environmentally friendly wardrobe? BBB recommends the following:

Go green clothes shopping and think green when cleaning

  • Double check eco-friendly labels. Many companies make green claims on their packaging and advertisements. The United States Federal Trade Commission’s Green Guides lay out guidelines for businesses making such claims. Still, the FTC reminds people that if a company says its products are made with sustainable materials, plastic-free, eco-friendly, biodegradable, etc. they should be able to back them up with specific information. If a company’s green marketing claim seems vague, think twice before you buy. If you discover a claim that is misleading, you can tell the FTC at reportfraud.ftc.gov
  • Give your support to sustainable brands. Consider adding to your wardrobe from brands that have documented sustainable practices, such as using high-quality natural fibers. The nonprofit Climate Neutral certifies sustainable brands. Their list of fashion companies is a good place to get started. 
  • Choose organic, natural materials. Organic materials are pesticide-free, meaning fewer chemicals are used to harm the earth and water sources. Natural materials are also preferable to synthetic ones, which shed microplastics during washes that contaminate water sources. Synthetic and plastic-based fabrics like polyester, nylon and spandex take decades to decompose, making natural materials like wool, cotton, linen, and silk much wiser choices.
  • Shop secondhand. Earthday.org points out many benefits that come from buying secondhand clothing. Shopping secondhand keeps clothing out of landfills and reduces pollution by lowering the demand for newly manufactured cloths. Here are BBB’s tips on selling used items, including clothing.
  • Think about your laundry habits. Some laundry soaps have harmful petrochemicals that can contaminate water sources. Research and compare earth-friendly laundry soap instead. Set the washing machine to use cold water to cut back on energy use. If it’s possible to line dry clothes instead of using a dryer, this to will save energy and extend the life of your clothes. If you are in the market for a new washing machine, BBB offers tips on buying green appliances.
  • Wash synthetic materials with care. If you already own clothing made from synthetic materials, such as polyester or nylon, wash them in a special washing bag that will keep microplastics from getting into waterways.

For more information

For more tips on green living, see BBB’s article on how to shop green at the grocery store.

Where possible, shop for clothes from companies that are BBB Accredited and adhere to the BBB Standards for Trust.

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