Last year, when I decided to make thrift shops the theme of Thrift Week, I was inspired in part by an article I'd read about the ecological perils of modern "fast fashion." Aside from how obviously wasteful it is to wear a garment for a single season and then discard it as outdated, today's ultra-cheap garments are usually made with eco-unfriendly fibers, toxic dyes, and sweatshop labor in brutal conditions.
The real question is, what's the alternative? Fast fashion dominates the malls and clothing outlets, so it's hard to find anything that's more sustainably made. And while there are a few retailers out there that specialize in eco-friendly and humanely produced clothing, these "sustainable" garments often have unsustainably high prices. You could, of course, just buy fewer garments each year, which is what consumers used to do decades ago. But high-end, eco-friendly clothing doesn't necessarily hold up to wear any better than the cheap stuff, so you could end up having to replace your $200 pants every year—a bitter pill for an ecofrugal shopper to swallow.
My latest Money Crashers article explores some solutions to this dilemma. First, I examine just what it means for clothing to be sustainable: what types of fibers, dyes, and workplace policies go into making garments that are easier on the earth and on workers. Then I explore the various ways there are to acquire secondhand clothing (the mainstay of the ecofrugal shopper's wardrobe), including thrift shops, yard sales, online sites, clothing swaps, and Freecycle. And finally, I list several eco-friendly brands on the market that actually have fairly reasonable prices—not as low as you'd find at Target or Walmart, but on a par with department-store brands of similar quality.
Here's the article: How to Buy Sustainable, Eco-Friendly Clothing on a Budget