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Fossil Fuels: Are You Wearing Petroleum-Based Clothing?

When you think of the top contributor to pollution, the oil industry is probably a safe guess. However, designer Eileen Fisher boldly points out that the clothes we wear may be a close second. While many are quick to question the integrity behind that claim, a climate change and textiles study found that the fashion industry is responsible for nearly 10 percent of our global greenhouse emissions! It’s no secret that fast fashion — the relatively new industry that attracts consumers with their cheap and accelerated production of the latest trends — is harmful to the environment. In fact, polyester, the most commonly used affordable fabric, is actually made from petroleum.

Changing from single-use plastics to reusable options has become mainstream. Fast fashion’s success, however, illustrates that consumers tend to overlook or at least tolerate the industry’s environmental impact. The affordability combined with its capacity to quickly capture the latest trends is hard for many to pass up. Choosing ethically sourced clothing, however, doesn’t have to be as expensive or difficult as it seems. Here are some tips on how to spot petroleum-based clothing the NEXT time you shop. No need to go through your closet in a panic and throw out any clothes you suspect to be unethically sourced, just for it to end up in a landfill.

What are they made of?

Sometimes simply looking at the tag can give you a hint as to whether or not the item is ethically sourced. For example, clothing made from organic cotton is usually better for the environment than its alternative because it minimizes harmful pesticide usage. Although there is little regulation over what is and isn’t ‘organic’, this fabric is definitely a good starting point for shopping sustainably. In fact, supporting organic cotton is supporting higher incomes for farmers as well. Other materials such as hemp and linen are also more environmentally friendly. Both require very little water and pesticides to produce.

Where does it come from?

Another helpful tip to shopping sustainably is looking at the ‘made in’ label. Although where an item is made does not present the full picture of whether it is petroleum-based or not, manufacturing closer to your home guarantees less shipping and thus means a smaller carbon footprint for your clothes. If you’re having trouble finding affordable organic cotton, linen, or hemp-based products, buying locally produced clothing can be a step in the right direction on the path to better eco-friendly shopping.

Get Thrifty!

Perhaps the most affordable option for reducing your clothes’ carbon footprint is shopping from second-hand stores. Not only do you save the products from ending up in a landfill, but you can also rest assured knowing that no new greenhouse gases were emitted for that item. Not to mention, thrifted prices are usually a great deal.

Shopping sustainably does not have to be as difficult or expensive as you may think. Some items in your closet may be petroleum-based, but incorporating these tips when shopping will help minimize the impact of your future purchases.

Don’t Stop at Your Wardrobe…

The clothing industry is just one example of how the world’s economy is wrapped up in environmental harm. The ‘‘Demand Green’ portfolio strives to give investors access to a globally diversified portfolio that is mindful of the environment across many sectors of the economy. To learn more about our eco-friendly investment options, click here.

This report is a publication of Demand Wealth. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date, but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author as of the date of publication and are subject to change.

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