Warm Yourself, Not the Planet
How to keep warm, while staying green
Come winter season, many people start shopping for clothes that will keep them toasty warm. To avoid that winter chill this holiday season, spend your dollars on affordable, sustainable clothing while saving energy. Follow these tips to learn how to be a greenie, even under the snowfall.
When shopping, consider these guidelines:
- Wool and heavy cotton sweaters are best for insulating your body against the cold weather. If you prefer a fleece sweater look for those that are made out of recycled fibers, like Patagonia’s recycled polyester clothes.
- When washing your sweaters, remember to use eco-friendly detergent and to let them air dry when a bit moist. Shrunken sweaters are never in style.
- Keeping your extremities warm and snuggly is a must, especially in the snow. If you live in a very windy and wet region, invest in water resistant pants. Keeping dry will limit the amount of clothes changes you have to make and this will ultimately decrease the amount of energy you will use on washing your clothes.
- Pants made out of recycled or organic fibers are always easier on the environment because they require little energy and no pesticides to produce.
- Ask any winter athlete and they will tell you, the proper foundation to any winter outfit is adequate undergarments. If you are planning to spend a great deal of time outdoors, make sure you are wearing thermal leggings. Leggings come in all types of fabrics and lengths.
- When shopping, buy those made out of organic fabric and avoid purchasing those that are loose fitting. Loose leggings will allow the cold air to travel between the fabric and your legs.
- If you can’t find leggings, think long-johns.
- Before you buy a new coat, try reinventing any coats you may already own. Replace the buttons, change out one trench coat belt for another, or even swap coats with a friend or family member.
- When you finally decide there is no hope for that old coat and truly need a new one; shop green. Look for coats made of natural fibers like organic cotton and linen, bamboo fabric, or hemp.
- If a way to stay dry and remember your childhood is appealing, try a pair of rubber boots. Unless you’re running in them for extended periods, they should last a long time and can be recycled when worn out.
- Scarves come in a wide variety of styles and eco-friendly materials. Choose scarves that are made from materials such as hemp, linen, organic cotton or wool.
- Protecting your hands from the cold is very important as your hands release heat very quickly. When choosing gloves, pick those that are made from organic materials.
- Your head is the major heat-releaser of your body, so wear a hat that covers your whole head, including your ears, during chilly temperatures.
Layer. One of the best ways to stay warm in winter is to layer. The layer closest to your skin should be made out of materials that soak up moisture to prevent sweat from cooling down your body. The next layer of clothes should be made out of materials that insulate, such as organic cotton or wool. The outside layer of clothing should be waterproof. Depending on the temperature, you can wear as many or as few layers as necessary.
Do it yourself. Who says clothes need to be bought? Gloves, hats, scarves, and even sweaters can be fun, relaxing DIY projects. You can find knitting tutorials online. Just make sure to choose organic yarn made from natural fibers.
Thrift stores. Besides choosing eco-friendly clothing this winter, you can also decrease your carbon footprint by buying clothing at thrift stores. Choosing to shop at thrift store eliminates the energy needed to manufacture and ship new clothes. Not only is recycled clothing helpful to the environment, it is beneficial to your wallet.
Online shopping. Shopping online can be eco-friendly and convenient. When shopping for clothes online, skip the big retailers; buy second-hand clothing direct from sellers instead. Forums and marketplaces, like eBay, are filled with people selling their old clothing. Just make sure the seller does not have negative reviews.
Avoid fur. The manufacturing process of fur is a very extensive one. The production of fur entails agriculture, pesticides, possibly environmentally unstable hunting and chemical processes.
Other Considerations/Common Mistakes
- Check the labels and make sure your coat is in fact green and not an explosion of man-made fabrics.
- Avoid buying a new coat at all costs- trade with friends and family, buy used or even trade it in for a used coat and resist that shopping urge at least until next winter.
- After you have made your smart purchase, consider donating your old coat. If you don’t need it anymore, someone else may.
- …to your health
Staying warm this winter in sustainable clothing will keep you healthy as you will be less susceptible to catching a cold.
- …to your wallet
Buying recycled clothing or making your own accessories this winter will save you more money than if you buy new clothing.
- …to the Earth
Choosing organic clothing free from pesticides decreases the amount of these harmful chemicals released in the environment. Also, your carbon footprint will decrease if you buy recycled clothing.