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Week 13: #Waves4Change 2020 Sustainability Challenge – Slowing the Environmental Impact of Clothing

Why Take This Challenge?

It takes on average 1,800 gallons of water to make a single pair of jeans. More than 60 percent of fabric fibers are now synthetics, derived from fossil fuels, so when these clothes end up in a landfill they will not decay. Fast fashion, the pieces you can find at bargain mall chains or big box stores heavily contribute to the endless cycle of buy, wear, toss, repeat – all with very unethical eco and labor standards. The fast-fashion impact is so bad that the U.N. declared “fast fashion” an environmental and social “emergency.”

Luckily, many companies are taking action to help slow the amount of pollution and waste created by the garment industry, giving you a lot of options! You can now easily buy ethically made clothing, rent clothing and buying pre-loved is more popular than ever.


How Does This Challenge Benefit Me?

The average woman throws away 82 pounds of clothing every year. Think of all the wasted water, money, and environmental resources literally going in the dumpster. You can average out how your small but significant changes can help the environment with the below information on how much water it roughly takes to create each piece of clothing you buy:

  • T-shirt – 659 gallons
  • Jeans – 1,800 gallons
  • Leather Shoes – 3,626 gallons


What Else Can I Do? What if I Already Do This?

Find a friend and help convert them! It’s not easy giving up shopping every weekend and cheap clothes can be tempting. Talk to your friends about the benefits you’ve experienced and help them take the leap!

Also, when thinking about buying new, remember to look beyond the marketing jargon on a tag. Some retailers use this to trick customers in to feeling good about purchasing the item because they throw a green tag on it that says “Eco-Conscious”. What does “eco-conscious” really mean? What are their standards? Likely, not much of anything. This is called greenwashing. H&M and Zara have used this misleading tactic for over a decade – learn more here:


Prep This Weekend for a More Sustainable Week

It’s spring, so you are likely going to be preparing your closet for warmer-weather clothes. Take inventory of what you have, you probably have some items you forgot about! If you do need to replace items, consider exploring your local thrift or consignment store, or online resale shop (thredUp, Tradsey or Swap.) These stores only put out items in good condition and it gives these garments a longer life, all while saving you a lot of money!

If you can’t find what you need at a thrift store, check out some of these ethical and sustainable designers. is a good resource for finding ethical sources as well:

  • Alternative Apparel – Adult apparel, bags, accessories – Sustainable & eco-friendly materials, nontoxic & low-impact dyes, fair labor.
  • Girlfriend Collective – Inclusive sizing adult activewear. Recycled materials, inclusive sizing, ethical working conditions, fair wages.
  • Pact – Women’s, Men’s, baby, children’s and home. Fair Trade Certified, organic cotton, B Corp.
  • Reformation – Women’s apparel, outerwear, bridal. Made in USA, uses sustainable fabrics, purchases carbon offsets, pays living wages.
  • Everlane – Women and men’s apparel, accessories, shoes. Ethical production process, radical transparency.
  • Outdoor Voices – Women and Men’s activewear. Uses recycled materials, ethical production.
  • Eileen Fisher – Women’s apparel, accessories and shoes. Fair Trade Certified collections, sustainable materials & practices.
  • Mara Hoffman – Women’s apparel. Sustainable & ethical production methods, eco-conscious fabrics, radical transparency.

Another option to keep your wardrobe fresh is to rent your clothing. When you rent, for a monthly fee clothes are delivered to your door, you wear them, and then send them back to be cleaned. This helps avoid the short lifecycle of purchasing clothing.

  • Rent the Runway – Rent everything from women’s activewear, to weekend outfits, to business casual and gowns for a gala. RTR is an eco-friendly alternative giving clothing a longer life, reusable garment bag, responsible dry cleaning and gives back.
  • Let Tote – Rent athleisure, casual, event or professional women’s clothing.
  • Nuuly – Rent top designers, premium denim and vintage clothing.

Taking this challenge? Spread the word and use the hashtag #Waves4Change so we can change the world together and inspire others to live better.