To live a more eco-friendly lifestyle, a number of individuals have put their lifestyle on a “diet.” Some notable eco-dieters include Colin Beavan , the author of “No Impact Man,” who gave up modern day conveniences and luxuries to help save the planet. And Mark Boyle, author of “The Moneyless Man: A Year of Freeconomic Living.” Boyle’s eco-diet involved going an entire year without spending a dollar while living a more environmentally responsible lifestyle.
Under the radar is another movement that challenges consumers to reduce consumption by putting their wardrobe on a diet for an entire year. The Great American Apparel Diet (GAAD) encourages individuals to take the one-year wardrobe diet challenge which entails avoiding any new clothing purchases for an entire year. This is no small task as the U.S. Department of Labor estimates the average American consumer spends $1,881 per year on apparel and clothing related services.
An Apparel Diet Reduces Consumption and Environmental Impact
Beyond helping you spend less, an apparel diet also helps minimize your impact on the planet. Making clothing isn’t exactly green. Man-made fabrics such as polyester and nylon are petroleum based. Traditionally grown Cotton requires a tremendous amount of water and relies heavily upon pesticides.
In fact, a September 2007 article by Luz Claudio in “Environmental Health Perspectives” stated that the EPA considers many textile manufacturers as generators of hazardous waste. The same article revealed that the EPA Office of Solid Waste states as much as 68 pounds of clothing per American citizen ends up in the waste stream each year.
To keep clothing costs down, clothing is often made in other countries and then shipped to the United States for purchase, traveling several thousand miles in the process. Even environmentally-friendly new clothing can have a relatively high carbon footprint. According to the Footprint Chronicles by Patagonia , a pair of organic cotton jeans travels over 10,000 miles and generates 83 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.
Reduce the Impact of Your Wardrobe
If you’re not ready to stop buying new clothing, the folks at Great American Apparel Diet offer a few tidbits of advice to consider when making new clothing purchases. They recommend never buying any clothing item just because it is on sale. Avoid buying clothing items that you don’t already have pieces to go with it. Seek out clothing that has timeless, classic appeal instead of trendy fashions. When you need a new sweater or pair of jeans, shop at second hand stores first. And last but not least, determine if the new clothing you desire is really necessary or just another item you want.
The Great American Apparel Diet www.thegreatamericanappareldiet.com
Visual Economics, How Average US Consumer Spends Their Paycheck http://www.visualeconomics.com/how-the-average-us-consumer-spends-their-paycheck/
Environmental Health Perspectives, Waste Couture: Environmental Impact of the Clothing Industry by Luz Claudio, September 2007, http://www.bvsde.paho.org/bvsacd/cd66/LuzClaudio.pdf