For some travelers, booking a trip is a great excuse to update their travel wardrobe. But often, the cost of that flowy dress or on-trend bikini is more than the dollar amount on the price tag. According to Earth.org, a website dedicated to environmental data analysis and research, the fashion industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters, accounting for nearly 20 percent of global wastewater and 10 percent of global carbon emissions each year. And it’s not just the production of clothing that’s the issue—each year, humans discard more than 92 million tons of clothes-related waste.
Doing further damage? The fabrics commonly used in fast fashion: Synthetic fabrics like acrylic and polyester are essentially plastic. Derived from oil, the fabrics are produced with an energy-intensive process that involves toxic gasses and chemicals. Plus, with every wash and wear, synthetic fabrics shed microplastics that wind up in the ocean.
While the bleak statistics are enough to make you swear off shopping forever, there are sustainable alternatives to the global fast fashion industry. Between resale apps and thrift stores, vintage and second-hand clothing have never been more popular, and companies across the globe are finding creative ways to repurpose old clothing and textiles. Below, we walk you through how to buy less, shop smarter, and get more use out of the clothes you already own in order to create a more sustainable travel wardrobe.
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Certain fashion brands have been making strides toward creating a more earth-friendly industry, starting with a shift toward sustainably-produced or recycled fabrics like silk, wool, organic cotton, and hemp—all of which are biodegradable. Brands have begun to innovate, too, creating new plant-based fabrics like lyocell and tencel to use in place of polyester and nylon.