How to Save Money and Still Dress Green

I'm now officially concerned that America's green movement may have run its course. My reason for sounding the alarm: A story on a morning talk show last week about the rush by high-end fashion designers to bring five-figure "green gowns" and other pricey "eco-apparel" to fashion runways and your nearest Saks Fifth Avenue.

You don't have to spend like a fat cat to dress well.

If there was ever a movement NOT in need of its own criminally overpriced designer fashion line, it's the green movement. You know, a movement that's about, well, "conserving" resources.

Call me jaded (because I am), but my real fear is that it signals the beginning of the end of the green movement, not because fashion designers are jumping on the hybrid bandwagon, but because many Americans -- too many -- will probably rush out to actually buy this Emperor's new green-label, high fashion attire. What better way to show your solidarity with Mother Earth ... and flaunt your fortunes in the process?

Forget about the good that you could accomplish by donating that same money to one of the thousands of nonprofit organizations working to protect the environment. And even forget about the size of the carbon footprint you're probably creating to generate that big bankroll in the first place.

The fact is that less than 2% of all clothing thrown away every year in the U.S. is trashed because it's truly "worn out" -- as in threadbare, falling apart, full of holes. The other 98%, for the most part, is dumped just because we want something new or we've outgrown our duds, and we're too lazy to pass them along to someone else who can use them.

Once again, the most eco-friendly thing you can do when it comes to your clothes closet is to be a cheapskate and simply consume less. Make your clothes last longer -- and save energy and $ -- by washing them less frequently and, ideally, in a front-loading washer (one without a clothes torturing agitator), using only cold water. Line dry your clothes whenever possible to extend the life of the fabric and reduce both your electrical usage and your monthly bill.

Most importantly, wear your clothes out. Help make threadbare the new cool fashion statement, the true designer apparel of the green movement. And when you're ready for something new, buy used. Rummage sales and thrift stores are treasure trousseaus of bargain-priced clothing, much of it high quality and barely used, and all of it representing energy and other resources that have already been extracted from Mother Nature's womb.

So don't be suckered in by the Emperor's pricey new green wardrobe -- the dude may not be naked this time around, but his vanity and stupidity are definitely in Full Monty mode.

This post from the Green Cheapskate by Jeff Yeager is republished with the permission of The Daily Green.  Check out more great content from The Daily Green:

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Guest's picture

Still, it lacks the irony of the expensive "peasant blouse."

Guest's picture

I agree and it seems to extend well beyond clothing. I watched a TV segment this weekend which was showcasing "green" homes. The problem was that the "green" homes were monsters - 3000+ square feet. And one even had soapstone counter tops which were imported from Portugal. Surely, there was a way to get a sustainable countertop without the fossil fuel waste to ship stone from Portugal. It appears that we Americans have learned nothing!