Making good choices with what you wear can also make a difference

Making good choices with what you wear can also make a difference

February 8, 2019

 It’s something I have never thought about.  Clothing and where it comes from has never crossed my mind.  If I needed something, I went out and bought it, looking for the best deal I could find.

Then a movie made me think.  The movie is “The True Cost”. 

This is a serious, very dramatic movie about how the fashion industry can cause unbelievable harm in some of the poorest countries in the world. The cost is incredibly high. An industry that creates billions of dollars in profit does so on the backs severely underpaid workers, in unsustainable conditions. 

This isn’t to say you should never buy clothes. It is simply an example of something we can change, by changing our buying habits. 

So, what can you do as a consumer? This is a photo that was shared during a presentation at local restaurant, Fig + Farro in south Minneapolis where they’ve hosted a series focused on climate and social impact. 

 In their “Buyerarchy of Needs”, this is how to create an impact with clothing, which we’ll use as a list of sorts:
  1. Use What You Have

Do you really “need” something? What do you have in your closet that you've stopped wearing? After addressing that, then move on to the next step.

  1. Borrow

OK, this might be something you used to do with your sister or best friends. My wife borrows clothes from a friend quite often. Special event? Need a special dress? Why not check with your friends before purchasing something you’ll only wear twice.

  1. Swap

Same principal as above, but maybe you just need a little change in your wardrobe.  Maybe a swap makes sense?

  1. Thrift

This one seems to scare people. “I don’t want to wear something a complete stranger wore!” Is it really a big deal? The clothes are professionally cleaned. You can now afford something that perhaps brand-new is too expensive. I’ll give you an example. This past Saturday, I was at Second Debut in St. Louis Park with my wife who wanted to get a new shirt/sweater. I was just poking around the men’s section and came across a like-new wool and cashmere navy overcoat that was originally purchased from Hubert W. White in downtown Minneapolis. What’s the retail price? Minimum $300-$400. Cost me $45. I like my version better. In a month, I’ll forget it ever belonged to someone else once upon a time.

  1. Make

Grandma used to do it. You took Home Ec classes.  Maybe you have a skill you didn’t even know you had. Try making something. Could be cool!

  1. Buy

Yes, you can still buy clothes.

But, we’re going to ask you to think through that too.

When you buy new, try looking for a more sustainable brand. Perhaps you can save some money with one of the above ideas to splurge on something that is more ethically produced.  There are many online sources but here are a few ideas to get you started.


Their store in the 50th and France neighborhood on the Minneapolis/Edina border produces yoga clothes and athletic wear, along with some more casual clothing. Their mission strives to “minimize the impact on the environment and what it means for future generations.” Their clothes can be recycled material, organic, Fair Trade or even made of hemp (hemp happens to be extremely sustainable).  Men and women’s clothing. 


All Everlane clothing is produced in ethical factories around the world. And they are very transparent about how their clothes are made, even sharing the cost of making the clothing. They consider their clothing to be investments, made to last for years. Men and women’s clothing.

People Tree

This one is spendy, but they are really pioneers in Fair Trade. They’re based out of the UK and create women’s clothing using eco-friendly and organic fabrics. Their clothing is known for lasting many years too, so it’s worth the investment. Women’s clothing only.

Alternative Apparel

Working with factories globally that ensure safe and fair working conditions, Alternative Apparel produces clothing that is known to be versatile and comfortable. From t-shirts to denim and leggings, this is a good solution for getting the basics. Men and women’s clothing available.