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Want to save the planet? Make your clothes more eco-friendly

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Mary McCoy is a writer and social worker for disenfranchised women and children. She's a single mom, lover of Texas barbecue, and a die-hard fan of yoga

Before you buy that organic shirt, educate yourself on green fashion

If you think that being eco-friendly is only about food and cleaning products, think again. Your clothing choices can make a huge impact on the environment. Here's how to make your carbon footprint a little more green.

Buy eco-friendly clothes and accessories

If you're in the mood for something new, make sure to buy items that are eco-friendly. But don't be fooled by marketing terms like "organic" or "sustainable," since these terms aren't regulated and often mean nothing besides profit. Instead, purchase items from brands that are truly committed to recycling and the environment. We love items by Titania Inglis, who creates her clothing in a New York factory with sustainable fabrics, and Carrie Parry, who uses only environmentally responsible materials.

There are many others, of course, but you need to do your homework on what the company means when it says its eco-friendly so you can make sure you're really doing the world some good with your fashion cents.

Embrace social justice causes

Know your keywords. Yes, you can find "green" clothing, but any clothing or accessory company that touts "social justice" is likely on the right track, too. These companies, like Akola Project and Bajalia Trading Company, use fair-trade employment standards and are usually committed to a healthy environment — by way of artisanal manufacturing and natural fibers — as well.

Swap among your friends

Have you ever stopped to wonder why you and your three best friends all own a nearly identical little black dress? It's because our culture has taught us that sharing is impossible. But guys, it's not. Maybe you need your own key pieces, but you can certainly swap and share accessories, purses and specialty items to avoid cluttering your closet — and eventually, our landfills.

Raid a thrift store

Before you reject the idea of shopping at a thrift store, stop for a second. Have you ever really looked at the huge number of fashionable items available at a thrift store? They're everywhere, and they're completely affordable. Not only that, every item you find in a thrift store like Savers is recycled, which means it's automatically eco-friendly.

Upcycle your well-used items

Give your baggy, boring or worn clothing a much-needed update with clever upcycling. With just a few craft supplies and creativity, you can turn your old T-shirts, jeans and even sandals into fashionable pieces — all while avoiding the landfill and another round of cheapo clothing purchases.

Remember: Demand fuels supply. Any time you demand new clothing rather than recycled items, you're fueling the supply of cheaply made fashion items that are bad for our environment. In other words, the most eco-friendly option is always buying recycled clothing from thrift stores or upcycling what you already own.

This post was sponsored by Savers.

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