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When trying to live a cruelty-free lifestyle, often times, we are bombarded by the things we should not do and should not buy. The story is the same when it comes to clothing: no silk, no fur, no leather, no suede, no wool and so on. In short, anything that contributes to the exploitation of animals is off limits. In addition to this, we might also consider how the manufacturing of certain materials with high inputs of chemicals and dyes creates a cruelty in and of itself against the planet and those who inhabit it. With all this in mind, lists of what not to buy seem helpful, but what about what clothing materials you can buy? I mean, it’s pretty difficult to go shopping with only a list of things you can’t have. This guide to cruelty-free clothing fixes that for you.
1. Search for Vegan Brands
One of the easiest ways to tell if a material is cruelty-free is by checking the brand and company it comes from: is it vegan? Getting to know your favorite vegan brands will make shopping quicker and way more fun. Keep in mind that many stores offer vegan versions of clothing, but may not advertise them that way. Don’t be afraid to ask for some assistance. After a short while, you won’t need to be checking tags or asking sales representatives for information on the materials, you’ll know by heart what you can and like to buy. A tip until then: carry this guide and a version of cruelty-free brands and companies with you.
2. Choose Bamboo
A personal favorite, bamboo material is soft, forgiving, and cozy all at once. So on top of feeling great for not contributing to cruelty, you look great too. Moreover, according to BambooCentral.org, bamboo production is a powerhouse for minimizing carbon dioxide emissions into the air and producing up to thirty-five percent more oxygen than trees. Feel great, look great, and help save the planet. Bamboo materials are a win-win, especially considering how their production leads to economic growth and Support to poorer rural areas in the Asia-Pacific region (BambooCentral.org). Keeping these factors in mind helps to ensure your clothes really are as cruelty-free as possible.
3. Try On Hemp
Choosing plant fibers over chemically-laden synthetics ensures you are cruelty-free to animals and the environment when purchasing new clothes. According to Rawganique.com, hemp is resistant to pests because it grows so fast, making it a sustainable source that does not require large inputs of pesticides to grow. In fact, its manufacturing process in general is less intensive than other materials. Moreover, hemp growth lowers risks of soil erosion (Rawganique.com). Feel good about this durable material.
4. Opt For Organic Cotton
Yes, the organic part really does matter here if you are going for a cruelty-free material. You see, cotton manufacturing takes a disproportionate toll on the environment and its inhabitants by leaching chemicals into water ways and using pounds of pesticides and fertilizers: 1/3 of a pound of synthetic fertilizers and chemicals are needed for one cotton T-shirt (BambooCentral.org). Non-organic cotton doesn’t make sense in your cruelty-free lifestyle, but you can make room for an organic alternative. Organic cotton is also suitable for persons with chemical sensitivities and allergies to dyes (BambooCentral.org).
This guide to cruelty-free clothing urges you to look beyond the basic definition of “cruelty” to understand how our choices affect not only animals, but the environment and our families who inhabit it too. That’s why synthetic materials like rayon and polyester are not listed; those materials are heavily processed and add copious amounts of chemicals, dyes, and other toxins that are detrimental to our personal health and the planet’s. In sum, it isn’t cruelty-free just because it doesn’t contain animal products.
Image source: Tomas Fano/Flickr