1. Exchange dry cleaning for wet cleaning. The majority of dry cleaners use solvents suspected of causing cancer in humans. When you can’t machine or handwash, opt for wet cleaning, a method that can be used to clean most “dry clean only” fabrics. To find a cleaner that offers the service near you, start with NoDryClean‘s list of wet cleaners in and around San Francisco.
2. Embrace tailor therapy. We all know how satisfying retail therapy can be. But what about tailor therapy? I’ve been hitting up the tailor more and more in recent months to tweak items of clothing, perfect fit and revamp worn out features like pockets, linings and hems. Fixing and updating something you already own can not only be seriously satisfying (finally, my favorite velvet blue vintage gem of a jacket with the funked up lining is hitting the streets again), but it also boosts your wardrobe without adding volume. And, at the end of the day, less consumption generally translates into less waste.
3. Befriend a shoe repair shop. I’m a believer in expensive shoes. If there’s one thing wardrobe item I would tell someone to drop a mint on, it’s a stomach-churningly high-end pair of heels. They just end up feeling better and lasting longer than cheaper alternatives. That said, heels have a way of getting beaten and battered over time, even if you’re not tromping around in them on a regular basis. One false move near a downtown sidewalk grate, folks, and, well, I’ve watched fine leather peel away from a dainty heel like Swiss cheese on a hot day. Point being, if you invest in a grand pair of shoes, it’s a crime to toss them when they’ve got a few knicks or worn down heels. Just take them to a shoe repair spot and, bam, a few days later, you can truly consider yourself well-heeled. Another perk of a good shoe repair joint? They’ll often be masters as fixing belts, straps, zippers and luggage.
4. Adopt earth-friendly detergents and cleaners. Deign to pay attention to what’s going down your drain when you wash your laundry. If possible, I’d recommend trying sample sizes or borrowing a small amount from a friend or family member before you buy a whole container. That way, you’ll know whether the detergent is compatible with your skin. I’ve tried two different non-toxic detergents in the past that gave my picky skin a really sweet rash. I’m still trying to find ways to use the detergent (these days, it’s the designated “dog bed and dishtowel” detergent).
5. Buy refashioned, recycled and repurposed wearables. Keep an eye out for clothing and accessories that employ creative reuse strategies. Luckily for folks in San Francisco, there are myriad spots to suss out revamped fashions made from unique or unexpected materials. A few places to keep in mind are Trunk (formerly Pandora’s Trunk), Venus Superstar (at Backspace), R.A.G., Secession Art & Design, Miranda Caroligne, Still Life and the Museum of Craft and Folk Art‘s Museum Store.
6. Cultivate a collection, not just a closet full of clothes. Start thinking of your wardrobe as a collection of special pieces and shop accordingly. I’m of the mind that less consumption is better for the earth – and clearly, I have a serious love for consumption. If I can keep the junk purchases to a minimum, anyone can.
7. Lap up the locally-made. I really can’t condense my love for buying local into a succinct statement – after all, I started this blog largely because of it. But suffice to say, buying locally-made goods not only promotes a stronger city and healthier neighborhoods by supporting the local businesses and the entrepreneurs at their core, but it also often means less shipping, which, in turn, means less fuel is used in the getting of your goods.
8. Revisit the past. Whether you’re a hardcore retro diva or a just a toe-dipper in the second-hand shopscape, opting for pieces with a past means reusing instead of consuming anew. Oftentimes, going vintage is the easiest way to infuse your wardrobe with the unique and one-of-a-kind.
9. Don’t lose it, reuse it. Embrace creative reuse whenever possible. At my house, old t-shirts that aren’t good enough to give away or donate become my dog’s favorite chew and tug toys. I just get out the scissors, cut them up a little and tie them into big knotted balls with treats stuffed inside. The dog goes nuts, and it’s one less piece of fabric in the trash (though obviously some of it does end up there eventually). Have fun coming up with your own ways to reuse items in everyday life.
10. Get engaged. As with most things in life, a little thought and effort goes a long way, in this case, towards helping the earth. What are some easy ways to get engaged? Go out of your way to shop at places that offer a wide range of products from earth-friendly labels. (For apparel, check out San Francisco boutiques like Ladita and Eco Citizen). Read labels before you buy. Garments made from bamboo, soy products and organic cotton are increasingly available in mainstream stores. Think before you spend, buy more items that will last several seasons (if not many years) and reuse what you can, whenever you can.