10 Eco-Friendly Fashion Options That Won't Pollute the Planet

iStock.com/lolostock
iStock.com/lolostock

Fashion is one of Earth’s most resource-intensive, environment-polluting industries. Manufacturing clothing requires vast quantities of water, international transport, and labor—and after all that, clothes regularly get thrown away after just a few months or years. (In part because recycling fabric into new textiles is very difficult.)

But that doesn’t mean that you need to become a nudist in order to save the Earth. There are plenty of clothing companies that take their environmental impact very seriously, using recycled and organic materials and trying to minimize the carbon footprint of their supply chain and manufacturing process. Take a look at some of the clothing that allows you to feel good about looking good.

1. ThredUP Recycled Denim Jacket

When it comes to environmental pollution, denim is one of the fashion industry's worst offenders. The distressed look and pre-washed feel of most jeans come at a high cost: Dyeing and distressing a pair of jeans requires hundreds of gallons of water and well as a plethora of chemicals that later end up in waterways. In Asia, where the bulk of the world's textile manufacturing is located, an estimated 70 percent of rivers and lakes have been contaminated by wastewater from the fashion industry. For World Environment Day 2019, the secondhand retailer thredUP has launched a new line of recycled denim jackets that you don't have to feel guilty wearing. It's part of the company's Choose Used partnership with Olive Wilde and Conscious Commerce, which features designs screen printed on secondhand shirts and other apparel. The proceeds go to thredUP's Circular Fashion Fund, which supports sustainable fashion.

Buy it from thredUP.

2. Ralph Lauren Earth Polo

While it’s easier to find eco-friendly clothing at outdoor and sporting retailers, some mainstream fashion companies are getting in on the trend, too. Ralph Lauren just launched its first polo shirt made of recycled material—the Earth Polo. Available for both men and women in four different colors, the shirts are made with fabric derived from plastic bottles. Though they look nearly identical to the company’s regular styles, each Earth Polo is made from approximately 12 recycled plastic bottles. And to reduce water pollution, the colored fabrics are dyed with a process that requires no water.

Buy it from Ralph Lauren for men and women for $90.

3. Madewell Second Wave Swimwear

Madewell launched its first sustainable swimwear line in February 2019, meaning that you can feel a little less guilty about ocean trash while frolicking at the beach. Made from recycled plastic bottles, Second Wave swimsuits are available in two-piece or one-piece designs in a variety of colors and patterns. According to the company, the one-piece suits incorporate material from eight used plastic bottles, while its separates are each made from two plastic bottles. (In other words, if you want to save the environment, cover up!) We like the simplicity of this $80 red one-piece suit, but there are plenty of options to choose from starting at $45 per piece. Sizes run from XX small to 3X.

Buy it at Madewell for $45 and up.

4. PrAna Shirts

The California-based clothing company prAna is all about sustainability, from its materials to its manufacturing to the composting program at its headquarters. It makes pieces with organic and recycled materials and participates in fair trade and bluesign certification. You can filter items in its online store based on whether it’s made with recycled content, and there’s a lot to choose from, whether you’re looking for something to wear to the office, the beach, or yoga class. The Iselle t-shirt line for women is made with 92 percent recycled polyester and 8 percent hemp (which requires fewer pesticides and less water to produce than cotton), and comes in short-sleeve (left), long-sleeve, and tank designs. For men, the Transverse line of shirts is made with 95 percent recycled polyester and 5 percent hemp. There are also dressier options—the Merger button-down shirts (right) are made with 44 percent recycled polyester, 53 percent hemp, and 3 percent spandex.

Buy it from prAna.

5. Birkenstock Shoes and Skincare

Birkenstock shoes are made from renewable resources like cork and jute, and the company is committed to minimizing its environmental footprint, using solvent-free adhesives and majority-recycled packaging. In addition to its shoes and sandals, the company recently launched a natural, cruelty-free skincare line that it sells in recycled tubes and bottles.

Buy it from Birkenstock, Backcountry.com, or Amazon.

6. Patagonia Stretch Rainshadow Jacket

A navy blue Patagonia jacket

Patagonia, Backcountry.com

Patagonia’s Rainshadow jackets are designed to keep you dry but cool during summer showers or while you’re working hard. The latest version of the design—which is fully waterproof but still breathable—is made with ECONYL, a recycled nylon made from discarded materials like abandoned fishing nets. ECONYL’s manufacturer estimates that the material reduces the climate change-related impact of nylon by up to 80 percent compared to new construction made from oil.

Buy it from Backcountry.com for men and women for $200.

7. Mammut Convey Recycled Down Jacket

Down-filled jackets are a reliable way to stay toasty during the cold months, but you may worry about the impact your outdoor adventures have on the ducks and geese that serve as the source for your jacket’s filling. Many outdoor retailers are switching to recycled down, which repurposes down from used bedding, cushions, and other items that would otherwise end up in the landfill. Mammut’s Convey is one of the best puffy jackets for cold weather, according to Popular Mechanics, and its 700 fill down comes from recycled sources.

Buy it from Mammut for men and women for $200.

8. Decathlon Fleece

Decathlon, a French mega-retailer that’s essentially the IKEA of sporting goods, makes a number of jackets, shirts, and pants using recycled polyester and other eco-friendly materials. (It’s also dedicated to reducing any unnecessary packaging.) The company just launched its first U.S. store in the Bay Area, and is rolling out its online store nationwide. If you’re looking for gear made with recycled materials, head to the fleece department—its lightweight Forclaz 50 fleece jackets are made with 100 percent recycled polyester. The company also manufactures plenty of warm-weather gear with recycled materials, too, like its TREK 500 t-shirts (available for men and women) and flip-flops, all made with a majority, if not 100 percent, recycled materials. Oh, and did we mention that everything is dirt cheap?

Buy Forclaz 50 fleece jackets from Decathlon for both men and women for $5.

9. Pacsafe ECONYL Backpack

Recycled fabric isn’t just for clothing. A number of retailers also use sustainable textiles to make accessories. Pacsafe, which makes secure bags designed to keep your stuff from getting snatched while you’re traveling, makes a line of anti-theft bags designed with ECONYL regenerated nylon. The carry-on backpack has all the same security features as the company’s other products—cut-resistant straps and fabric, locking clips and zippers, and more—but it’s made with recycled materials. And all the profits from the line go to the Turtle Fund, the company’s conservation effort aimed at helping endangered sea turtles.

Buy it from Pacsafe for $130.

10. Eagle Creek Bags

Eagle Creek's bags are made with bluesign-approved fabrics, and the company recently started using recycled polyvinyl butyral (PVB), a hard-to-reuse coating that makes windshields and other glass shatterproof, to make its bags waterproof and extra durable. (While windshields can be recycled, that PVB coating has to be removed, and there have been few applications for recycled PVB until now. Eagle Creek's RPVB comes from landfills in Asia.) We particularly like Eagle Creek's hardy but stylish Migrate backpack duffels, which are spacious, waterproof, and fold flat when empty, as well as the company's Cargo Hauler bags. There are also backpacks featuring RPVB that will keep your laptop extra safe from the rain.

Buy it from Eagle Creek.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

This All-In-One Tent Can Transform Into a Sleeping Bag, Air Mattress, Hammock, and More

Rawpixel/iStock via Getty Images
Rawpixel/iStock via Getty Images

For an activity that's supposed to get you back to basics, there’s a surprising amount of gear involved in camping. There's the tent, sleeping bag, air mattress, pillows, and plenty of other essentials. All this equipment gets expensive, and just thinking about lugging pounds of gear on your back into the woods might squash your desire to camp before you even hit the trail. But the Crua Modus, a 6-in-1 camping system, takes all of those essentials and crams them into one convenient pack.

Made by Crua Outdoors, the Modus already raised over $177,000 on Kickstarter in under two hours, crushing its original $20,000 goal. But you can still back this product until January 9, 2020. Pledges start at $199, and “early bird” backers will receive the Crua Modus for $329—40 percent off the regular retail value.

The Modus is broken down into parts:

  • The Footprint: This waterproof tarp offers your tent extra protection against damp ground. And it also functions as a place to sit, so you stay clean and dry.
  • The Base: This self-inflating air mattress and pillow is insulated with a waterproof base. It also comes with a zip-on quilt, which, according to the company, is beneficial, because “when you sleep on a traditional sleeping bag, you are crushing the very fibers that are supposed to be insulating you, making them useless.”
  • The Inflatable Poles and Bug Mesh: The bug mesh attaches to the air mattress and is supported by two inflatable poles that blow up quickly. If it’s a nice summer night, you don’t even need to use the cover, allowing you to look out at the night sky.
  • The Flysheet: This waterproof flysheet has you covered in case your camping trip is hampered by the elements. But it does more than keep you dry during surprise rainstorms; the sheet is also reflective, so you won't overheat on particularly sunny days. And if it’s too cold, reverse the sheet and it will help keep heat inside.
  • The Hammock: Want to take a nap outside? No problem. The flysheet also functions as a hammock. Simply remove it and use the adjustable straps to hang it between two trees.
  • The Picnic Blanket: By night, the quilt keeps you warm, but by day this multi-use blanket can be used for having a picnic or just sitting on the ground. The opposite side is waterproof, so it won’t get wet.

When you’re ready to head home, this tent folds up into a 29.5-inch by 8.5-inch bag that weighs 8.5 pounds. So not only does this make for a light load, but it won’t take up too much space at home.

Now that you’ve got some room your pack, check out these other essentials for tackling the great outdoors. And if you still need a little extra convincing to go camping, check out these scientific benefits of going outside.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

11 Gifts for the Curious Kids in Your Life

The Play Gym by Lovevery
The Play Gym by Lovevery

No matter their age, you want to find gifts that will keep the kids in your life entertained, stimulated, and give them a sense of accomplishment—even during playtime. Luckily, these 11 gifts will do all of that, and will encourage their curiosity to grow.

1. The Play Gym by Lovevery; $140

Baby playset
Lovevery / Amazon

Specially designed by experts to stimulate infants for their first year, this play mat grows with your favorite baby. It has five developmental zones and multiple activities—like teethers, mirrors, and colorful flash cards. And, when baby becomes a toddler, the mat converts into a tent fort for further imaginative play.

Find It: Amazon

2. Real Insect Superpowers Comic Book; $18

Follow the adventures of the Supersonic Assassin, the Malevolent Mimic, and other insect superheroes as they smash, zap, hypnotize, and sting in this 88-page book that's part comic, part nature encyclopedia.

Find It: Uncommon Goods

3. Droid Inventor Kit; $100

This is definitely the droid you’re looking for. Recommended for kids in grades eight years and up, this customizable robot comes with an app that defines more than 22 missions as well as easy block-based coding activities. And for any Star Wars fans, the Droid makes 20 different sounds, just like from the movies

Find It: Amazon

4. Solar System Chalk; $40

Solar system chalk
Uncommon Goods

This nine-piece chalk set features all the planets in the solar system, along with Pluto. Each piece has multiple colors, which represent the planets' cores, layers, and crusts. And for each set sold, $2 will be donated to The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to support autism research.

Find It: Uncommon Goods

5. Jr. NASA Rocket Scientist Lab Coat; $20

Jr. NASA coat
Aeromax / Amazon

Get kids excited about science early with this lab coat, which comes in sizes for boys and girls. Alongside three pockets, the jacket also has the NASA logo and the words “Rocket Scientist.” When your astronaut-in-training is done playing, the coat can be tossed in the washing machine.

Find It: Amazon

6. 3Doodler 3D Pen Set; $50

This wireless pen allows kids to freestyle draw in the air—the eco-plastic filament cools in place quickly, giving kids plenty of practice with spatial reasoning without the costs of a full 3D printer.

Find It: Amazon

7. Giant Coloring Poster; $19

Giant coloring poster
O'Kroshka / Amazon

If your kid is going to color on the wall, you may as well give them a designated place to do so. Children can use pencils, markers, and paints on this 33''x 45'' poster that depicts all types of animals in a zoo. This gift will not only encourage creative expression, but it can also help kids work on their motor skills.

Find It: Amazon

8. Root-Vue Farm; $39

A little girl poses behind the Root Vue farm
Young Explorers

Whether they join FFA or not, kids can get a head start on understanding horticulture with this indoor garden system. Plant the included seeds—for carrots, radishes, and onions—and watch them obsess over the underground view of their harvest.

Find It: Amazon

9. Geosafari Jr. Kidnoculars; $9

Kid-proof and specially designed for tiny hands and faces, these binoculars can help preschoolers get to know the world around them. Play a game like “I Spy” and have them find squirrels in trees, clouds in the sky, or all those Cheerios they spilled behind their bed.

Find It: Amazon

10. Dimpl Baby and Toddler Learning Toy; $13

This brightly colored sensory toy holds a young one's attention with 100% food-grade silicone bubbles they can press and poke—perfect for keeping kids occupied in a stroller or car.

Find It: Target

11. Otamatone; $30

The face on this highly kawaii ribbon synthesizer is made of rubber, and by manipulating it with one hand you can make cool sounds (the other hand controls the pitch along the ribbon controller). With a bit of practice, you can even play real music—check out this entertaining cover of "Take On Me."

Find It: Amazon

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we’re only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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