UNH Sustainability Considerations for Winter Apparel

UNH Sustainability Considerations for Winter Apparel

Is the NH Cold Getting to You?

campus winterThe storm that arrived over Thanksgiving Break caused many to break out the shovels to clear driveways, and the recent icy rain, bringing with it freezing temperatures and brisk wind, winter has definitely announced its arrival. Whether you have lived in New England your entire life or are new to these frigid temperatures, proper winter attire is essential. Do you find yourself scurrying to purchase a new winter jacket to stay warm this season? Before you head to the store, think about alternatives to purchasing new things.

Often when we hear the term buying “green,” we tend to think of Fair Trade food, organic beauty products, and the like. But how often do you find yourself seeking out clothing that is environmentally friendly? You don’t have to drastically convert your wardrobe in order to make a positive difference towards sustainability. Here is a brief overview of some things to consider as you ponder your winter clothing collection.

Do You Really Need a New Winter Coat?

First, do you need something new, or do you want something new? Is your existing gear in good shape? You loved it when you bought it! Of course, with continued use our products are going to show signs of wear. However, try to think of these marks as a story instead of a call to action for a new item. Each mark contains a memory. For example, my white winter jacket has a small yellow paint stain on the side. It reminds me of fun times keeping my good friend company during long nights in her art studio. It’s barely noticeable and doesn’t affect the ability of the coat to keep me warm, so I am definitely keeping it!

Second, try getting any ripped or damaged clothing repaired instead of purchasing something new. Many winter products are constructed to last in harsh conditions for several years, so it is in your best interest to have them repaired rather than buying more annually. Often, the cost of the repair is significantly less than the price of a new product altogether. Your winter jacket or boots can also gain character! In addition, maybe you can acquire new skills, such as sewing, by learning how to fix your gear yourself!

What Companies are Really Environmentally Friendly?

Hamilton SmithIf you do decide that you need to buy a new product, try doing some research on the wide variety of companies that sell winter products. This will help you determine which companies are environmentally friendly and socially responsible. It can also help you find out about the sourcing of the materials they use in production. One great website for this is www.climatecounts.org. Here, you can find a scorecard for each company based on: climate footprint, impact on global warming, and public disclosure of climate actions. Based on their numerical score out of 100, each company is described as “stuck,” “starting,” “striding” or “soaring.” By supporting companies with a high score, you show businesses that you care about these issues.

If you want more information on a particular company, try the company website. Many have sections on corporate responsibility with details about their environmental and social initiatives. Is animal welfare an important cause to you? Find out which companies use traceable or responsibly sourced down for their winter coats. Is renewable energy a cause you care about? Find out which companies are switching to renewable sources of energy.

Consider reducing your consumption by getting another year of wear out of your gear. A new jacket isn’t necessarily a better one! When considering a new purchase, realize that you have the ability to make powerful choices. Being an informed consumer is a great way to make a positive difference for sustainability.


Stay warm, Wildcats!