Fast fashion has a tangible impact on the environment, from unethical manufacturing practices to the carbon footprint of shipping. Many of us are trying to make an effort to buy more sustainable clothing. With these eleven simple changes, you can begin to make your clothing choices more ethical and your shopping more sustainable.
1. Plan for repeat wears when you buy. Fast fashion can contribute to a lot of clothing waste, as people purchase clothes and throw them out after only wearing a few times as trends change. Instead, try to buy more timeless pieces, you know you’ll reach for over and over. Before buying, ask yourself if you’ll wear it more than thirty times. If you will, purchase it, but make sure you re-wear it. Choose items that will mix well into your existing wardrobe, and pick versatile pieces that can be worn in several ways. Avoid statement pieces you can’t see yourself wearing more than a handful of times.
2. Do a little research. One of the better ways to shop more sustainably is to improve your brand knowledge. Look into the values and practices of your most bought brands, and find out about the way clothes are made. If you’re set up with proper information, you can make more informed choices about how and where you buy.
3. Buy vintage or second hand. New clothing can have quite a big carbon footprint, but you’re selecting something much more sustainable by buying pre-owned clothing. You’re also not putting money into a brand whose practices you might disagree with. Buy from a thrift shop and support a good cause at the same time.
4. Build your wardrobe around items you can wear through multiple seasons. Buying a whole winter wardrobe is a moot point if you live in a warm climate. Instead, focus on pieces that can be layered together to work for different times of the year and for different weather. You’ll get more wear out of each piece this way.
5. When you clear out clothes you no longer wear, don’t just throw them out and contribute to the landfill. Instead, donate them to a thrift or second-hand shop. You could also find ways to reuse the fabric elsewhere in your home, like using old t-shirts as cleaning cloths. You could host swap parties with some stylish friends, where you all bring items you no longer want and swap them for your friends’ things that you do think you’ll wear.
6. Look after your clothing, so it lasts longer. If you take good care of your clothes, you’ll shop less, which is always more sustainable.
7. Learn how to make simple repairs to your own clothes, like replacing buttons or repairing minor rips. Find a good tailor to make significant repairs or make alterations to fit you better. Repairs and alterations mean less waste and less need to purchase new clothes. A good tailor who can also adjust clothes you do buy is invaluable, as clothes will fit much better and be more flattering.
8. When you go shopping, choose high-quality pieces that will last for a longer time. Picking quality over quantity means that your clothes will look nice for much longer, making your wardrobe more ethical. Cheaper clothing tends to come from less ethical manufacturing processes, so avoiding fast, affordable fashion is the right choice if you want to shop in a more sustainable way.
9. Change the way you think about your clothes shopping. Many of us will happily drop a lot of money on a dress for a special occasion, but wouldn’t think of spending a similar amount on an item like a pair of jeans you’ll wear all the time. Instead, invest more money on the pieces in your wardrobe that you’ll wear the most often. You’ll get higher quality, better fitting, longer lasting pieces, which is a more sustainable way to shop.
10. Choose more eco-friendly materials. Some fabrics have a higher impact on the environment due to the chemicals used in their production. Natural fabrics like cotton, linen, hemp, bamboo, and wool are all more ethical, and kinder to the environment.
11. Turn on the washing machine less often. Most clothing doesn’t need to be washed after every wear. Washing your clothes less reduces your impact on the environment. You’ll use less power, less water and reduce the wear on your clothes. Wash your clothes in cold water to use less energy, and if you can, dry them on a clothesline instead of in the dryer.
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