The fashion industry has one of the most massive carbon footprints on our planet; however, slowly but steadily, fashion brands are becoming more eco-conscious. As fashion goes green, you too can do your fair share and contribute to a sustainable clothing industry by becoming a more conscious consumer and making eco-friendly fashion choices.
The whole process of shopping sustainably might seem daunting at first, but we can promise that it is not that difficult. A million questions must be probing your mind right now: Will I be able to wear my favorite brands? Will I be able to follow the fashion trends? How much will I be spending?
Worry not, for we have created the most easy-peasy guide that will answer all your questions. Below we have rounded up six eco-friendly fashion choices you can make this year to create a sustainable wardrobe.
1. Research and Find Ethical Sources
One of the trickiest parts of getting a sustainable wardrobe is knowing where to shop. Fortunately for us, there are various eco-friendly options available as more and more brands are beginning to operate in sustainable manners to lower their impact on the planet. When choosing a fashion brand, make sure that it aligns with your values and that its operations are based on fair and ethical standards. Is the brand practicing fair trade and payment?
Does the brand ensure good working conditions for its employees? Where does the brand source its materials? What is the brand’s stance on gender equity and non-discrimination? Ask these questions when choosing a brand. Transparency is the key to sustainability, so if it is difficult to find out about a brand’s operations and stance, chances are they might not be very eco-conscious. You can also find eco-conscious brands through Eco-Age – a company that certifies brands for their sustainability.
2. Use the 30 Wear Test
The next time you are scrolling through an online shop and have your eyes set on a clothing item, ask yourself whether or not you will wear that item at least thirty times before you place it in your shopping cart. If the answer is affirmative, press on that Buy option, but if it is a piece you know you will only wear on one or two occasions, drop it. This #30wears campaign was started by Livia Firth, the founder of Eco-Age, to encourage people to work towards a greener future by choosing longevity and durability over trends.
Follow this rule to break the spell of fast fashion and invest your money in multipurpose pieces that you can style and wear in different ways instead of buying statement pieces that can only be worn a few times. Pick timeless items that always remain in fashion – such as blue jeans, white collar shirts, monotone evening dresses, and classic trench coats – over clothes that might fall out of style in a season or two.
Challenge yourself to mix and match and put together new and different outfits using clothing items already available in your wardrobe. Studies reveal that we can reduce the fashion industry’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emission by a whopping 44% if we double the average number of times we wear clothing items.
3. Quality Over Quantity
Sustainable clothing items made of top-quality fabric are usually pricier than high-street items that leave a big carbon footprint. Buying those cheaper high-street items might seem like the more sensible choice, but this is where we must change our mindset. Even if it costs more, always opt for sustainable items made of hard-wearing fabric as they will be longer-lasting, and you will be able to wear them more often, helping you save money in the long run.
Moreover, you will be buying fewer items per season which will reduce your carbon footprint dramatically. All in all, planning before going shopping and choosing quality over quantity will help you reduce both your shopping bill and your carbon footprint, keeping both your bank account and the environment green.
4. Take Care of Your Clothes to Make Them Last Longer
To increase the longevity of your clothes and make them last longer, you have to take good care of them. Therefore, treat every single item hanging in your wardrobe with great care, not just the ones that had more digits on their price tag.
If you properly look after your clothes, you will not have to worry about replacing them for a long time. Most people wear out their clothes by washing them too much or washing them the wrong way. It is necessary to wash different items differently, depending on the fabric they are made of, such as denim should always be washed inside out while cashmere should only be hand washed – follow the instructions on the care label of every item.
However, no matter what material, washing clothes at delicate programs – such as lower temperatures and shorter spinning periods – makes them stay at their best for longer. Excessive washing can also wear out clothes. Moreover, less intense washing conserves energy usage, which ultimately reduces GHG emissions, making your washing kinder to the environment.
5. Donate Clothes You No Longer Wear
Once we purchase a piece of clothing, we become responsible for the impact it leaves on the environment. Therefore when you decide to clear out your wardrobe, you must do it responsibly. One way to get rid of unwanted clothes without leaving a negative impact on the environment is to donate them. Clothes hold value even after they go out of style or once you get tired of them, so instead of throwing them away in the bin and adding to the pile of trash in landfills, you can give them away to those who cannot afford to make such purchases themselves. Donating your clothes to other people helps them become more sustainable as well, as they will use your clothes instead of buying new ones.
If you know someone needy, you can directly give them your clothes, or you can reach out to different organizations that match donations to people who need them. However, before giving away your clothes, make sure that they are all in good condition and thoroughly clean every item.
If you tend to accumulate clothes in your wardrobe even when you do not need them and have trouble clearing out your closet, follow this simple policy: every time you buy something new, you have to donate something old.
6. Opt for Eco-friendly Fabrics
To make eco-friendly fashion choices when buying clothes, you have to keep in mind the resources used during the fabrication of any item and the impact of those resources on our environment. Any clothing item made from a fabric that involves animal cruelty in its production, like fur and leather, is a big no-no. Instead, invest in alternative fabric materials available in the market that will allow you to satisfy your fashion needs without putting any animal’s life at risk.
Piñatex is one fine example of a plant-based leather alternative made from fibers extracted from pineapple leaves. Since the popularity of such alternative fabrics is surging, you can easily find an option that serves all your particular needs, from durability to aesthetics.
You need to assess the impact of the fabric used on not only the animals but on natural resources, as well. For instance, fur farming consumes gigantic amounts of energy and creates immense chemical pollution; cotton requires large amounts of water to grow and needs toxic pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, which wash away into water bodies and cause water pollution. So, when buying clothes, look for fabric alternatives that deplete less natural resources and create comparatively less pollution during its fabrication.
Organic cotton is one such eco-friendly alternative: it is grown without any fertilizer or pesticide and requires less water. Another sustainable fabric that has been adopted by many renowned brands is Econyl: it is made from regenerated nylon and can be recycled an infinite number of times.
Make these simple eco-friendly fashion choices to play your part in propelling the fashion industry towards a more sustainable route. Transform your wardrobe into an eco-friendly one and cut down the negative impact fast fashion has on both your pocket and the planet. Didn’t anyone tell you? Being eco-conscious is the new trend!