As every choice we make matters, creating a sustainable wardrobe is a step that you can take to help reduce the negative impact the fashion industry has on our people and planet.
Here are a few ways in which you can curate a sustainable wardrobe without breaking the bank.
Organise your closet
When starting on your journey towards a more sustainable wardrobe, decluttering your closets and organizing your wardrobe is a must. Clear everything out and start sorting, Marie Kondo style.
Carefully analyse each item of clothing or accessories in terms of condition, fit, and separate them in three different piles: keep, resell, donate. Set aside the last two piles and go over the clothes you want to keep once again.
Check the labels for materials and keep the pieces that are made from natural fabrics like linen or organic cotton. After you finish with your clothing, do not forget to go through the same process with your accessories.
Change your shopping habits
One of the most important steps when trying to create a sustainable wardrobe is to change your shopping habits.
It is so common for you to give in to your impulsive shopping habits or indulge in some retail therapy for your dopamine hit. Whilst it makes you feel good temporarily, try to avoid it and ensure that you only purchase items that you need.
People, in general, tend to think that they shouldn’t be spending a lot of money on a daily item, like jeans for example. Instead, they spend more money on pieces which they rarely wear, like special occasion shoes or clothes. Instead, invest in quality over quantity and spend more money on items that you are going to wear and use every day.
Instead of purchasing a dress you might only wear once look at renting it or borrowing from a friend or family member.
When looking to buy something, try applying the “30-wear test” before you purchase anything, whether we are talking about clothes or accessories. Ask yourself, will I wear it a minimum of 30 times? Also, opt for natural materials as much as possible.
Do your research
Spend some time researching sustainable fashion brands and connect with them on social platforms. Check out their posts, deep dive into their website, and if you still have doubts, send them a message and ask for clarifications. Try to gather as much information about each brand as possible before you choose to shop with them.
Look for things like what fabrics they use, where the clothes are made, are they using sustainable packaging, carbon offsetting initiatives, ethical and cruelty free practices, international certification and even a list of their suppliers. These are all important points you should take into consideration when conducting your research. The point of this is to determine which brands are really sustainable.
Take care of your existing wardrobe
Once you invest in good quality items you need to take care of them. Just like you, your needs to be well cared for in order to make sure they last. This means checking the tags for care instructions before you start the washing machine.
Some of the pieces you own may be dry clean only – try not to purchase these types of clothes. If you put them in the washing machine you will end up ruining them. Besides being a waste of money, that piece of clothing is no longer usable, so it will end up in landfill.
When washing your clothes can wash your clothes opt for natural detergents and avoid chemical detergents. Besides polluting the water (which ends up polluting the soil and, ultimately, the food we eat), these detergents are harsh and might ruin delicate clothes. Try and hang dry your laundry in favor of the machine dryer, to make your clothes last longer.
If your clothes have a stain try and clean it as soon as possible to avoid it from staining permanently. Additionally, if you rip your clothes try and mend them rather than just throwing it into landfill.
Try recycling, repairing, reusing, donating or swapping
If you no longer wear or use your clothing there are many ways to keep its life cycle going.
You could look for recycle centers close to you or drop your clothing directly in bins from companies, who sort what should be recycled and what can be resold. While recycling alone is not a full solution for fast-fashion waste, it is a vital component of a circular economy.
If you can no longer wear something because it has faded or is torn you could look at reusing it as rags to clean your house or look for alternative things you could use it for.
If your clothing or accessories are still in excellent condition you could also opt to donate it, resell it or even swap it with a family or friend.
Look out for greenwashing
As there is no clear definition for sustainability or sustainable fashion, it is easy for brands to say that they are taking actions to protect the planet and its people.
It is important to ask the tough questions like who makes your clothes, are your clothes made using child labour etc. If a brand avoids to answer these questions it is most likely that they are not as sustainable as they say.