Now more than ever, it’s important to focus on our individual carbon footprint when it comes to what we eat, how we travel, and what we wear. And when it comes to being sustainable in your fashion choices, it can be intimidating to say the least. It is pretty hard passing up a $15 sweater at H&M after all. Being environmentally conscious in your choices doesn’t have to be hard, in fact, there are a bunch of sustainable fashion tips that you can start thinking about before buying new clothes!
Why Go Sustainable?
If you care about the health of our planet and the people who inhabit it (present and future), then you should totally care about your own personal carbon footprint which includes your clothing! The fashion industry is one of the most harmful industries to planet Earth taking a whopping 10% responsibility for the world’s annual carbon emissions. That is more than all international flights and sea shipping combined. Yikes.
On top of that, the fashion industry produces 20% of wastewater globally due to fabric dyeing and treatments. Each year half a million tons of plastic microfibers are disposed into our oceans, which is the equivalent of about 50 billion plastic bottles.
Still not convinced? Many of your favourite fast fashion companies (ahem Zara, Forever21, H&M, etc.) subject their factory workers to inhumane working conditions for very low wages. If you’ve never heard of the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, I highly recommend you look into it to really understand the conditions these people have to work in.
Easy Sustainable Fashion Tips
Keep reading to learn how you can step up your sustainability game with these easy sustainable fashion tips.
1. Do You Really Need It?
It’s easy to impulse buy especially when you’re online shopping, but next time you feel the urge to splurge, step back and ask yourself if you really need the item. How often would you wear it? Is the fabric and stitching good enough quality to make it last? Do you already have something similar hanging in your closet? What does it really add to your wardrobe? If you can’t think of a solid reason why you actually need the item, it’s probably not worth purchasing.
2. Shop Second-Hand
The best way to find easy sustainable fashion is by shopping at consignment stores or thrift shops. Anyone that follows me knows that I love thrifting at Value Village! Not only will the items you purchase get a second chance at a loving home, but you also save money in the process. Talk about a win-win.
Even if you’re itching for some designer, there are a ton of local designer consignment shops or even online reseller websites such as ReBag and TheRealReal. Just make sure if you are looking for second-hand designer, that it’s authenticated by experts!
3. Avoid Microfibers
When possible, opt for natural fabrics such as organic cotton, wool, silk, and cashmere. Like I mentioned earlier, microfibers (which can be found in fabrics such as polyester and nylon) often end up polluting our oceans and are extremely difficult to clean up because of how small they are. Using naturally sourced, organic fabrics help avoid this, so while they may be a bit pricier, it’s totally worth it.
These are brands, like Athleta, that in addition to using more natural fibres they are sourcing materials such as recycled polyester and nylon. It is great to see brands thinking outside the box and making sustainability a priority.
4. Invest in Clothing You’ll Wear All-Year-Round
If you’re someone who stocks up on new bikinis every summer and new sweaters every winter, STOP IT! While it’s okay to buy seasonal pieces every once in a while, don’t go spending all of your money on them. Instead, invest in pieces that you can wear across multiples seasons such as t-shirts, denim, light jackets, sneakers, and simple dresses. This will cut down on the amount of clothing you purchase, free up some closet space, and save you money!
5. Never Throw Clothing Away
If you have pieces in your collection that you just don’t wear anymore, donate them or resell them on websites like Poshmark and Depop. Throwing clothing out in the garbage just means it will probably end up sitting in a landfill for years and years. Did you know that synthetic fabrics such as polyester can take anywhere between 20-200 years to decompose?
If the item is no longer wearable, the fabric or materials can usually be recycled for scraps. If you look up textile recycling in your area, you should be able to find a facility close by that does it. This is one of the simplest sustainable fashion tips.
6. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
Sometimes clothing brands throw around the terms eco-friendly or sustainable without backing up their claims. If you’re unsure how or where a garment was made, feel free to reach out to the company via social media or their customer care team. If they truly do put an emphasis on sustainability, they shouldn’t have a problem answering your questions!
7. Quality Over Quantity, Always
Yes, buying higher quality items will cost you more money but trust me, it’s totally worth it. Take a good pair of jeans for example. If you invest in quality denim, it usually has a better fit, is more comfortable, and will last you much longer than a pair of jeans from a fast fashion store. This is probably the hardest change to make, but try ditching fast fashion in favor for brands that actually care about the environment and their workers.
8. Take Care of Your Items
Taking care of the items you already own will increase the longevity of them and will result in buying less. Here are a few sustainable fashion tips for keeping your clothes looking brand new:
- Fold your sweaters instead of hanging them. Hanging sweaters results in stretch out shoulders and no one wants that.
- Wash your laundry at lower temperatures to avoid color fading and shrinking.
- If you find a hole or rip, take it to a tailor or repair it yourself. Neglecting a rip or tear can make it worse.
- Wash your clothes less frequently where possible. The more you wash, the higher chance they’ll lose their quality.
- Avoid drying when you can. Drying clothes are high temperatures can cause shrinking and pilling.
Using these Sustainable Fashion Tips
There are a ton of ways to achieve easy sustainable fashion, but keep in mind that change doesn’t happen overnight. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t always afford to invest in quality clothing. Little changes in the way that we all live can make a huge difference in the long run. Good luck making changes using these sustainable fashion tips.
Do you have any other easy sustainable fashion tips that I should add to this list? You might also like to read Ways to Start to Live More Sustainably.