With COVID-19 forcing us to spend more time at home than ever before, you may have re-organized your closet a few times and perhaps even decided to transition to a more sustainable wardrobe. Making the switch to more mindful shopping habits and sustainable clothing makes a HUGE difference on people and the planet. Plus, you don’t have to give up your personal style and the clothes you already love and wear. Keep reading for our top tips on jump-starting your sustainable wardrobe!
Tip 1: Wear what you already own
Take a look at what you have in your closet. Knowing what you have in your wardrobe is a great way to never have one of those “I have nothing to wear” days again. Really take the time to see what looks good paired together, try mixing and matching what you already have. Creating a sustainable wardrobe isn’t about throwing away all of your fast-fashion purchases and starting with a blank slate - it’s about appreciating what you have and getting the maximum use out of every garment. The amount of unworn clothing around the world is astonishing, a study found that Americans don’t wear 82% of the clothing in their closet! So shop your own closet and make the most of the clothes you already own and love.
Tip 2: Fix & Mend
A great way to salvage ripped or broken items is to create a mending box. This is where I place all of my clothes that need some extra love and attention (ex. missing a button, alterations or if anything has a hole/rip in it). If you’re handy with sewing you can create some pretty fun DIY projects, or you can bring them in to your local tailor. While mending your clothing, remember that the garment was brought to life by multiple pairs of hands - hands that processed the fibres, cut the fabric, did the stitching and more. So fix it, hem it, tailor it, you’re adding value and character at every step!
Tip 3: Host a clothing swap
Finding yourself just plan bored with the clothes that you already have? Host a fun clothing swap with friends or family and make a night of it. Create an awesome playlist, get some wine and cheese, and tell everyone to bring a bag of old clothing they’ve been thinking of getting rid of. This is such a fun way to snag practically new clothes that would otherwise end up in landfills. You can even plan an e-clothing swap party if you can’t get together in person, just have everyone join a zoom call to show off what’s up for grabs!
Tip 4: Alternative uses for old clothes
There are so many DIY projects for clothes that can no longer be worn (Pinterest is a goldmine!). Consider turning them into rags, stuffing floor cushions or poofs, or even creating a dog bed with them. Remember, having a sustainable wardrobe means going beyond purchasing the clothing. Thinking about the afterlife of a garment is just as important (if not more) as the way we buy our clothes!
The world of sustainable and ethical fashion can be confusing to navigate (for all of us!). The more you learn about it the easier it will become to align your values with your purchasing habits, just be patient with yourself! Nobody figures this stuff out overnight.
Sustainable fashion can be many things, but the most important issues can be boiled down to two things – materials, and labour. For materials, look at whether the fibres and dyes are eco-friendly, which is fairly easy to find with a few google searches (check out Good On You, they rate most eco fabrics). On labour, look at how a brand approaches production, how transparent are they on who makes their clothes and where? Look for evidence that they pay attention to wages, workers’ rights and health & safety in their supply chain (again, Google is your friend here).
If you can’t find all the information you’re looking for before purchasing, reach out to the brand via email and ask. If they have nothing to hide, chances are they will get back to you with some answers.
Tip 6: Don’t feel overwhelmed
You are starting a long-term process and the journey might feel overwhelming. ‘Greening’ your closet is a commitment that will take time but it is so worth it! Start slowly, and be proud of every small step you are taking towards a more sustainable wardrobe.
Tip 7: Figure out your sustainable wardrobe style
A sustainable wardrobe is going to look different for everyone. Sustainable fashion includes vintage clothing, pre-loved items, handmade pieces, garments made from sustainable materials and ethical manufacturing. Creating a sustainable wardrobe doesn’t mean you have to give up your style and dress like plain jane, actually it’s the opposite! The wonderful thing about ‘sustainable fashion’ being a wide-spectrum category is that you have so many options on how to build your wardrobe – make it 100% you.
Tip 8: Perfection is not the goal
From socks to underwear, to shoes and a winter coat, curating a 100% sustainable wardrobe may not be a realistic feat for most of us. Whether the materials are performance-focused, shipping is not available, or the sustainable options aren’t at an accessible price point, it’s okay if not every piece in your closet is ‘sustainable’. At the end of the day, the goal is not to be perfect, but to try our best to be mindful of every purchase that we make.