How To Make Your Wardrobe More Sustainable
As we all embark on our individual journey towards living more sustainably, we will need to assess every area of our lives and what we can change to make it less harmful to the planet. One of these areas is the wardrobe.
It's easy to overlook this part of our everyday lives yet the fashion industry accounts for roughly 10% of global carbon emissions and it contributes to a huge amount of waste in landfills. In fact, we throw away an estimated £140 million worth of clothing every year.
So, how can we cut down on our shopping habits and reduce our clothing waste to create a more sustainable wardrobe?
Organise Your Wardrobe
The first mistake that we often make, and that can lead us to overconsume, is not being fully aware of what pieces we already own. It's easy for a beloved t-shirt or beautiful dress to get lost at the back of your wardrobe and forgotten leaving you to buy a duplicate of something you already have and that hasn't been worn much, if at all.
If you take some time to sort through your wardrobe and organise it so that you know exactly what you have before you start shopping, you'll find that you end up needing to buy a whole lot less and might rediscover some old treasures.
Build A Capsule Wardrobe
A capsule wardrobe is all about minimalism and investing in key, classic pieces that are versatile so that you can get more outfits out of less items. The idea is to avoid buying into trends and to stick to items of clothing that will never go out style. Some good examples of this are a plain white t-shirt, blue denim jeans, little black dress, leather jacket and a fitted blazer.
By building a capsule wardrobe with these kinds of garments, you will find yourself no longer having to throw away clothes because they have 'gone out style'. You will also be able to remix each piece and wear it many different ways giving yourself less excuse to need to buy a new outfit for every occasion.
Shop Quality Over Quantity
The need or urge to buy new clothes is unavoidable. Whether you are starting a new job that has a strict dress code or you have been invited to a themed party, shopping less – though good in practice – isn't always easy, or even possible.
The biggest change occurs when we consider how we shop and not just how often we shop. When you make smarter shopping decisions and create healthier shopping habits, you will see an instant positive shift in the sustainability of your wardrobe.
For example, investing in good quality pieces can be pricey but it works out more cost-effective in the long run as the clothes will last longer and you will get far more wear out of them. This means less waste and, often, supports better ethical working conditions for those who are manufacturing the clothes.
Reign In Impulse Buying
You should also try to make more considered purchasing decisions and not get carried away with impulse buying. A great way to practice this is to ask yourself if you really need the item before you checkout (is this the item that you had on your list or is this something you have just stumbled upon?) and if the answer is no then leave it in your wish-list or place it back on the rail, wait a week and if you are still thinking about it then give yourself permission for a treat.
You will find that, in most cases, you have long forgotten the cute skirt or stylish jeans that you almost purchased out of impulse before the day is even over.
You can also ask yourself some other questions before making a purchase such as 'do I have anything to wear it with?', 'will I wear it at least 30 times?' and 'is there anything about it I don't like about it?'. By taking a minute to ask yourself these questions and really consider your investment, you are giving yourself time to rethink unnecessary and wasteful buying decision.
One of the most important things you can do is start supporting sustainable brands and businesses within the fashion industry.
There are so many of them on the market and a lot of well-known brands are taking positive steps towards being more sustainable so you will be spoilt for choice.
Just make sure that you don't get blindsided by greenwashing tactics by looking out for certifications and doing your research.
Charity shops and thrift stores are not only a great way to save money but they are also a more sustainable way to shop for new clothes because they are, technically, not new.
These businesses are extending the life of garments that are wearable and in good condition, saving them from the landfill, so shopping there means that you are supporting this circular economy.
It can also be a fun experience and you will often find some great vintage, one-of-a-kind pieces.
Do Some Repairs
When it comes to clearing out your closet, the first items to go are the ones that we usually deem no longer wearable because they have a stain or a tear or they no longer fit. However, these sorts of things can sometimes be fixed by you or a tailor.
Your favourite pair of jeans that are now baggy at the waist because you have lost some weight can be tailored by a seamstress, stains can be removed with a little home remedy and rips can be sewn up in five minutes with some needle and thread.
Even if some DIY doesn't fix the problem, it is always worth trying to find a resolution before you toss the item aside altogether.
Upcycling Is Always An Option
Other common reasons for throwing away items of clothing is because the trend has passed, you've had it so long/worn it so much that you're bored of it or you just no longer like it. When this is the case, you should try upcycling before throwing it away.
Plain jeans can be transformed into shorts or distressed jeans, an oversized jumper can become a boxy cropped jumper or a simple t-shirt can be tie-dyed to give it some character. The options are endless and it's a great opportunity to create something unique and add your own personal touch to your wardrobe.
Donate Or Sell What You Can
If all else fails, you can donate or sell your clothing. You should only find yourself throwing items away if they are in really bad condition or if they cannot be worn by anyone else such as bikinis.
You can start by asking friends or family if they want anything from your pile of rejected items and then take whatever is left to a charity shop.
There are also a handful of brilliant apps and websites that enable users to sell their clothing, even if worn, so you can make a little money and give your clothes a new home.