6 Ways to More a Sustainable Wardrobe
Updated: Jul 20, 2020
Happy almost Earth Day! This is a great time to recognize how the environment is impacted by our actions, and also to move towards a more sustainable lifestyle and sustainable wardrobe. But how the heck are you supposed to do that without giving up on style?
I would like to preface first by saying that I am definitely not perfect. Not even remotely close, actually. I'm just a person who loves clothes who also wants the impact of clothing production and waste to also harm the Earth less. It's hard when something that you love is harmful. It's even harder to recognize how harmful it is, and move away from it.
Especially because, in the fashion world, sustainable often means more expensive, and that's not a change everyone can afford to make. And, not to mention, not everyone wants to thrift or get their items secondhand. It's nice having something that's yours and yours only, but a lot of times that means opting for less expensive, fast-fashion pieces.
After all, fast fashion is easy. It's cheap, and you can get it quickly and there is no limit to the designer-for-less looks you can get. Sometimes, the quality of these clothes isn't even necessarily bad, and I would be lying to say that I don't love the ease behind this kind of shopping. However the good is absolutely outweighed by the bad.
The treatment of factory workers, often with little to no pay, the stolen ideas from other designers that hurt their business, the economic impact, and the overall wastefulness of how easily these products are to come by (and how easily they're disposed of) are just some of the reasons that fast fashion actually sucks (and the fact that it is so awful, honestly sucks).
So how do you get around that, when you love fashion and love shopping but sustainable clothing often seems out of reach? Are sustainable fashion and sustainability a luxury that not everyone can afford? Maybe in its absolute entirety, yes. But that doesn't mean that you can't take small steps in the right direction — without sacrificing your love for fashion.
Figure Out Which Stores to Stray Away From
There are plenty of articles out there that will expose some of the most popular fast fashion brands, but how can you know for sure what brands are ethical, treat workers fairly, and everything in between?
Via Tik Tok I actually discovered this app called "Good on You," which lets you know which brands are ethical and sustainable through a variety of different tests. They look at the environmental impact, animal testing/treatment and labor, and give the company an overall rating (Great, Good, It's a Start, Not Good Enough, & We Avoid). Companies that don't make their global impacts and labor public or accessible are also rated lower — because "you have a right to know how the products you buy affect the issues you care about," and I agree!
You can also organize by brands or categories (like jeans, or bags) to see which brands are rated the most sustainable and ethical. There are plenty of articles on the app, posted almost daily, about sustainability news and how you can get more involved. There are also some offers from high-rated brands, with coupon codes included. And the app is free, so what's not to love?
Go Thrifting (online too)
If you're into thrifting (personally I love a piece with character and life behind it), going thrifting can be a great alternative to fast fashion! When thrifting, you're more likely to find interesting pieces rather than basics, but if you look long enough there are plenty of places that also have great basics and neutrals. Jackets, pants, tees and dresses are, in my opinion, surefire hits at any store.
So what do you do during a global pandemic when you can't go anywhere? Plenty of apps are marketplaces for thrifting, whether it be for unique, second-hand, or even designer clothing. One of my local thrift stores has now moved towards an online platform with everything going on, and it might even be easier than flipping through racks.
Some of my favorite places to find gently-used clothes include Depop, Mercari & Poshmark, to name a few. Relovv was my absolute favorite (I miss her every day), and when I'm at school, I love going to MyUnique.
I have gotten a lot of serious inspiration from watching fashion Tik Toks, and I can't believe how creative some people are! From flipping clothes to making them completely from scratch, it's amazing what people can do with a needle and a thread.
If you're feeling creative and have some time to kill, try making your own clothing. You can use anything you have at home, from old tees to your dad's old clothes (ask first), and trust me, something about making cute, trendy clothing yourself and watching all the time and effort that goes into it makes it even more special than adding it to your cart.
Work With What You Already Have
This month, I started what I'd like to do more frequently, and cleaned out my entire closet. Yes, for the most part this means taking everything out, refolding it and putting it back in, but it also means finding things you totally forgot you had (which is almost the same as buying something new, except it's a free surprise).
This could mean remaking pieces you have, or just re-styling pieces in ways you never have before. Sometimes, you don't actually need new clothes, you just want new clothes - a struggle I often face. You'd be surprised with what you can do with what you already have. Making your clothing more accessible and visible is also a key point in getting the most out of your closet.
I recently decided to make a Pinterest board for styles that are accessible based on what I already have in my closet. It's always great to find inspiration, and sometimes combinations that you've never though of (or least expect) work better than you'd think.
Invest in Timeless Pieces
Something that I think is a great idea is splurging on good-quality, timeless pieces from sustainable, ethical brands. It'll hurt your bank account a little more, but in turn, it'll be better for the planet and you're able to get more out of your closet by having these classic pieces in your wardrobe to style with.
Pieces like neutral tank tops, jeans that fit you perfectly, a black blazer, and white sneakers, are examples of timeless articles of clothing that you'll be able to wear with a lot of different things, no matter what your style. It's actually saving you more money in the long run too, because you won't be buying a new *insert clothing here* every few months. Regardless of your style, there are staple pieces that work with everything — pieces that everyone should have in their closet.
Seek out Sales
Last but certainly not least (because it's my favorite!) we have seeking out sales. Love a brand that does good for the planet but can't otherwise afford it? The clearance section is your new best friend. I love shopping in the clearance section regardless of when and where I'm looking (why pay full price for...anything), and it really does save you a lot of money in the long run.
Signing up for company and brand's email newsletters can be annoying sometimes, but it's also often where you'll get access to sales, deals and maybe even codes. I have a separate email account that I don't use anymore that I now dedicate to these kinds of emails, and that's where I head over to when I want to do some shopping.
I also like to use Honey when I'm shopping online — it automatically applies the best codes to save you the most money.
There are so many ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and make choices that are better for workers, animals, and even your wallet, but it would be silly to say it's a simple switch to make. Often, these ethical and sustainable brands are more expensive, and not everyone has the money (or wants to spend it) for $100 jeans, or wants to buy secondhand, and that's okay.
Being aware of what you put out into the word and taking small steps where you can is important, and everyone moves at their own pace.
I would love to hear if you have any steps you've taken towards sustainable shopping and fashion! Leave a comment below, I'm excited to see what you have to say.
*this post is not sponsored in any way*