Having a sustainable and ethical wardrobe doesn’t mean getting rid of everything you own and starting again. It also doesn’t mean that you need to have a whole lot of spare cash lying around to spend on new clothes. Actually, creating a sustainable and ethical collection of clothing is a lot easier than you might think. Take a look at the tips below. These are not ground-breaking, but sometimes we all need a bit of inspiration so get out of a (in this case) shopping rut.
INVEST IN QUALITY
Ok so there are no two ways about it. If you want quality clothing, you are going to have to shell out a little more for it. Now I know I said that an ethical and sustainable wardrobe wasn’t going to cost you a bundle, but the fast fashion model has conditioned us into paying far too little for our clothing and the real value has been completely forgotten. Of course along with these ridiculously low prices, comes a shocking low quality product. Sorry to break it to you, but there is just no such thing as a $5 organic or Fair Trade t-shirt.
But by spending a little extra (the prices are really not outrageous) you can get yourself some high quality pieces of clothing, that were produced without harming the environment or workers in the supply chain. When you really think about it, in the long run you will be saving money because you won’t need to buy new stuff all the time when the cheap stuff falls apart or you simply can’t wear it anymore because it is like so last season.
Not sure if what you are about to buy has had a harmful effect on the environment or anyone in the supply chain? Ask the questions! Ask the people in the store who made it and how it was made. If they don’t know (which is not a good sign) then go directly to the brand. Whether you look for information on their website or ask them direct questions on social media, don’t stop until you find the answers and can make an informed decision. And if nobody is giving out any answers, it is pretty safe to say that they have nothing good to report back to you and they don’t want you to know the details of their supply chain. Stay away from brands like this.
Second hand, vintage, used, whatever you want to call it, is amazing. Apart from the obvious money saving benefits of buying second hand, there are a heap of other cool benefits too. When you go op-shopping, you just never know what treasure you will find. It is great fun to go digging around and discover something that no-one else has. I mean, why do people all want to wear exactly the same clothes? Am I the only one who finds it strange when I see a group of friends wearing a slightly different version of the same jacket?
Buying used clothing is also a major positive for the environment because no new clothes are produced (saving some of the Earth’s precious and finite resources) and existing clothing is diverted away from landfill.
UPCYCLE/ REPAIR/ DIY
If you look hard enough, you can still find some clothing alteration shops around town. But they are becoming rarer and rarer. These days, when people have damaged clothing, they simply just chuck it and replace it with the next cheap version. Clothing has become disposable. But what about if you didn’t just throw it away with last nights take-away containers? What about if you did something crazy like repaired it, either yourself or professionally? Then you could hold onto it longer and not waste money on replacing it.
Or even crazier, you could get a little creative and turn that damaged piece of clothing into something new. This is upcycling. Upcycling can be simple alterations to garments, such as adding buttons or it can be the complete creation of a new garment out of something else. Maybe your favourite pair of pants has a hole in the knee. Why not just cut off the legs and create a pair of shorts? You don’t necessarily need mad sewing skills, just a little imagination.
And for those who are handy behind the sewing machine, why not make your own garments. It is a very useful skill to have and a great hobby, plus the added bonus of being able to say “I made it myself.”
DON’T FOLLOW TRENDS
This is a big sustainable wardrobe killer. In the past, there were four seasons of fashion. Now there are 52. One a week! Who can keep up? That means that brands are churning out a new look every week and trying to get you to buy it. Stripes were in last week, this week it’s leopard print. That means you have to get back to the shops and update your wardrobe. No! Get off this crazy ride and buy pieces of clothing that won’t go out of date quicker than your milk. Think about your purchases and buy pieces that you really love, pieces that suit you and that you can wear with multiple outfits.
SUPPORT ETHICAL AND SUSTAINABLE LABELS/ARTISANS
This is super important for the ethical and sustainable fashion industry. All of those brands out there doing an amazing job of producing clothing that considers people and the planet in its processes need to be supported as much as possible. These days, these labels are not so hard to find and more of them are popping up all the time. So get behind them because this is a great way to make ‘eco-fashion’ the norm.
As you can see, a sustainable and ethical wardrobe need not be a fantasy or only for the affluent. It is achievable for everyone and really requires minimal effort. Now you are all inspired and what not, get on it!
Do you know of any other tips that could be added to this list? Which ones have you already used to create a sustainable and ethical wardrobe? Share your thoughts below!