“The fashion industry emits more carbon than international flights and maritime shipping combined”. This sentence from a Business Insider article made me think about how the fashion industry has eaten our brains. The reality is: the fashion industry produces 10% of all of humanity’s carbon emissions, is the second largest consumer of the world’s water supply, and pollutes the oceans with microplastics. But let’s be honest, who never stood in front of the closet and said: “I have nothing to wear!“, with the closet full of clothes? So, from where do we start this thing called “sustainable wardrobe”?
Deciding to stop buying clothes from fast-fashion companies and investing in sustainable brands is just one of the 8 resources that I present you to start the path towards a more sustainable wardrobe.
1. Use what you already have inside your wardrobe
Studies tell us that each piece of clothing will be thrown away after it has been worn, an average of just four times, and that 85% of all textiles go to landfill each year.
Therefore, the first step and, probably the most sustainable, is to use what you already have. For this reason we are going to use everything that we already have inside our closets and we are going to take maximum care of it to extend its useful life.
A misconception of “sustainable wardrobes” is that they have to be filled with new garments from ethical fashion brands. But throwing away everything you already have and replacing it with new clothing, even if it is from sustainable brands, deep down is neither good for the planet, nor good for our pockets.
2. Reuse or donate what you don’t want
When a piece of clothing breaks, or is no longer in its best condition, we can reuse the pieces of fabric to make our own masks, kitchen and household cleaning cloths, tawashi sponges, soap bags, head bands, mesh bags… With imagination and desire we will find a thousand and one ways to reuse these fabrics.
We can also donate them to associations that deal with textile waste or deposit them in textile recycling bins.
And last, but not least, if the clothes are in good condition, it is best to donate it to charities so that others in need can continue to enjoy it.
3. Buy second hand
I know that many people are not convinced to buy second-hand clothes, however it is another of the most sustainable resources: buying what already exists. In this way it is possible to renew the wardrobe at a good price with clothes that probably, in other cases, would end up in the landfill. When you get tired of your clothes, you can sell them to second-hand stores and exchange them for new ones, generating like this no waste.
I am happy that more and more second hand stores are being found, some of them are also called vintage stores. With this slight name change, perhaps more people are going to be drawn to these amazing businesses. We can find wonders in them!
4. Organize “parties” of clothing swaps
Society has habituated us to have to renew our wardrobe too often. So another sustainable and zero waste option to renovate our closets is to organize clothing swap “parties”. We can exchange clothes with our friends, colleagues, family, etc. We all have clothes that remain at the bottom of the closet, lost. What a better option than to exchange them for others that we are going to be wearing more often.
This idea is great, I love it! You just have to invite people who are also interested in this very special party, enjoy the exchange and, in the end, everyone takes clothes to renew the closet in a sustainable way.
5. Borrow or rent for specific and short-term events
Events such as weddings, parties, receptions, and even pregnancy make us buy pieces that we are going to use once or for a very short period. Therefore there are options such as borrowing or renting. Ask your friends for that dress or suit that you like so much or rent that dress that you would only wear on special occasions. Like that you can enjoy it without having the bad feeling of having bought it for a single occasion.
6. Support sustainable fashion brands
In recent years, sustainable clothing brands have quadrupled, and there are more and more options on the market. Even though, most are still quite expensive, which is why I place this resource so low on my list, since it is not 100% necessary to create a sustainable wardrobe.
But if we must or want to buy new clothes, we must be aware of what we buy and try to invest in sustainable fashion brands.
Sustainable fashion brands follow very clear guidelines, for example: they take into account the materials used for their production, proximity, the conditions and wages of their workers are fair, etc. Keep in mind that you pay not only for the garment but for the entire sustainable concept behind it. So, in need, it is better to invest in a garment that we know the quality is good and will last for many years, even if it is somewhat more expensive than what we are used to. In this article you will find information with which you can recognize when a brand is sufficiently sustainable, and a checklist of which points we have to look for to recognize sustainable fashion.
7. Buy Neutral / Basic Garments
The fashion industry has habituated us to pay very little for clothes, to wear them a couple of times, and after to throw them away when the trend is over. Therefore, for a sustainable wardrobe you have to try to buy clothes that are neutral / basic, that combine with everything, so that it will never go out of style.
Take a look at your wardrobe: what are the oldest clothes you still have? Surely those to which you have an emotional bond and those that have simple colors, classic cuts and good quality. With these details, you already know what you should be buying in case of need.
8. Wooden hangers
Around 8 billion plastic hangers are thrown into landfills every year and they leach toxic chemicals such as benzene and BPA into our groundwater.
So one last thing I would recommend to round off this sustainable wardrobe is to try to avoid plastic hangers and use wooden ones. This way we will reduce future plastic waste.
In short, there are a thousand and one ways to create and maintain a sustainable wardrobe. Which one will you start with? Join me in the comments.