As we learn more about the current state and possible future of our environment, we are also learning more about what we can do in all facets of our lives to essentially reverse the damage as much as possible. The obvious answers are to recycle, waste less, use less energy and use more sustainable products. One area of your life that you may not have thought of that can make a difference is right in your closet. It’s not widespread understanding that the creation and disposing of clothing has a large negative impact on the environment, from water waste to toxins produced, to the landfill waste buildup.
Creating an ethical and sustainable wardrobe can seem daunting, but beginning to practice just 5 simple steps is easy and will have a long-term positive impact on your quality of life.
One of the best ways to begin overhauling your wardrobe is to shop at and sell your gently used pieces to recycled fashion stores, such as your local Crossroads Trading Co. Extending the life of a piece of clothing by buying used, selling to a recycled fashion store, or donating is one of the easiest (and fun!) ways to create less waste.
You don’t need to completely give up buying new pieces, but when you decide to invest in a new piece of clothing, shop smarter. Invest in pieces with longevity that you will wear time and time again, pledge to only buy something that you can wear at least three different ways, and steer away from fast fashion and mini-trend pieces, focusing on classic, versatile styles.
Seek Out Information
It may take some time, but learning about the way clothing is made or how a brand operates is important and may begin to impact your purchasing decisions. Even something as small as seeking out natural fibers like cotton instead of man-made like polyester make a considerable impact because the creation and recycling of the fabric has a less harmful impact on the environment. Also, shopping brands with environmentally safe and sustainable practices will open your eyes about the harm that other methods can cause to our planet. Read The Good Trade’s guide for a rundown of some of the best fair trade and ethical fashion brands here.
Practice Proper Care & Maintenance
Properly caring for your wardrobe, whether it is an investment piece or a fast fashion item, will guarantee that it will last longer and be replaced less often. It seems more than obvious, but following the care label instructions on your garment will ensure a longer life. Another valuable practice is repairing something when it is damaged instead of throwing it out and replacing it. Invest time in learning basic sewing skills or finding a quality tailor instead of using it as an excuse to replace it with a new item.
Maybe the most obvious step to creating less waste in any area of your life is to consume less. For some people, this is easier said than done. I personally understand the tendency of impulse buying, especially in the age of influencers, social media status, and online shopping. An easy rule to follow when you want something, but not sure you need to add it to your overflowing closet? Sleep on it: a day, 3 days, or even a week. If the impulse subsides, you don’t need it.