9 Easy Ways To Make Your Wardrobe More Sustainable.
Updated: Sep 17
Dressing more sustainably isn't as difficult as it sounds. Believe it or not, but it's possible to enjoy fashion in an environmentally-friendly way. So, here are 9 easy ways to make your wardrobe more sustainable!
Taking the dive into sustainable fashion.
“More sustainable fashion can be defined as clothing, shoes and accessories that are manufactured, marketed and used in the most sustainable manner possible, taking into account both environmental and socio-economic aspects. In practice, this implies continuous work to improve all stages of the product’s life cycle, from design, raw material production, manufacturing, transport, storage, marketing and final sale, to use, reuse, repair, remake and recycling of the product and its components.” - Anna Brisma.
Although clothing is a necessity, it’s easy to take our shopping habits too far by buying more than we need. On top of that, many of us buy from fast fashion companies which don't treat their workers or the planet well. Underpaid garment workers continue to be exploited overseas, whilst chemical dyes and plastic microfibers pollute our water supply during clothing production. It’s clear that the fashion industry needs to change.
Consumers can make a difference by changing their shopping habits. Whilst it’s true that not buying anything at all is the most sustainable option, it’s still possible to buy clothes that have been manufactured in an environmentally-friendly way.
To help you out, I researched the best ways we can make our wardrobes more sustainable. Follow these 9 points and you'll make a difference - one small change at a time!
1. Organise Your Wardrobe Every Few Months.
In one UK survey, it was revealed that an average item of clothing is worn 7 times after being bought. To get the most wear out of your clothing, reorganising your wardrobe every few months will help. This is so you can identify the clothing you already own and plan what you’re going to do with each piece next. In fact, you might find clothing you've forgotten about at the back of your wardrobe!
To help, I recommend using wardrobe apps like Smart Closet. You take photographs of all the clothing you own and keep tabs on how often you wear each piece. This may sound tedious, but it's worth it in the long run. Once you’re on top of your wardrobe, you’ll start to recognise what clothing you don’t need. That way you won’t buy a similar item to one you already own ever again.
2. Don’t Know How To Style A Piece? Seek Out Inspiration.
After organising your wardrobe, it’s likely there’s clothing you want to get rid of. Think twice before discarding it. There’s always new ways you can wear a piece - you just have to get creative. I love using handy websites like Pinterest or LookBook for outfit inspiration. You can search up similar items to the ones you own and get ideas by looking at how other people style them.
Smart Closet also has a planning feature which you can use to create different looks from your wardrobe. Mess around with the photos you took and arrange them into new and exciting combinations. Once you've come up with new ideas, maybe you'll want to keep an item after all and wear it more often.
3. Wash Your Clothing Less.
Over-washing your clothing wastes water and releases plastic microfibers into the environment. It also decreases the lifespan of your favourite pieces by fading colour and loosening elastic. This is why it’s important to be mindful about how often you wash your clothes.
Before you hold your nose, I’m not saying that you should walk around with dirty clothing on. Instead, just try to wash them less when you can. A quick sniff test should do the trick. A general rule of thumb is to wear something three times before you wash it. But when you need to use a washing machine, try and use a half-load whilst turning on the ECO option if your machine has one.
4. Don’t Buy Anything You Won’t Wear More Than Once.
Whenever you’re shopping and find clothes you like, ask yourself if you’d wear them more than once first. Sometimes, buying too much stems from the societal pressure to wear a different outfit everyday. This is a toxic mindset that encourages people to buy more clothing every week - even when they don’t need anything new. It's time to stop wasting our clothes.
Instead, don’t be afraid to outfit repeat. To be honest, your family, friends, or colleagues probably won’t care if they see you in the same outfit twice. Wear your clothing again and again with pride.
5. Don't Throw Clothing Away.
If you’re not into a piece of clothing anymore, don’t throw it away. If it’s in good condition it’ll have plenty of wear left. You could donate it to your local charity shop, trade it at a clothing swap, pass it onto a friend or family member, or even sell it online on websites like Ebay, Depop, and Vinted.
If a piece of clothing is too tatty to pass on there are still places that would be happy to receive it. Your local council might accept clothing waste and some cities and towns will have clothes recycling bins. Just make sure you check online first! Whatever you do, don’t let your old clothing sit in landfill.
6. Know Your Brands.
It’s tempting to shop at fast fashion brands like Zara, H&M, or Pull&Bear when you need a new look. However, with the sheer amount of clothing they produce each month you’ll want to think twice before shopping there. On the bright side, you’ll be happy to hear that there are more sustainable clothing brands out there than you think - catering to different budgets and tastes.
A useful website to find sustainable brands is good on you. It’s a huge, online fashion directory that rates fashion brands based on their impact on the environment and garment workers. When you can identify the brands that are better for the planet, you’ll feel much more confident about shopping sustainably.
7. Know Your Fabrics.
Some fabrics are more sustainable than others. It’s important to know about the different kinds of fabric, as it’ll help you make a more informed decision when you're looking for clothing.
Linen is one of the most sustainable fashion materials. It’s a lightweight, breathable fabric that is made from flax plant fibre. In contrast, cotton is not very sustainable. For one cotton T-shirt, around 2,700 liters of water are used up. When you want to buy cotton clothing, you should look out for organic cotton instead - especially if it's sourced through the Better Cotton Initiative. You can learn more about sustainable fabrics by reading this amazing BBC article.
8. Be Open To Secondhand Clothing.
The stigma against secondhand clothing is a thing of the past. Now, it is cool to wear your grandma’s hand-me-downs or seek out amazing finds in your local charity shop. Not only are you preventing clothing from going to landfill and supporting a good cause, but you’re saving money and will find unique pieces no one else is wearing!
If you don’t have charity shops near you, there are countless second hand shops online. Oxfam has an online shop, whilst ASOS Marketplace is home to an amazing selection of independent vintage boutiques.
9. Mend Clothing - (Or Learn How To).
Increase the longevity of your clothing by knowing how to mend them. Being able to patch up a hole in your jeans or fix an unravelled hemline are handy skills to have. Even if you have fiddly fingers like me, it’s worth being patient and learning how to make small clothing repairs.
A quick search on Youtube will lead you to simple tutorials you can follow. Once you get the hang of tasks like basic hand-sewing (it took me a while), your clothing will last for longer. It’s also handy to have a small DIY kit at your home or in your handbag for emergencies. A needle, loose fabric, and thread in a few colours (black, white, and red) shouldn’t cost you much!
Additional Sustainable Fashion Resources:
Fashion Revolution: A non-profit organisation that works towards greater sustainability and transparency within the fashion industry. On their website you can find eye-opening resources like garment worker diaries and consumer surveys.
@ssustainably_: An amazing Instagram run by Gaia. She creates beautiful infographics that are packed with facts on sustainable fashion. I've read amazing posts on caring for denim and creating a capsule wardrobe.
Thanks for Reading
I hope this article gave you some useful tips!
Also, follow me at @chicandcultural on Instagram.
Until next time,