We all know that the fashion industry has a large impact on the environment, and many of us are making changes to the way we shop to support more ethical fashion choices.
Whether you’re concerned about manufacturing methods, your carbon footprint or the fabrics you wear, there are wears to make your wardrobe more ethical.
- Buy for repeat wears. Fast fashion contributes to a lot of excess waste, as people buy clothes and dispose of them after only a few wears. Instead, choose pieces you can see yourself wearing many times. Before buying, ask yourself if you’ll wear it more than thirty times. If you will, buy it, and make sure you do rewear it. Pick more versatile pieces that can be reworn, and move away from statement pieces you can’t see yourself wearing more than a couple of times.
- Do some research. One of the best ways to shop more sustainably, is to build your knowledge. Read into the values and practices of your favorite brands, and look into the way clothes are made. Armed with proper information, you can make informed choices about how and where you shop.
- Buy vintage or go thrifting. New clothing has a substantial carbon footprint, but by being second hand clothing, you’re choosing something much for ethical. You’re also not putting money into a brand whose practices you might not agree with. Buy from a charity shop and support a good cause at the same time as shopping.
- Focus your wardrobe on pieces you can wear through multiple seasons. If you live in a cool climate, there’s no point buying a whole summer wardrobe. Instead, focus on pieces that can be layered together to work for different seasons and for different weather. You’ll get more wear out of each item this way.
- When you get rid of unwanted clothes, don’t just throw them away and contribute to landfill. Donate them instead. Either take them to a charity shop, or find ways to reuse the fabric elsewhere in your home, like using old t-shirts as cleaning cloths. You could host swap parties with friends, where you all bring items you no longer wear and exchange them for your friends’ things that you do want.
- Look after your clothes so they last longer. If your clothes are well looked after, you’ll shop less, which is always more sustainable.
- Learn how to make basic repairs to your clothes, like replacing buttons or mending minor tears. Find a good tailor as well to make more major repairs. Repairing things means less waste and less new clothes needing to be bought. A good tailor can also adjust clothes you do more, making them fit much better and be more flattering.
- When you shop, choose quality pieces that will last longer. Picking quality over quantity means that your clothes will look good for longer, making your wardrobe more sustainable. Cheap clothes tend to come from more questionable manufacturing processes too (cheap clothes are made with cheap labour) so avoiding fast, affordable fashion will always be good pick if you want to shop in a more ethical way.
- Change how you think about your clothes buying. Many of us will happily spend a lot of money on a dress for a special occasion, but would think twice before spending a similar amount on an item like a pair of jeans you’ll wear hundreds of times. Instead, spend the money on the items in your wardrobe that you’ll wear most often. You’ll get better quality, better fitting, longer lasting pieces, which is a more sustainable way to shop.
- Choose more eco-friendly materials. Some fabrics have a higher impact on the environment due to the chemicals used. Natural fabrics like cotton, linen, hemp, bamboo and wool are all more sustainable, and kinder to the environment.
- Check the websites of brands you like. Clothing companies should have some information about what they do to ensure fair and safe working conditions for the people who actually make the clothes. If you can’t find this information, tweet at or email them to ask what they’re doing. Only shop from places willing to disclose how their staff are treated.
- Run the washing machine less. Most of your clothes don’t need to be washed after every wear, and washing your clothes less reduces your impact on the environment. You’ll use less energy and reduce the wear on your clothes. Wash your clothes on a cool setting too to use even less energy, and then dry them on a clothesline instead of in the dryer.