When looking for ways to reduce your impact on the planet, your wardrobe may not be the first place you’d start. But the fashion industry is a big contributor to global emissions, and the way we buy our clothes matters.
Depending on fast fashion means supporting an industry that has devastating impacts for our planet. Taking up sustainable fashion habits is one way you can make a difference and send the message that the fashion industry needs to change.
It’s not always easy to know where to start, and it can be hard to find sustainable fashion brands that are accessible and affordable. You might not be able to do everything at once, but making one change at a time is a step in the right direction.
Here are 5 things you can do to make your wardrobe more eco-friendly.
1. Learn more about the impact your clothes are having on the environment
The first step to making a change is being aware of the issue and understanding why you’re doing it. Fashion is one of the biggest commercial industries on the planet, and it is also one of the most destructive industries for our environment. The more you learn about the link between fashion and climate change, the harder it will be to overlook it the next time you want to buy something.
Here are some resources to get you thinking about the impact the fashion industry has on the planet:
- Why is fast fashion so bad for the planet? | Byrnewithme
- Use the ThredUp Fast Fashion Footprint Calculator to find out how your wardrobe contributes to climate change.
- The True Cost – A documentary by Andrew Morgan about the fast fashion industry and the impact it has on the workers, the local environment, and the global economy.
- What Even Is Fast Fashion – Climate Queens, Episode 1 – A podcast by two Irish women exploring the world of fast fashion and the Fashion Revolution movement
2. Stop buying stuff!
The next best thing you can do is stop buying new things! At least for a while, try to avoid shopping for new clothes. Instead, take time to do an inventory of what you own. It’s been suggested that 80% of the clothes in our wardrobe go unworn. Chances are, there are things in there that haven’t seen the light of day in a long time, so the question is, why do you still have it? Are you holding onto it ‘just in case’? Be honest with yourself about the clothes you do and do not need.
Once you’ve decided what clothes to let go of, check to see that they’re in good condition, then pack them up and take them to a the charity shop or a clothes swap (more on this in point #3!). Try to completely avoid the bin – if you really think it’s reached the end of its life, turn it into a rag you can use to clean with instead.
3. Choose second hand first
The next time you’re looking for something, make an effort to see if you can get it second hand. It will save you money and it’s better for the planet. Lots of people sell their clothes online, and you never know what you’re going to find in a charity shop.
Here are some things to try:
- Visit your local charity shops to see what you can find. It helps if you know what you’re looking for, but keep an open mind because you might not find an exact match, but there could be something close.
- Look online at sites like ThredUp, eBay, depop, or even on Facebook Marketplace.
- Swap, swap, swap! Clothes swaps are a great way to find a new home for the things you don’t wear anymore, at the same time as finding some great new pieces for yourself. Search on Facebook to see if there are any clothes swaps near you.
If you’re in Ireland, Sustainable Fashion Dublin run lots of sustainable fashion events around the country, including Charity Shop Crawls and Clothes Swaps. Keep an eye on their page for upcoming events!
4. Do your brand research
If you do decide you want to buy something new, try to do some research on the brands you’re about to give your money to. Many ethical brands are transparent about where their factories are located, who made your clothes, how much land, water, and chemicals were needed to manufacture them, etc. This helps you to make a decision about whether or not you want to shop there.
It’s not always possible to buy from the most ethical companies all the time, but try your best. Use an app like Good On You to get a rating for all of your favourite brands and find new ethical companies to support.
5. Find your style instead of following the trends
Our clothes can say so much about who we are. Constantly trying to keep up with the trends means having to change and adapt the way you express yourself based on what’s popular right now. Trends will always change, but once you find your true style, it can stay with you forever. Decide what outfits you feel best in, work with the clothes you own, and only buy something if you’re sure it will work with your wardrobe.
Have you tried to make more sustainable fashion choices?
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