For many people, the clothes they wear are an important part of their self-expression. Fashion is a way for them to show their personality and their preferred styles. However, while fashion and its trends are fun to explore, it’s important to note that the fashion industry’s effects go beyond purchasing a fun addition to your wardrobe.
Around 92 million tons of textile waste are made globally each year. Imagine: that’s 92 million tonnes of unwanted and discarded clothes that go into garbage patches, landfills, and the ocean, which can significantly impact the environment. And anything that affects the environment also impacts the creatures who live in it, including human beings.
While textile pollution cannot be solved overnight, there are ways that you, as the average consumer, can help address the problem. By practicing sustainable shopping habits and building an eco-friendly closet, you can take baby steps to caring for the environment without sacrificing your need for self-expression. To start, here is an easy guide that you can use to create an eco-friendly wardrobe.
Step #1 – What are the Things You Have to Consider?
Let’s start with a pressing question: What makes a sustainable wardrobe? There are three general factors that you have to consider:
Some textiles are more environmentally-friendly than others. Natural fibers, for example, will break down naturally over time while synthetic fibers will stay around for hundreds of years before decomposing. This is why buying cotton leggings is a more ecologically sound purchase than one made of synthetic fibers alone.
This careful examination of materials also extends to brands. In recent years, more brands have started using sustainable and recycled materials to create their products. They also implement sound labor practices in their production chain so that workers are protected and fairly paid. By supporting these brands, you will help them continue their mission and push for a more socially-responsible textile industry.
Number of Purchases and Clothes
Most people end up buying a lot of clothes and piling them up or discarding them later on without maximizing their use. Hence, it goes to say that the more apparel you buy, the more likely that some of these purchases will end up in a landfill somewhere. Hence, you must also stay on top of your wardrobe inventory and keep track of your spending habits.
Step #2 – Reframe Your Mindset
Building an eco-friendly wardrobe may sound easy, but old habits can die hard. Hence, for your closet to become more sustainable, you need to align your mindset toward more ecologically sound ideas. By doing so, you will have an easier time opting for environmentally-friendly options.
Firstly, clothes should not be meant for one-time use. With the different kinds of apparel so widely available, you may feel the urge to buy clothes just for the sake of trying new trends and not because you have a garment that needs replacement. This kind of behavior can result in buyer’s remorse and in unwanted clothes that are chucked into the trash. Instead, think of clothes as your investment where you will use them for a longer period. Before purchasing, ask yourself if you can envision still wearing the same pieces in the next few years. Buy the item only if you can honestly answer yes, otherwise remove it from your shopping cart. By using this mindset, you’re more likely to be careful about what you add to your closet and avoid chasing after sales and last-minute buys. You also make the most of your resources and prolong your wardrobe’s life cycle.
Step #3 – Study Your Wardrobe
It’s time to put your new fashion worldview into practice. People tend to buy a lot of clothes, but some don’t realize that they already have all the apparel they need. Hence, make sure to organize your current closet first before thinking of adding anything new. Put everything on your bed or the floor (if needed) and sort clothing items into groups: Keep, Repurpose, and Donate.
Keep refers to clothes that you wear a lot, plan to wear soon, and sentimental items (e.g. wedding dress). Meanwhile, place clothes that are torn, dirty, or stained in Repurpose. You can still use them as dish rags or sew them into a quilt if you wish. The last category is Donate. These are clothes that are still in good shape but no longer plan to use so it’s best to send them to new homes.
Step #4 – Build a Capsule Wardrobe
A capsule wardrobe is essentially a curated set of clothes that fits you well. Not a lot of people realize this, but building a capsule wardrobe is extremely empowering. You are not only actively choosing clothes that match your body and vibe best, but you are also taking control of your resources by knowing which types of clothes to invest in. After all, when you know what suits you, you’ll be less inclined to join a temporary trend or purchase clothes on a whim. In this manner, you can buy fewer clothes and opt for great pieces that will last you for a long time instead.
When creating your eco-friendly capsule wardrobe, the best guide is your body. Choose clothes that look flattering on your body shape and highlight your best features. These are clothes that you instinctively feel good in, so trust your gut.
Versatility is another important factor that you have to consider when picking clothes to add to your capsule wardrobe. You should be able to easily mix and match different pieces, enabling you to create new looks even if you’re just wearing the same few items.
Of course, you can rotate your capsule wardrobe as needed, especially when the seasons change and you need to dress warmer or cooler. However, it’s best to limit the total number of items in your closet so that your collection doesn’t get out of hand. To spruce up your look, buy a couple of seasonal pieces you can switch in and out of, depending on the time of the year.
Step #5 – Shop at Thrift Stores
If you find your closet short of some clothes, one eco-friendly way to purchase new apparel is to shop for them in thrift stores. Not only are the clothes usually more affordable, but vintage pieces are typically made with better quality compared to mass-produced apparel. It’s a win-win situation for your wardrobe and pocket.
Step #6 – Rent Clothes for Special Events
When it comes to special occasions like weddings and reunions), consider renting an outfit rather than buying a new one. In this manner, you don’t have to spend too much money to buy clothes for an event that happens infrequently. Many clothing stores offer rent services both in-store and online, so a simple online search can give you several rental options in your area.
Step #7 – Take Care of the Clothes You Have
Remember, your clothes are investments so they need the right care if you want them to last longer. Start by always checking the care instructions on the garment. Some clothes are delicate and need to be hand washed or are dry clean only. If your clothes get stained, address the stain immediately, so it doesn’t stick and ruin the piece forever. Fold your clothes properly or put them on hangers to help them keep their shape. While these are small acts of care, your closet contents may be able to last you for years.
Conclusion: Baby Steps Can Go a Long Way
Building an eco-friendly closet is not easy. It requires you to reevaluate your spending habits and become more aware of the production needed to create clothes. While it may be difficult at the start, developing a habit for the ecologically sound option becomes easier the more you practice it. Start your journey today, one step at a time.
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Hello! I am Camille, a wife, mother of four, Disney obsessed, certified teacher, and reality optimist. Motherhood comes with its ups and downs, and I hope while you’re here you’ll find something that makes your #momlife easier!