The fashion industry is known to be one of the most polluting industries in the world. So, on our journey to a more sustainable life, we need to take into consideration the impact our clothing has on the environment. There are many actions we can take to make our wardrobe more sustainable and ethical.
How are we shopping for clothes? How are we taking care of them? What are we doing with them at the end of their life?
I truly believe that implementing the tips I’m about to share with you can make a huge difference! It will help you reduce the footprint your wardrobe has on the planet.
Here is the complete guide about green fashion and how to make your wardrobe more sustainable!
Green fashion: How to make your wardrobe more sustainable
1 – Get as many wears from your clothes as possible
Many people wear their clothes less than 10 times and then throw them away. Some people even wear their clothing only once or twice.
The problem is that clothes are highly resource-intensive to produce. Their production requires enormous quantities of water.
Did you know that we need 20,000 liters (5,283 gallons) of water to create one t-shirt and one pair of jeans?
So limiting the number of clothes you buy every year is a great way to save water and help conserve this precious resource!
The clothing industry is responsible for 20% of the world’s wastewater and 10% of total carbon emissions. This makes it one of the most polluting industries in the world.
Not to mention that to grow cotton crops, many pesticides and chemicals are spread into the environment. As a result, local populations suffer from high cancer rates and deaths.
So we mustn’t take our clothes for granted. We should use and appreciate every single piece as much as we can.
Even if those clothes are fast fashion, try to get full use out of them. The damage has already been done when buying the item.
The best thing you can do, once you already own fast-fashion pieces, is to wear them until they are no longer wearable.
2 – Analyze your clothing style and stick to it while shopping
A big step to having a sustainable wardrobe is to understand which clothes you wear and which you don’t.
By knowing this, it will be easier for you not to make any mistakes while shopping for clothes. So you won’t be buying any clothes that you won’t be wearing.
You’ll only be purchasing pieces that are your style and that fit you, that you’re going to wear for years. Go into detail while analyzing your clothing.
What colors do you love? What size and cut fit you best? Do you like patterns? Next time you’ll need to buy an item of clothing, you’ll know exactly which pieces will go with your closet.
I also highly advise you to assess which type of clothes you need to buy and which you don’t. Try to only buy the clothes that you need.
Avoid buying duplicate items, except if you know you are going to wear them for sure. Make sure that you see yourself wearing them countless times.
By knowing exactly what you need next time you’re shopping, you will be able to quickly see if the piece you want is there.
Don’t buy “second-best” options because chances are you aren’t going to wear them very often.
How do you feel while wearing this piece? Does it correspond to the rest of your wardrobe? How versatile is it? Patiently wait for the exact piece you want.
3 – Second-hand shopping
Once you know what clothes you need to buy, I think that the most eco-friendly way to shop is to buy second-hand clothes.
I wrote an entire article about the environmental benefits of buying things second-hand! You should check it out!
You can do this online, there are many websites out there where you can buy used clothes. eBay, Poshmark, Vinted, Depop, Facebook Marketplace…
Going to garage sales is a great option as well and maybe the cheapest, if you find what interests you.
A third alternative is charity and thrift shops. It helps the local community since your money goes to a great cause and stays within your city and its surroundings.
Those second-hand stores get so many donations! The problem is that they get so many that they are often compelled to throw these extra things away because they don’t have any place to put them.
So when people give their things to thrift stores, chances are that some of these items might directly end up in landfills.
There is a huge waste, so buying clothes from these shops prevents those things from getting trashed. In a way, you are supporting green fashion.
And you can get amazing deals at thrift shops compared to if you bought the item new!
Second-hand shopping will save you a ton of money while trying to be more sustainable and ethical with your wardrobe.
My favorite part about buying second-hand is that you can find unique pieces that are no longer being produced.
I also wanted to say that it is okay to buy fast fashion brands second-hand. The item has already been bought and you are not giving your money to the fast fashion industry.
4 – Quit fast fashion
There are so many controversies out there about fast fashion companies. For many reasons, I think we should all stop shopping at fast fashion brands.
These companies want to produce as many clothes as possible in a short timeframe. As a result, clothes end up being poor quality and only last for a few seasons at most.
While several decades ago, companies used to produce clothes that lasted for 10 or 20 years… Now, clothes that you buy from fast fashion brands are meant to be thrown away quickly so that consumers buy new pieces again.
This is how these companies make money. Their marketing techniques are triggering consumers to make them want to buy more and more.
Fashion brands are creating new collections every single week to make us feel like we don’t have enough clothes or that our pieces are outdated.
As a result, we might want to update our clothes and our “old” clothes end up unused or worse, thrown away.
Shopping at fast fashion brands is a wasteful practice and is bad for the environment. As I said earlier, the production process is highly resource-intensive and polluting.
But this industry is also negatively impacting workers in poor countries where the production takes place.
Human rights aren’t respected and working conditions put thousands of lives at risk.
In 2013, a sweatshop collapsed in Bangladesh, killing more than a thousand people, mostly women, and children.
On top of that, factory workers often don’t have enough money to provide for their families.
There is one last thing I want to add about fast fashion. Companies are producing so many clothes that they often send the excess to developing countries, where it kills the local clothing industry.
These are many reasons why we should give up fast fashion shopping!
If you want to learn more on the topic, read my blog post about why you should quit fast fashion and how to do it.
5 – Support sustainable brands and green fashion
Sometimes, second-hand shopping isn’t successful for you. Maybe, you cannot find what you’re looking for second-hand. Or maybe you’re looking for underwear, which I highly advise you to get new.
In this case, try to look for sustainable brands because they are producing good quality and ethical clothing.
Workers have good and safe working conditions, the production process requires to use fewer chemicals, and overall, the materials are better.
As a whole, green fashion and pieces of clothing produced by sustainable brands are better quality and last for a long time.
Green fashion may be more expensive but I think it is worth the money in the long run. You don’t have to constantly buy new pieces because they don’t get worn out as easily.
You will also take better care of these clothing items, and will deeply think about the purchase. You’ll make sure that it isn’t an impulse buy, so you’ll be more likely to wear it.
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6 – Prefer natural fabrics over synthetics
Numerous materials that are used to produce clothes are bad for the environment.
When we are washing synthetic fabrics, like polyester, nylon, or acrylic, we’re accidentally releasing microplastics into the water.
These are tiny particles of plastic that end up polluting our oceans and threatening wildlife.
Also, those synthetic fabrics are made from petrochemicals which aren’t ideal for the environment either.
For those reasons, I think we should all avoid synthetic fabrics in our wardrobes. Recycled polyester can be a better alternative but it can still release microplastics.
So, if you want to have a more sustainable wardrobe, try to only buy natural materials, like cotton, linen, hemp, or bamboo.
As I said in a previous tip, the production of cotton intensively uses chemicals and pesticides, so try to only buy organic cotton.
Leather is a natural fabric but it isn’t eco-friendly because its production requires the use of chromium which is highly toxic.
The great thing about natural fabrics is that they are biodegradable. They won’t end up polluting the Earth for centuries, and they are a lot less resource-intensive.
Also, choose clothing that is 100% produced in a single material, because these clothes are easier to recycle at the end of their life.
7 – Eco-friendly laundry routine
When they’re trying to have a more sustainable wardrobe, people often overlook the impact of how they wash and dry their clothes.
Many people wash their clothing after only one use, but I don’t understand why. If the item of clothing isn’t smelly or dirty, I recommend that you don’t wash it immediately and that you wear it again.
Of course, I’m not talking about underwear. But try wearing these clothes at least one more time.
I wear my clothes a couple of times before I wash them. Believe me, they last me a lot longer than if I washed them after every use.
It is also super important to use a natural eco-friendly laundry detergent to not add any chemicals into the water streams and our clothes.
You can either buy one or make your own DIY laundry detergent with a few simple ingredients.
Washing your clothes at a lower temperature is another great tip. It saves electricity as well as makes your clothes last a lot longer.
Also, don’t forget to run your washing machine on a full load!
After washing your clothes, air dry them if you can instead of throwing them in the dryer. Did you know that dryers are one of the most energy-intensive appliances in homes?
In Europe, the majority of households air-dry their clothes. I love the smell of air-dried clothes, it is so refreshing! Why don’t you give it a try?
8 – Give a new life to your clothes
Did you know that 80% of textile waste ends up in landfills? It is really sad and I think it is easy to prevent it from happening.
So, a final tip I want to highlight is to try to give a new life to your clothes. I mean that in many ways.
Find a new home for your unused clothes, by either donating or selling them. Someone may get a lot more use out of them.
Repair the ones that get small holes in them, but that are still wearable. It will make them last longer, and you’ll save money in the process.
There are many tutorials online and on Youtube on how to sew, it is really easy!
Another great way to give a new life to your old clothes is to upcycle them by giving them a new purpose.
You can turn a t-shirt into a reusable bag, use an old sock for dusting or cut your jeans into shorts or rags.
And at the end of your clothes’ life, try to recycle them. In France where I live, there are many bins in which we can put our worn-out clothes, to send them to recycling facilities.
They’re turned into new things such as rags for mechanics or isolation materials, which is amazing!
If you don’t have any recycling bins in your area, recycling centers often accept clothes, depending on where you live.
I also know that some retailers have donation programs where you can leave your unwanted clothing.
Here you have my complete guide about how to make your wardrobe more sustainable!
I hope you find this guide about green fashion helpful and that you’ve learned new things along the way.
I’m sure that if you start implementing these tips, you’ll be able to highly reduce the footprint your clothes have on the Earth.
This complete guide about green fashion should help you learn how to make your wardrobe more sustainable and ethical.
What are your favorite tips to be more eco-friendly with your clothing?
Let us know in the comments!