build a sustainable wardrobe

A Handy Guide on How To Shop Sustainably For Clothes

We are now aware that “fast fashion” is not sustainable, so we have to find ways to shop for clothing that are sustainable. First and foremost, look for pre-owned, pre-loved, pre-bought and paid for. Pre-loved clothing is not new, it has been owned. It may have been worn but perhaps not. There can be all sorts of names applied to these clothes, but with a careful eye and a quick try-on, you can decide.

As a child, I often had hand-me-downs. As my older sister grew out of clothes, I grew into these same clothes. Now I cannot say I really liked having her clothes. But if you go to a sustainable clothing store, you get to chose from a wide selection. Well-known brand names that originally come with a big price tag can also be found in these stores, many never worn or soiled.

With this action, you know that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint on the land. You are protecting our natural environment from continued over-production of new clothes, and taking a stand against child labour in the clothing industry.

ecofriendly clothing


How to Build a Sustainable Wardrobe

There are easy steps you can take to build a sustainable wardrobe. First and foremost, be bold and visit a pre-owned store which could be called a thrift shop, consignment store, vintage, retro, period and even be available through online resale websites.

The best advice: Buy less, but buy wisely. Chose what looks good and fits you. Avoid traps such as choosing something you wish you could wear but never will, or even worse, will never fit into. Carefully chose garments that can be mixed and matched with other items you already own. The final touch is to accessorize with a scarf or a necklace which can give you a stylish look.

We all need to be astute and weary of sale gimmicks like “buy 2 and get a 3rd for 50% less” when you really only wanted one item in the first place. Apply a self-check. Question your decision and be honest. Are you purchasing because of a need, or because of a ‘great deal’ where you end up spending far more than you intended.

Buy locally, from craftspeople or even from tailors. Tailor-made means it’s made especially for you. Fits you, suits you, your choice. Now not all of us live in communities that have professional tailors at affordable rates. This varies across the globe.

Other things to consider are the type of fabrics you chose to wear. This is a long-standing debate over natural fibers versus synthetic fabrics. Thinking of our environment, then avoid materials made from petroleum. That’s right, from fossil fuel origins such as polyester, nylon, acrylic and even spandex.  These can be hard decisions. Longer lasting fabrics that are natural include cotton, linen, bamboo, flax, jute, silk, wool and alpaca. These were the prime cloth of classic garments in the past, and can still be so into the future.

green clothing

You will also recognise that natural fibres are often the type of garments one finds on travel in bazaars and markets. Ethnic clothe are made from natural fibres. Stores such as “Trade Aid” on your High Street are purchasing from indigenous people across the globe. This is another great way to support developing nations and secure an income source for the local people.

If you have the passion and genuine commitment to sustainability, you can research and identify ethical production lines and brands. By this, you identify brands that chose to protect the environment, such as not using fertilizers and pesticides that are by-products of the fossil fuel industries. These brands need to also provide acceptable working conditions for the workers, as well as paying a fare wage so the individuals can have a better standard of living.

build a sustainable wardrobe

You need to research the complete supply chain. But these days, good brands that are responsible will be more transparent and make this information available across the internet. This approach allows the buyer to help protect the environment and better the lives of the workers in the field and in the factory before reaching the retail stores across the globe.

There really are so many ways to change your way of shopping for clothes that are sustainable, far better for the environment, and also impact the people involved in the process and production line, that you can really feel good about your buying habits. All it takes is a change of attitude, and the adoption of an all-round caring attitude in what you spend you money on.

Claire Cosgrove

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