No More Fast Fashion: Tips for Creating a Sustainable Wardrobe
Climate change is a global phenomenon. People are experiencing damage to coastlines due to rising sea levels, health conditions caused by pollution, and the loss of crops as a result of rising temperatures. According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2023 ranks among the top five warmest years in history, and these hot temperatures can continue to increase in the coming decades.
The science of climate change is clear. The solid waste currently piled in landfills is releasing methane and nitrous oxide into the atmosphere. As communities experience the impact of climate change first hand, many people are looking for ways to reduce their waste and live sustainably.
One eco-friendly choice you can make is creating a sustainable wardrobe. By avoiding fast fashion, an individual can reduce their yearly waste significantly and work to create a healthier planet.
What is Fast Fashion?
In the past two decades, global fabric production has increased significantly, creating the ‘fast fashion’ industry. This industry is built on the mass-production of low-quality clothing based on passing trends. Fast fashion can be seen across social media, and with every new season and trend, there is a wave of new, ‘must-have’ items to add to your wardrobe.
Fast fashion provides incredibly affordable and trendy clothing, but it also creates unsustainable environmental damage.
Creating a Sustainable Wardrobe
Rejecting fast fashion means embracing sustainability. If you are looking to create a more sustainable wardrobe, you will need to ask yourself some important questions, assess your priorities, and change your habits.
What’s In Your Closet?
Creating a sustainable wardrobe starts with organizing your current collection of clothing. Empty your closet and dresser and create two piles of clothing: the clothes you will keep and the clothes you will resell or donate.
As you sort through your clothes, take note of the materials. Clothing made with natural materials, like cotton and linen, are built to last a long time. Keeping these natural clothing items can help you to reduce your waste moving forward.
What Are Your Shopping Habits?
Once you’ve sorted your clothing, it is time to assess your shopping habits. Eco-friendly clothing choices include:
Buying fewer, brand-new clothes: Thrift stores, local markets, and clothing swaps are great ways to buy high-quality, affordable clothing without contributing to the production of new items.
Investing in quality pieces: Fast fashion is inexpensive at checkout, but these products deteriorate quickly and become unwearable waste. Spend some time looking for clothing made with natural, durable fabrics to avoid paying for replacements every few months.
Ditching trends: Fashion trends come and go, so instead of trying to fit in with every passing fad, express your own unique style! Finding timeless pieces that express your own personal style will help you to feel confident and to avoid unnecessary purchases.
By changing how you shop, you can limit the environmental impact of your clothing.
How Can You Make Mindful Clothing Choices?
As you begin adding items to your sustainable wardrobe, it is important to be mindful of your choices. Before heading to the store or searching for your favorite online shop, try conducting a bit of research about fabrics and brands that are eco-friendly, ethical, and sustainable.
Studies show that fast fashion clothing typically lasts less than 10 wears. These items are made with fabrics that are not made to last. When shopping, try looking for natural, long-lasting fabrics such as wool, silk, help, and cotton. These materials are biodegradable, so when they do eventually wear out, they can be disposed of in eco-friendly ways.
Taking the time to learn more about sustainability and fashion is a fantastic way to reduce unnecessary purchases at checkout and unnecessary waste over the years.
Caring for Your Clothing
Once you have built a sustainable wardrobe, you have to maintain it. These items have been mindfully chosen, and now they need to be cared for in order to reduce waste.
Washing: When washing your clothes, it is important to pay attention to your washing methods, detergent, and water, all of which can impact the longevity of your clothes. For example, hard water has a high mineral content that can damage your clothes and impact a fabric’s color and texture. A water softener reduces this chemical content and can help your clothing and washing machine last longer. If you are hand-washing your clothing, a reverse osmosis system can be easily installed under your sink to remove pesticides and heavy metals.
Drying: While dryers are convenient and fast, they also cause clothing to deteriorate quickly. Hang-drying your clothes is a slower process, but it can help reduce damage to your clothes and your energy bill.
Mending: There are sustainable and creative ways to repair damaged clothes. Buttons can be replaced and sewn back on, tears can be patched and mended, and stains can be embroidered and made beautiful. This practice can save you money, reduce textile waste, and give you an opportunity to learn new skills and express yourself.
By investing in UV water treatment systems or picking up a needle and thread, you are taking a step towards a more sustainable lifestyle, with the added bonus of spending a few more years wearing your favorite sweater.
Benefits of Caring for a Sustainable Wardrobe
Buying and caring for eco-friendly clothing has a variety of benefits. Sustainable wardrobes can save you money long-term, support ethical practices in the fashion industry, and reduce waste and pollution.
While sustainable items made from natural materials are often more expensive, these items are also long-lasting when compared to fast fashion clothing.
By buying fewer items, and buying clothes made from natural materials, consumers are able to spend less money creating a fashionable wardrobe.
Supporting Ethical Fashion Practices
There are many companies, organizations, and individuals around the world who are working to engage with the fashion and textile industry in ethical and sustainable ways.
In Canada, entrepreneurs are developing online thrift stores as a way to bring convenience to ethical fashion. Supporting slow fashion brands also helps to support ethical labor practices. Fast fashion corporations have become notorious for paying textile workers the bare minimum and creating unhealthy working conditions.
By choosing to support sustainable and ethical clothing brands, you are contributing to the creation of a more ethical fashion industry.
Building a Better Future for Our Planet
Sustainable living is built on small actions that are taken every day. Mending a coat instead of buying a new one—that is one small step that has long-lasting benefits for communities and future generations.