Six Ways to Make Your Wardrobe More Sustainable
The production of an average t-shirt uses 2700 liters of water. That statistic alone is pretty mind-blowing, even before you consider the toxic chemicals, human exploitation and carbon emissions required before a cotton plant can end up as piece of clothing in your closet.
Add to that the pressure from the so-called fast fashion industry to constantly discard and replace our clothes each season in order to stay “in style”. Not only do we lose precious natural resources in this process, but also our money, time, individuality and arguably our sanity!
While it’s impossible to make your wardrobe more sustainable overnight, there are several things you can do to start improving it bit by bit. Below are six simple tips.
1. Choose quality over quantity
Instead of buying 10 cheap things that will fall apart, why not buy 1-2 quality pieces that will last a lifetime? Your closet will be more sophisticated, you will consistently look better, and you’ll lose less time in the morning choosing what to wear. Quality means made with durable natural materials or sustainable textiles, or handmade with quality craftsmanship. Though it may cost more to start with, its longer lifespan will save you money in the long run.
2. Explore vintage (or plain ol’ second hand) options
By helping keep clothes out of landfills, vintage and second hand are arguably the best options when it comes to sustainable fashion, after buying nothing. They give you a lot of variety, the opportunity to find something really unique, and are usually cheaper than buying new.
3. Make or buy upcycled clothes
Upcycled clothing is remade from old stuff, for example bags made from old jeans or earrings made from old computer parts. You can learn to do it yourself with the help of YouTube and a little creative googling (for example, there’s lots of inspiration on Pinterest), or you could try out a sewing workshop. If DIY isn’t your thing, several brands in Prague offer ready made upcycled clothes and accessories.
4. Buy local
Some things, including underwear, are better bought new. In these cases, you can start by looking for local options, made in your country (in our case, the Czech Republic) or region, meaning they require less carbon emissions from transportation. Clothing transported long distances is often sprayed with formaldehyde to keep it from wrinkling, which is another reason to avoid clothes with long transportation times. Locally made clothing is also less likely to come from a sweat shop.
5. Investigate the sustainability of your favorite big brands
If the item you’re looking isn’t yet made locally, you might have to buy from a global brand. A lot of big brands are claiming to be conscious or sustainable, but how can we really know if it’s true? While figuring out what goes on behind such big companies is a tricky business, we found a great tool called Rankabrand, which uses a combination of an in-house ranking system as well as user reviews to give brands a sustainability score. Global brands have the power to transform the whole industry in a positive way, but currently we only see a few brands that seem to be really committed to sustainability, including Patagonia and People Tree (sold at NILA in Prague).
6. Take care of your stuff
If we took better care of our clothes they would last much longer and wouldn’t have to be discarded and replaced as frequently. Taking better care includes following the garment’s care instructions, washing at a lower temperature and line-drying. How you store your clothes and shoes also makes a difference (e.g. this article). The bottom line is, take care of your stuff and you won’t need to buy as much.
See the Fashion & Design section of our site for a list of conscious places to shop!
How about you, have any other tips for achieving a sustainable wardrobe?