AD – This post contains gifted items.
As evidenced in the archives of this blog, I used to be the kind of person that loved a good clothing haul. So I completely understand that it’s not easy to just suddenly stop buying things. But it’s definitely possible to adjust your habits and make more considered choices when buying clothes to turn your clothing collection into a sustainable wardrobe.
Shop with brands that are doing good things for the world:
In these photos I’m wearing a (gifted) jumper from TenTree. They’re a B Corp that plant ten trees for every item sold. They partner with charitable organisations around the world to get trees planted and rehabilitate natural ecosystems. Their clothes are made with organic cotton, recycled polyester and Tencel, all eco-friendly options. This adorable koala sweatshirt is part of the Australia capsule, all proceeds from which support the rehabilitation of Australia’s wildlife. A note on sizing, it’s already an oversized fit so don’t size up – I’m wearing an XS.
The other eco-friendly brand that I’m wearing is Bluebell Lane Jewellery. These (gifted) hoops are my new favourite item of jewellery. I’d been wanting a pair of hoop earrings but couldn’t find any I loved. Then I saw the square shapes and knew that this little difference was just what I was looking for. Bluebell Lane is a small British business that uses Ecosilver as well as all of the following:
- All packaging is recycled and can be recycled or composted
- Business cards are made out of recycled cotton t-shirts
- All scraps of silver are melted down to turn in to new pieces of jewellery, so nothing is ever wasted
- No harsh chemicals are used for cleaning
Definitely take a look at Ruth’s gorgeous designs!
If you’re wondering how to tell if a brand is doing their part, then just take a look at their website and social media. I’ve yet to come across an ethical brand that doesn’t make a point of mentioning their eco-credentials. Just watch out for green washing.
2. Wash less
Keep the clothes you have in good condition by caring for them properly. If you only wear things once and then throw them in the washing machine and tumble dryer then it’s probably time to re-think your laundry habits. Of course, some items should only be worn once before washing. But items like jeans and outer layers can generally stand to be worn several times before they need a wash. If you spill something then just spot clean that area when possible. Avoid using the tumble dryer as much as you can. Reducing the temperature of the wash, and the amount of times that you use it, will help your clothes last longer as well as reducing the impact you’re making on the planet.
3. Choose sustainable fabrics
There’s a lot to go into with this and a lot of variables so I do urge you to do some further research. Good On You have articles with the ins and outs of different fabrics and Besma has a really handy blog post on the topic. But as a very basic guide, look out for these materials:
Linen – one of the most biodegradable fabrics
GOTS certified cotton – GOTS certified fabrics are highly regulated through the entire supply chain. Only textile products that contain a minimum of 70% organic fibres can become GOTS certified.
Tree based fabrics – There are many fabrics made from tree pulp and this includes bamboo, lyocell, modal, tencel, rayon and viscose.
Undyed fabrics – The industrial dying process can be quite harmful with lots of chemicals used and lots and lots of water.
4. Don’t throw clothing away
It never occurred to me that people throw clothes literally in the bin until I went to uni and saw a housemate do it. Please don’t do this unless it’s absolutely necessary. I’ve always donated to charity shops or used fabric recycling banks. If you want to hold on to something but it doesn’t fit quite right, then try altering it. Having clothes tailored professionally tailored can make a huge difference too and isn’t that expensive if it’s something small like adjusting a hemline. The same goes for shoes, a lot of the time you can get them resoled and repaired.
Reducing the amount that you buy in the first place is the best way to reduce your clothing ‘waste’ as even donating things to charity shops they sometimes eventually end up in landfill if they don’t sell. You could also try selling items on eBay or Depop which usually guarantees it’s going to someone that actually wants it and it gives you a bit of extra cash.
5. Shop second hand
If you’re getting familiar with eBay and Depop as a seller (or even if you’re not) then start browsing as a buyer, too. Almost all of my clothing purchases in the last year have been second hand. It’s definitely the cheapest way to shop ethically and arguably the most sustainable way. I love browsing in charity shops and knowing that the money I spend in them helps out a good cause is even better.
Let me know your tips for making a more sustainable wardrobe!