So you’ve read a few articles, maybe your eco-loving friend told you shocking details about the fashion industry, or you watched a documentary, and now you want to transition into a sustainable wardrobe. Number one, go you! It’s the small changes every day in our lives that make a bigger impact on the world. Number two, you’re probably wondering where to start. Do you toss out anything that says ‘Forever 21’ on it and only shop at places like Reformation or Everlane? How do you move forward as a consumer in the fashion industry and make more ethical choices? Well, good thing I have done this transition myself and can guide you through this potentially confusing time. Just remember that making more eco-conscious decisions in our lives is great, and we need to take it one step at a time. There is no perfect journey, and anything you are doing to help our planet is greatly appreciated. Now let’s get to the ways we can do this!
Know Your “Why”
Before we hold each item of clothing we own to find out whether it sparks joy or not, we need to have a ‘why.’ The ‘why’ is extremly important because it will be your compass from this point forward. I get a lot of questions from friends who are trying to be more sustainable about the items they already have. Our goal as sustainable consumers is to need less, ask for less, and make what is on this earth last, and live a long life. So if you already have a black blazer from a fast fashion company that you purchased a year ago, don’t worry. Tossing it out will just end up in the landfill, and that would defeat the purpose wouldn’t it? Take a moment to ask yourself why you are doing this. What are you doing this for? What do you hope to gain from this new lifestyle change? Write this down, and refer back to this when you are tempted for the easier way out.
De-Clutter Your Closet
So this is actually my favorite part because inside this free-spirited, creative, emotional soul, is someone who loves to clean, organize and get shit done (for myself and yes, for other people.) I can’t help but walk into people’s home and think about how I could clean it, organize their items and make their space more functional and enjoyable. The same can be said about a wardrobe. Lay all of your items out by their category: top, bottom, dresses, outerwear, etc… Go through each item and remember you are condensing. You are trying to only keep items you love and intend on having for a long time. If something doesn’t fit or represent you anymore, toss it in a donation/sell pile. What’s incredible about this step is that it’s also a great way to define who we are as people a bit more. If you’re a casual person, you probably won’t have a ton of dresses or suits in your wardrobe. If you’re a boss who runs a business every day, then maybe those slacks should stay. Create a pile of items you are donating (preferably to a homeless shelter that will give to those in need), and a pile of items you plan on selling. You can go to your local resale clothing store, or try selling them online through sites like Depop or Poshmark.
Where To Shop For New Clothes
At this point, you’ve probably gotten rid of a ton of clothes and possibly made some money while doing it. Good for you. Now, don’t get into a habit of looking at the empty spaces in your closet as room to fill. We don’t want to always need everything we see, but more importantly the items we love and will keep for a long time. But if you are going to shop for new clothes, there are so many ways to do this without harming our beautiful planet. The first way, thrift shopping. Sustainable fashion thrives in the thrifting world! What’s great about going thrifting is that it’s usually the most affordable option to buying new clothes for your wardrobe, but it’s also giving clothing another life. By doing this we are telling major corporations, they don’t need to make as many clothes new clothes because we care more about making clothes cycle through many lives before leaving our lives. The next way is to shop with sustainable brands. There are so many brands out there from Reformation, Everlane, People Tree, to more affordable places like Depop, Thred Up, and Poshmark.
There are so many ways we can reuse the items we already have, even the items that don’t fit us anymore. Turn an old tee shirt into a reusable grocery bag. Buy some beeswax and cut up old sheets and make your own wax food wraps. Repair jeans with a hole, or hem your sweaters that have stretched in the wash. My favorite way of reusing something I have in my wardrobe both for my life and my style is with cute canvas tote bags. Where would sustainable fashion be withouth canvas totes?! I like to use them as an every bag purse (it can fit a ton of stuff in there), and also as my grocery bag. I love to keep an extra one folded up inside my tote bag in case I go shopping or pick up some fresh flowers on my way home. This keeps from using single-use plastic bags. Viola! Here’s what Michelle Montes *our sustainable queen* said about her transition into a more sustainable lifestyle. “My love for the environment & animals is what led me to switch to a more sustainable lifestyle. After learning about the “zero-waste” movement back at the beginning of last year, I knew right away I wanted to play a part in making our planet a cleaner & safer place for all species! My biggest tip for those who are interested in transitioning to a more sustainable lifestyle is to start small. No one can become zero-waste overnight, so little changes go a long way! Every day I learn more ways in which I can make a bigger impact & it makes me so inspired to keep making changes that I know will help our surroundings. Knowing that I’m doing everything I can for the environment is so rewarding & I wouldn’t want to have it any other way!”
There Is No Such Thing As Perfect Sustainability
As you start your journey to a more sustainable wardrobe, you might not always do things by the “book” (whatever that means.) That’s okay though. The important thing is that you’re trying, you’re aware, and the little things you have started to do are making a difference…even if you don’t see it. Over time, this will get easier, and hopefully, you’ll find people around you who are doing the same thing. Go thrifting together! Dedicate a weekend to upcycle your old clothes. Donate the items you’re not wearing to a local homeless shelter…together. That way you don’t feel alone, and you’re getting better every day!
Now you have all the tips, tools, and knowledge to transition your wardrobe into a sustainable one. There’s no excuse now. It’s spring, so it’s the perfect time to get rid of the old and start new habits that are good for your wallet, and our planet. If you have done any of these, or how other tips to share, leave them in the comments below. We would love to hear from you!
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Amanda Smith is a freelance writer, social media + branding specialist, and all around fashionista. She loves writing about fashion, beauty, wellness, and career advice. Her dream is to turn her own personal brand into a fulltime business where she can create content, products, and all sorts of media that inspires young women around the world. In her free time she loves to thrift, drink coffee, practice film photography, travel, get outside, and make content for her blog. You can usually find her staying in on a Friday night with a face mask, cuddling up to a puppy she's sitting, and watching Youtube videos.