10 Ways to Green Your Wardrobe
It's been almost a year since I started my fast fashion fast, Make Thrift Mend, and I'm still so passionate about this project. Today I want to offer you 10 ways to deepen your connection to sustainable fashion. 10 ways to slow down your buying habits and consider slow fashion. I've created a list of 10 Ways to Green Your Wardrobe, but of course there are many more than 10 ways to embrace sustainability in our wardrobes. This is just my own personal list right here, right now. I'm sure in another few months this list could be revised. But here are 10 ways you can help right now:
1. Mend your clothes. Instead of buying anything new mend the clothes you already own. Keep them in good repair. Fix buttons. Mend hems. Patch or darn holes before they get worse. Maintaining your clothing is important for their longevity. Using what you have right now is better than buying something new. You reduce your need for new resources and extend the life of your garments. Gather your friends and host a mending circle too. That makes it even more fun.
2. Host a clothing swap. Invite friends to join you. Only bring clothes that are in good condition, quality buys, and would really serve someone's wardrobe. Bring the clothing you'd feel really good about passing on to a friend. Then provide simple refreshments, arrange clothes by type (pants in one pile, sweaters in another) and play some good music for you and your friends. Anything that doesn't find a new home can be donated to Goodwill.
3. Buy used clothing. It's the simple law of supply and demand--if we are donating clothing to our local charity shops but not buying clothing from our charity shops there is simply too much supply and not enough demand. Sadly, most of what we donate will not find a new home and instead it will be shipped overseas, bailed and stored in a warehouse, or added to the landfill. Buy used clothing. You'll be amazed at what you might find. Think of it as treasure hunting.
4. Make your own clothes. Choose simple patterns and commit to making more of your own clothing. Choose materials that are sustainable, wearable, and that fit into your everyday attire. You'll learn so much about garment construction, you'll reduce so many steps in the fast fashion cycle, and you'll be more likely to keep that garment for a very long time. If you're intimidated, grab a friend and sign-up for a sewing class online or in-person. You can do it!
5. Buy less, buy better. Okay, if we have to talk about buying new clothing let's talk about what clothing. It's true--if we buy quality clothing upfront we'll be less likely to toss it aside when the season's trend changes, we'll be more likely to care for it while it ages, and we'll be more likely to wear it longer. No fast fashion trend is sustainable. It's designed to be replaced next season (sometimes the exact same garment will just be offered in different colors). Buy something you really need and buy higher quality. Less is more.
6. Buy organic cotton. The amount of water and pesticides used in most conventional cotton farms is truly horrific. Support organic cotton farmers and use your dollars to tell the industry that you are willing to pay more money to reduce pesticides, reduce water usage, and provide farmers with better health conditions. Not to mention, do you really want all those pesticides in your closet? Organic does make a difference.
7. Buy natural materials. It takes far less water and pesticides to raise flax (for linen) and sheep (for wool) than it does to raise conventional cottons. There are many companies using recycled synthetics in their new clothing and it's important to support their efforts too. The journey from farm to closet is a very long journey for most of our wardrobes--complete with inhumane working conditions along the way. So consider the resources needed to grow the fibers. We don't need to overwhelm our closets with petrochemicals that don't biodegrade. Buy natural materials instead--read those labels.
8. Support sustainable fashion designers. Research makers, designers, crafters, and any independent fashion label working towards sustainability. Search Etsy. Ask your local fabric shop. Ask your local boutiques. Search online. There are more options to buy directly from the designer, to work with a local seamstress, or to find something handmade online now than ever before. Utilize these resources. Support the community of independent makers trying to forge a more sustainable future. Also, support fair trade clothing too.
9. Consider your laundry. Can you do fewer loads of laundry? Wash more garments with cold water? Wear your jeans a few more times before they end up in the hamper? Do you have space for a drying rack or a clothesline to reduce the energy needed for your dryer? Think about how we wear our winter coats--we wear them all winter long and might just wash them once a season. There might be other opportunities to reduce our clothing resources at homes too.
10. Educate yourself. There are so many amazing artists, authors, designers, organizations and publications sharing information about sustainable fashion and alternatives to the fast fashion industry. I've amassed quite a resource list over on my Make Thrift Mend website. But if you are only going to read one book, I'd suggest you read Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. Or do you have 38 minutes to listen to her amazing interview on Fresh Air? Click the "listen" button here. And if you want a few more ideas check out this list or this one too.
As one of my environmental studies professors in college told me, "Focus on what you can do to make a difference, not on what you can't." Imagine what an impact we could have on fast fashion if we each just focused on what we could do to make a difference. It gives me goosebumps it's so exciting.
Thanks for following my journey, friends.