10 Ways To Make Your Wardrobe More Sustainable

10 Ways To Make Your Wardrobe More Sustainable

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10 Ways To Make Your Wardrobe More Sustainable

While what we wear might not seem like a big deal, the clothing that we choose to buy—or not buy—does have an impact on the envi­ronment.

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, every single second the equivalent of one full garbage truck of textiles is either burned or dumped in a landfill. And beyond that, the fashion industry is a significant contributor to a host of environmental problems, including water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

“I think the key issue with the way that the fashion industry largely works now is the scale and speed,” says Elise Epp, the country coordinator for Fashion Revolution Canada, a nonprofit fashion activism organization. “The biggest solu­tion is slowing down. To me, slow fash­ion means taking a really intentional approach to the clothes that we own.”

To help you implement more sustain­ able practices into your own wardrobe, Epp shares her best tips, alongside Kelly Drennan, the founder of Canadian sus­tainable fashion nonprofit Fashion Takes Action. 

Here are 10 ways you can make your wardrobe more sustainable:

1. Start With a Closet audit

Sometimes we forget what clothing we already have, or we own pieces we never wear. As a result, Drennan recommends starting your journey with a closet audit to get the full picture. “We wear 20 per­ cent of our wardrobe 80 percent of the time,” she says. “See what’s already in your closet and write it down—how many pairs of jeans you have, how many hoodies, how many T­-shirts, dresses, whatever. It can really help you under­ stand how much you have.”


2. Shop Your Closet

Once you know what pieces you have, you can prioritize wearing them, espe­cially the ones you’d pushed to the back of your closet. “When people want to make their wardrobe more sustainable, they think of it like a shopping list. But it isn’t,” Epp says. Instead, Drennan notes that the most sustainable garment is the one you already own, which is why starting with an audit can help you reduce what you buy. “That’s when you can reacquaint yourself with garments you might have otherwise forgotten—you remind yourself why you bought them, and how they made you feel at the time," Drennan says.


3. Rent instead of Buy

Some special occasions you attend call for outfits you’re unlikely to wear again. If that’s the case, why not rent an outfit? Renting over buying not only saves you money, but also saves a new garment from languishing in your closet. “Be a part of the sharing economy for clothing, which works like Uber and Airbnb,” Drennan says. A quick online search can help you find a rental service that works for you, as many offer options for one­time rentals, long­term rentals and even rental subscription services.


4. Thrift It

Thrifting is in—and for good reason. Buying second­hand reduces the resources required to make new cloth­ ing and prevents waste by ensuring the item gets a second life. “Secondhand shopping—or even getting clothes from friends—is just really valuing the sort of resources, skill and effort that goes into creating clothes," Epp says.


5. Take Care and repair

Taking care of your clothing means a variety of things, like hanging items to dry so they don’t shrink, dealing with stains immediately and learning how to store your clothing better. You can take it a step further and learn to repair things, too. “Mend [your clothes] when they need it—if there’s a tear, patch it, or when a button falls off, sew it back on,” says Epp. You can even take clothes you love to get altered, if needed, help­ing to ensure you actually wear the gar­ment over time and extend its life.


6. Host a clothing swap

If you’re bored of what’s in your closet but don’t want to shop, consider a clothing swap. “Have all your friends over and ask them all to bring a few pieces they no longer wear. I’m sure everybody will go home happy with something that's new to them," Drennan says.


7. Look for natural fabrics

Much of our clothing is made from plastic derived from fossil fuels, including synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon. Instead, look for hemp, organic cotton or organic wool. Epp also recommends avoiding any sort of technical coating: “Anti-wrinkle, stain-resistant, water-resistant—those coatings are highly toxic, definitely to the people making the clothes, and there’s more research coming out that they’re also problematic for the people who are wearing those clothes."


8. Focus on quality and craftsmanship

When you do purchase something, make sure it’s a quality piece so that you don’t have to replace it sooner than you should. “Look for clothes that are going to last, that are the best quality you can afford,” says Epp. “You can find good- quality items at thrift stores and from small, sustainable brands.”


9. Educate yourself

If a brand makes claims about sustainability, dig a little deeper to confirm those claims are accurate before making your purchase. “Be skeptical of greenwashing,” Drennan says. “Until we actually have stricter guidelines, I think it’s important that we don’t take what a company says at face value. Look for some proof to back up any claims around sustainability.” For where to find sustainable brands, Drennan recommends checking out the Canadian company Shopwise, where you can shop online for clothing made by brands that have been vetted for sustainable and ethical requisites, like minimizing fabric waste and carbon offsetting.


10. Embrace the process

It’s important to recognize that making your closet more sustainable won’t happen overnight. “Perfection just doesn’t exist, right? Progress is what we need to be focusing on. We can’t beat ourselves up over the fact that our closets are not perfectly sustainable,” Drennan says. “But we have to also take those baby steps. Then eventually, collectively, it will all make a difference.” And lastly, Epp notes that we have to remember to enjoy the process, too: “Slow fashion isn’t all joyless; it isn’t about deprivation,” she says. “It’s about being joyful with the things that you have and really treasuring them.”




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10 Ways To Make Your Wardrobe More Sustainable