During the last few decades, we’ve witnessed a huge shift in the market. As production and consumption go up, quality inevitably goes down… Phones, cars and clothes are made to be used for a short period of time, and as consumers, we need to update them more frequently. There’s no reason to manufacture goods that last for decades: most of them are meant to be thrown away and replaced within a couple of years.
The fashion industry is no stranger to this trend. Nowadays, ‘fast fashion’ is king. After all, who doesn’t love getting something new in their wardrobe? However, we must bear in mind that this is also one of the most polluting industries. Every piece of clothing that is manufactured has an impact on the environment.
So, what can we do to reduce our impact without losing the joy of dressing up?
1. Change your mentality
This is the first step… and a crucial one! You should try to avoid the dominant ‘fast fashion’ mentality. Lots of natural and human resources are spent to produce one-use cheap items that end up in a trash bin. Try to get things that you’ll enjoy and use for years instead. Before making a purchase, make sure that you can combine it with as many possible pieces in your wardrobe.
2. Use what you have
Start with your existing wardrobe and try to create new combinations from the clothes you already have. Let’s say you have a yellow skirt that you don’t wear often. Go to Pinterest or Google Images and search “yellow skirt outfit ideas”. You will get hundreds of ideas… and you probably already have all the “ingredients” in your closet! It is also a good exercise to train your creativity.
3. Go for timeless items
4. Buy secondhand
If you understand what a timeless garment is, you will be able to find real gems in secondhand shops. Search for basic knits as wool or cashmere, classic jeans, skirts, simple basic shirts… Check my basic wardrobe list before shopping for these things.
5. Choose biodegradable fabrics
Pay attention to the fibers used to make the items you buy. Choose natural fibers that are biodegradable and try to avoid polyester and acrylic, as these fibers release microplastics into the environment when you wash them. If you can’t get rid of all synthetics right away – which is probably impossible for most of us – consider buying a special washing bag that prevents the spreading of microfibers.
6. Attend swap-parties
Exchange clothes with your friends. Items that are old and boring for you can be new and exciting for someone else!
7. Don’t let your clothes to end up in landfills
Leave clothes that you don’t want to wear anymore in secondhand or thrift shops. If they’re not wearable, recycle! Some stores as H&M will take them. If you’re not sure where to bring them, google what is available in your area.
8. Mend and upcycle
Some old fabrics and garments can be used for other purposes. An old sweater, for instance, can become a sofa cushion. Don’t let your items go to waste!
Do you shop mindfully and sustainably? Add your own tips and ideas below!