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How to Make Your Wardrobe More Sustainable

The fashion industry is one of the largest contributors to the global environmental crisis. It’s responsible for a significant portion of carbon emissions, is the second-largest polluter of water, and with the constant changing of trends, creates an astounding amount of waste in landfills. By making conscious choices when it comes to our wardrobe, we can reduce our negative impact on the environment and have a positive impact on the lives of garment workers across the globe.

In this article, we will explore ten tips for making your wardrobe more sustainable (without sacrificing your personal style 😉).

sustainability matters, sustainable living, "living more sustainably isn't a hippie thing, it's a survival thing"
Quote by Brooke Hampton

1. Choose Quality Over Quantity

The first step towards having a more sustainable wardrobe is to focus on quality over quantity. It’s easy to fall into the trap of buying cheap, fast-fashion clothes that you’ll only wear a few times before they fall apart, especially when it comes to the burning need to participate in current trends. Instead, whenever you can, invest in timeless, well-made pieces that will last for years to come. You’ll be doing both your wallet and the environment a favour.

Sustainable fashion, sustainable clothing brands
Cardigan and necklace from ABLE, a clothing brand committed to moving fashion forward by creating go-to wardrobe pieces that empower both the women who wear them and make them.

It is important to note that not everyone has the means or access to invest in high quality pieces produced by sustainable brands. One of the best pieces of advice I've seen on this is, "if you have to purchase fast-fashion, don't treat it like fast fashion."

2. Buy Secondhand

Shopping secondhand is another great way to build a sustainable wardrobe. Not only can it save you money, but it lessens the strain on the environment. Thrift stores and online marketplaces like Poshmark and ThredUp are great places to find gently used clothing at a fraction of the cost of buying new. By buying secondhand, you’re not only reducing the amount of clothing that ends up in landfills but also supporting a more circular economy.

sustainable fashion, sustainable living, Poshmark
Dress purchased through online marketplace, Poshmark

If you have to purchase fast-fashion, don't treat it like fast fashion.

3. Choose Timeless Pieces

Fashion trends come and go, but timeless pieces never go out of style. By choosing timeless pieces that you can wear for years to come, you’re reducing the amount of clothing you need to buy over time. Look for classic pieces like a well-tailored blazer, a little black dress, or a classic trench coat. These pieces will always be in style and can easily be dressed up or down depending on the occasion or season.

4. Take Care of Your Clothes

Taking care of your clothes is essential if you want to make your wardrobe more sustainable. By properly caring for your clothes, you can extend their lifespan and reduce the need to buy new items. Follow the care instructions on the labels of your clothing, and avoid over-washing or over-drying your clothes. When possible, hang dry your clothes instead of using a dryer. This not only helps to save energy but also helps to prevent shrinkage and damage to your clothes. Taking care of your clothes also means learning how to repair them in order to extend their lifespan. Rips/snags in materials, lost buttons, and broken zippers are all things that can often be salvaged! Not within your skillset? Check out a local tailor!

Wearing Londre, one of my favourite sustainable swimwear brands. Each suit is made out of recycled plastic bottles right here in Canada!

5. Repurpose and Recycle/Upcycle

When your clothes are no longer wearable, consider repurposing or recycling them instead of throwing them away. Old t-shirts can be turned into rags for cleaning, and old jeans can be cut into shorts or turned into a denim skirt. Some clothing brands also offer recycling programs where you can send in your old clothes to be recycled into new garments.

thrifted outfit, sustainable fashion
Fully thrifted outfit

At the end of the day, the most sustainable thing you can do is use what you already own.

6. Support Sustainable Brands

By supporting sustainable brands, you’re helping to promote more eco-friendly practices in the fashion industry. Look for brands that use sustainable materials, reduce waste, focus on employee well-being, and have transparent supply chains. Everlane, Reformation, and Patagonia are all great examples of brands who are having a positive impact on the fashion industry. By supporting sustainable brands, we also increase demand for higher standards when it comes to acceptable social and environmental practices.

sustainable fashion, slow fashion
Sweater from ABLE, a clothing brand committed to moving fashion forward by creating go-to wardrobe pieces that empower both the women who wear them and make them.

7. Rent Clothing

If you only need an outfit for a special occasion or a one-time event, consider renting your clothing instead of buying it. There are many clothing rental services available, including Rent the Runway and Nuuly. Renting clothing not only helps to reduce waste but also allows you to try out new styles without committing to a full purchase!

sustainable clothing, sustainable fashion, how to make your wardrobe more sustainable
Pants from Canadian designer Lennard Taylor, made from lyocell. Top acquired from a clothing swap held with friends.

8. Participate in a Clothing Swap

Holding a clothing swap with friends or other people in your community is a great way to totally refresh your wardrobe without spending a dime. It also makes for a fun and social event, providing new life for your gently used items while also sprucing up your wardrobe with fresh styles.

9. Buy Locally-Made Clothing

Buying locally-made clothing can also help to reduce the carbon footprint of the fashion industry. Look for brands that produce their clothing locally or domestically, which helps to reduce the amount of energy and resources needed for transportation. Additionally, by buying local, you’re supporting local businesses and helping to boost your local economy!

Support local, sustainable fashion, making your wardrobe more sustainable, handmade fashion
I love this cardigan which was handmade by Myracle Handmade

10. Consider the Entire Supply Chain

When making a purchase, consider the entire supply chain of the clothing you’re buying. This includes everything from the materials used to the treatment of the individuals who make the garment.

At the end of the day, the most sustainable thing you can do is use what you already own. Experiment with the items in your wardrobe by making as many outfit combinations as possible -- you might be surprised at how creative you can get! But, know that it is also normal to get bored and feel the need to diversify your wardrobe or spice up your look. Hopefully when that moment inevitably hits, this blog post will serve as a reminder for the many ways you can creatively contribute to your personal style in a way that doesn't sacrifice the well-being of people and planet. 💚

Sustainable fashion, sustainable living, how to make your wardrobe more sustainable
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