It’s no secret the fashion industry is one of the most ecologically and environmentally destructive forces on the planet. From the vast amount of resources used in textile manufacturing to the fossil fuels during shipping to the limited lifespan of most articles of clothing, it’s a harmful process from beginning to end.
While the switch to more sustainable processes ultimately falls on the fashion industry, the push for change falls on the consumer. What’s more, there are many things we can do as individuals to promote a more sustainable closet.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at six ways to make your wardrobe more sustainable:
Learn how to mend and repair
In the old days, clothes and shoes weren’t thrown away until they were in utter disrepair. People mended and repaired these items in order to prolong their lifespan. By taking the time to learn how to sew up torn fabric, deep clean dirty shoes, and patch up worn-out denim, you’ll extend the usability of clothes and footwear. In doing so, you limit the amount of fashion-related trash you’re throwing away and reduce the number of replacement clothes and shoes you buy each year.
Buy high-quality boots and shoes
Buying cheap sneakers, discount dress shoes, and budget-friendly boots might appear to be a smart money move, but looks can be deceiving. Low-cost footwear is often made using inferior materials and inadequate assembly methods, resulting in shoes that fall apart fast. Before you know it, you’re back buying a replacement pair. Not only does that add up in terms of cost over time, but it’s also unsustainable. Consider buying high-quality footwear instead. From luxury winter boots built to look great for years to name-brand athletic shoes designed to endure hundreds if not thousands of miles of abuse, better quality footwear is better for the environment. Besides, they tend to fit better and look better too!
Stick to durable brands and labels
Some clothing brands and fashion labels are manufactured to last longer than others. Start paying attention to which clothes and shoes stand the test of time and which don’t. Going forward, stick to the brands and labels that hold up to wear and tear. From there, scrutinize everything from the stitching to the buttons to the types of fabric and materials used to determine if a new item is likely to last or not. In doing so, you prolong the lifespan of your wardrobe and reduce the need to go out and buy new clothes and shoes every few months.
Modern fashion leans heavily on vintage styles. What’s more, shopping for clothes at thrift stores is no longer considered a sign of desperation but is rather trendy. With this in mind, those trying to achieve sustainability in fashion should make a habit of shopping at local thrift stores and used clothing retailers online. Not only will this help you save lots of money, but it will also help save the planet in the process. That’s because you’re prolonging the life of existing clothing and avoiding the purchase of new fashion.
Avoid fast fashion
The majority of ecological damage caused by the modern fashion industry can be traced to a phenomenon known as “fast fashion.” Simply put, fast fashion refers to the rapid manufacturing of cheap clothes and shoes meant to imitate the look of high-fashion designs. By avoiding fast fashion as much as possible, you avoid supporting this environmentally destructive fad.
Lean on timeless styles
You might be wondering what’s the point of preserving clothes and shoes if they’re destined to fall out of fashion within a few years. That won’t happen if you stick to timeless styles. Rather than chase the latest trends, fall back on colors, patterns, cuts, and designs that have remained popular for decades. That way, the clothes and shoes you buy today will remain stylish ten or even 20 years from now.
The unfortunate reality is that modern fashion is very harmful to the environment. It consumes vast amounts of resources, generates massive amounts of carbon, and contributes to untold amounts of waste. While the industry must change, consumers can get the ball rolling by limiting their reliance on these unsustainable practices and finding ways to extend the life of the clothes and shoes they already own.
Julie Steinbeck is a freelance writer from Florida. She enjoys covering topics related to business, fashion, and finance.