Where to start when you want to dress more ethically
Nothing is more disheartening for a fashion lover than to realize that their passion for clothes might have a negative impact on the rest of the world. Even casual shoppers are contributing to the problem more than they may think. The problem, to be specific, is fast fashion. The overconsumption of cheap clothing is causing problems worldwide – from poor conditions for factory workers to an unsustainable toll being taken on the earth’s resources. There is simply too much clothing being made, often in unethical ways. But with more and more brands seeing the importance of an environmental focus, dressing sustainably no longer means compromising. Here are some points to inspire you as a customer to dress more sustainable.
Buy for life
Buy garment made of high-quality, durable materials if you can. We encourage you to only buy an item if you really know that you will wear it, choose what you like enough to wear forever. Evening Standard revealed that one out of 10 people would discard a piece of clothing after being pictured on social media wearing it three times; and that one out of five people throw clothes rather than give them to charity. Determining the difference between “wants right now” and “needs” can be a big help in reducing the amount of clothing you buy.
Discover what your clothes are made of by checking the care labels. Items that are made 100% of one material, are much easier to recycle once you’re finished with them. Most recycling facilities are unable to recycle blended fibers – which means they generally end up in landfill when they are no longer used. So where you can, choose 100%, and the very best is to choose 100% natural materials.
Organic cotton or wool are better for the environment than synthetic fibers which are petrol- and chemical-based and, most importantly, do not bio-degrade. While shopping, look out for items made of biodegradable materials – but if you find something you really love that is synthetic, then revert to rule one, buy for life, or two, check labels. Check out our column about materials, under our.standards, to read about the pros and cons with the different materials.
Know your stuff
One of the most difficult things about trying to dress more ethical is knowing where to start – and more importantly, where to shop. You do not have to go to the extreme, but simply making an effort to know where your clothing comes from and purchasing from retailers, designers, and brands you trust can make a difference. A good start is to find some brands you like and take it from there.
We know we have mentioned this before, but choosing second hand or vintage is always a win – from a planet and fashion standpoint. Stay open minded, but not too open minded, and be selective how you spend your money. If an item of clothing has some defect, ask yourself whether you will actually take the time to repair it or if it will just end up being junk taking up space. Vintage clothing has a huge role to play in making fashion more sustainable and reducing a global footprint
Some other points worth mentioning
– Swipe clothes and sell
– Look after your clothes so they last longer
– Go for quality over quantity
– Invest in trans-seasonal clothes
– Donate your unwanted clothes
– Learn how to repair clothing yourself (or find a good tailor)