10+ Sustainable Fashion Tips - How to have a More Ethical Wardrobe
Updated: Oct 28
92 million tonnes of textile waste is produced each year. Out of 100 billion garments produced, 92 million tonnes end up in landfills. This is about a garbage truck full of unwanted clothes each second. Because all these clothes need to be produced from raw materials and then turned into garments. These require lots of resources which results in the fashion industry being responsible for 3% of global CO2 emissions and over 20% of global water pollution. I think we can and should do better therefore I want to share some sustainable fashion tips to make your wardrobe more sustainable.
Do you need it?
Before you purchase a new piece of clothing, first consider if you need it. Wait at least a few weeks before you go looking for it and if you still need it, consider if you wear it often or if will it just sit in your closet looking pretty. Give the items you would like to buy some thought. Not just mindless purchase of everything that catches your eye. Just the other day I heard someone say ‘ If you would run into an ex wearing this, would you feel confident and good about yourself?’ I think this is an amazing way to approach new pieces of clothing to make sure you purchase only items you will wear over and over again so you get the most out of the clothing you have purchased.
Do your research
Learn more about who made your clothes and if the workers are treated fairly. If possible, I recommend you give making a piece of clothing a try. This way you will become more aware of how much work is involved in creating clothing. Just the other day I made a dress that was not very difficult to make but it took me a couple of hours to make (and I am pretty good at a sewing machine if I say so myself). I know how much work is involved in making clothes and when I see a shirt sold for $2 or $3 I know the workers will probably receive a few cents for the work they did.
Choose organic, natural, and biodegradable fabrics over synthetic plastic fabric. Not only is organic clothing better for our environment but GOTS-certified fabric also makes sure that the people producing the cotton (or any other sustainable fabric), creating the yarn, and sewing the clothes are treated ethically and work in a safe environment. Turn clothes instead out and check the labels if you are unsure what fabrics are used for the garments.
There is enough clothing available on our planet already. So before you decide to purchase something new, check if it is available secondhand. You can thrift in your local thrift shop (which also supports the local economy) but as the options are sometimes very limited in a thrift store, you can also shop for secondhand fashion online like Facebook marketplace or vinted.
If what you are looking for is not available secondhand or you don’t want to purchase it secondhand. Like underwear, for example, I would not purchase secondhand. Shop locally, this not only supports the local economy but also has a much lower carbon footprint due to much shorter transportation for both the resources and the garments.
Purchase well-made items that are made to last over cheap items to are made to last one 1 season. By choosing quality you not only make a purchase that is better for the environment due to higher quality resources, but you also save money in the long run as quality fashion is made to last you years.
No to Packaging
Some shops like to wrap your purchase in paper. As this will just end up in the trash anyway, so no to any type of package on your purchase and bring your bag when shopping
A lot of the garments' environmental impact occurs after purchase. Don't dry clean clothes as that demands a lot of chemicals and wash your clothes only when needed. 60% to 80% of a garment's environmental impact is due to laundry. This means that you can significantly reduce the impact of your clothes by washing your clothes after a few wears instead of 1 wear. You can make it even more sustainable and save more energy but lower the temperature at which you do laundry. Research has shown that you can save up to 40% energy by washing your clothes at a lower temperature.
Make it last
Treat your purchase with care so they will last longer and you need to shop less frequently. When you know how many resources and how much time it takes to make clothes, you will treat your clothes with much more respect and you are more careful with your clothes.
Fix what is broken
If somehow you end up with a hole in your clothes, fix your clothes instead of getting rid of them. By fixing your clothes you make them last longer and you can save lots of money because you don’t have to purchase new clothes. Being handy with a sewing machine is great but even just a needle and thread are enough to fix clothes so you can wear them again. And if you really can’t as some of us are just not that crafty, ask your mom or a friend to do it for you or find a local Taylor.
Never Throw Clothes in the Trash
Clothing that ends up in regular garbage is either incinerated or ends up in a landfill. If you don't love a piece of fashion anymore, you can upcycle it and turn it into a new piece that you will love or you can donate it to make someone else happy with it. If you can’t even make cleaning rags out of them anymore, put them in the textile recycling bin.
I hope these tips will help you on your way to creating a more sustainable wardrobe and that you have become more aware of how you treat your clothes have an impact on our environment.