Our beautiful articles of clothing often end up being major culprits for pollution. Today, fashion accounts for ~ 10% of the global carbon dioxide output. A lot of the clothes we wear leak microplastics into the ocean and into our waterways and food. Additionally, the fast fashion industry is often guilty of multiple human rights abuses and the chemicals used to produce our apparel is often harmful to the industry workers and our planet.
So, what can we do?
Since walking around in our birthday suits like Adam and Eve is probably not going to become normalized, here are some actionable steps for making more climate-friendly fashion choices. It boils down to:
Reconsider (stay with me on that last one)
1. The old adage, less is more, is the golden rule when it comes to fashion shopping.
In this new age of clothing hauls and outfit of the day (OOTD) photos, it's easy to get sucked into the fast fashion machine and think that you need the latest trend in order to stay relevant. When we consciously decide to refrain from chasing the latest fashion trend and rather pick clothes that make us feel and look good in our bodies, we may realize that we have way more in our closet than we need.
Something that could really help us wear what we already own is to organize our closets by the current season. The reason this works, is that every time you have to switch out your closet, it serves as a reminder of all you own and could help temper the desire to purchase even more articles of clothing.
So, if it's autumn (the best season of the year), keep the sweaters, light layers, and boots in an easily accessible area of your closet and move the spring/summer articles of clothing towards the back of your closet. Or, simply pack all your non-seasonal clothing into a storage bag and store it in a completely separate area (such as your garage if you have one), until it's time for the next season.
I've found all kinds of clothes that I'd forgotten I purchased, just by doing this seasonal rotating method.
2. Choose your style and stick to it.
A lot of our clothing shopping habits stem from not knowing what style we like best and what best fits our lifestyles. For a long time, I was tossed about by every wind of fashion - I've tried so many looks from almost goth, to Stepford wife. That indecision had me frequently purchasing new outfits, based on whatever image I wanted to portray at the time.
Now that I have discovered my style, which I describe as 'Classic Comfort', I'm much more selective in the outfits I purchase because if something doesn't align with my vision, I simply don't purchase it. It doesn't matter if it's the latest trend in fashion or not...I choose my opinion over whatever the world suggests my look should be.
This approach is helping me overlook all the numerous social media ads that make their debut every second of every day. No more multicolored yoga leggings or super-revealing Fashionnova outfits for me (for that imaginary lounge I'll be going to). I choose my outfits based on how comfortable I feel in them and whether or not they will stand the test of time. The little black dress for example, has looked good since 1945 and still looks good today.
Choosing and sticking to one particular style that you love and adore will prevent you from impulse shopping for the latest greatest trend that TikTok or any other social media site promotions.
1. Shop Thrift! Now, before you go imagining a dusty goodwill store (I actually shop at goodwill often, so no shade), think online thrift!
My absolute favorite online thrift store also happens to be the largest - ThredUp. This online thrift store lets you filter out their products by your size, color, material type (eg linen, cotton, etc) and what article of clothing you're searching for, each skirt, blouse, etc.
ThredUp also gives you the option to ship your own clothing to them for resale and you get a cut of the profit (albeit a small cut).
From designer brands like Coach and Kate Spade to retail brands like Old Navy and Forever 21, you can find a steal any day on this site. I highly recommend at least checking them out and using their filters to find something that might suit your personal style.
2. Other noteworthy online thrift stores include PoshMark, DePop, Mercari, Goodwillfinds, Facebook Marketplace, Tradesy, and many others. The online age is upon us so if you have no desire to go pilfering through thousands of articles of clothing in person, you can find your next thrifted gem from your new thrifted find is just a click away!
1. Choose clothing made from natural fibers such as cotton and linen
Arguably the biggest difference we can make in the fight against fashion pollution is to make a great choice to begin with, by choosing natural fibers.
So much of our clothing these days is made from polyester due to its cheapness and abundance. Polyester is made from petroleum and sheds microplastics every single time it's washed.
Fabrics composed of natural fibers such as organic cotton, flax, hemp, bamboo, sisal, jute, and wool are biodegradable and don't pollute the planet with microplastic. When sourced from companies that practice sustainable manufacturing and fair trade policies, you can rest assured that you've done something good for the planet through your fashion choice.
Clothing made from natural fibers tend to be a bit more pricey than cheap polyester. And if polyester is all you can afford at the moment, please don't feel bad about that. The very best you can afford to do is better than nothing.
But if you have been blessed with the means to be a bit more discrete in your fashion fabric choices, please consider switching to natural fibers. One less polyester outfit in the washer is one less microplastic in the ocean.
2. Stay the course - it gets easier!
A lot of individuals struggle to make the switch to thrifted items and/or cutting off fast fashion brands. The good news is: you don't have to do it cold turkey!
No one is saying you need to burn all your polyester clothing (please DON'T do that). Making the change towards sustainable fashion can be a gradual process that happens one day at a time. It also doesn't have to necessarily be in the order of Reduce-Reuse-Reconsider.
If you can't immediately Reconsider at this time, then maybe you can Reduce. And if you can't Reuse at this time, maybe you can Reconsider.
Choose a step that seems the most reasonable for you to tackle at this time and make a little change today.
You can do this! Your wallet, your closet, and our Planet will thank you!
Remember, the goal is not perfection, just little changes that will later snowball into big changes. Do the very best that you can, whenever you can, and encourage others to do the same; that's how we make positive changes for our planet.
Please leave a comment below if you have any other tips or questions and don't forget to subscribe for more posts on sustainability, travel, and plant-based cooking!
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