How to make your wardrobe more sustainable
Girl, I know you’re an eco-warrior goddess. You’ve invested in a reusable coffee cup, perhaps even several so that you don’t get caught out without one. You bring a reusable bottle with you everywhere you go. Hell, you even keep a stash of reusable shopping bags in your handbag. You’re probably using a bamboo toothbrush, reusable straws and composting like a boss too! You’ve made most of your life sustainable, but there is one thing that is doing more damage to the environment than you might know.
On June 5 it will be World Environment Day which means another opportunity for us all to take a look at our personal environmental footprint and find ways to reduce it. Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my fashion footprint and what I can do to live a more sustainable, yet fashionable life.
I won’t lie, I’m a sucker for nice things and like to keep up with the latest trends be it activewear or high fashion. But at what price?
The fashion industry is one of the biggest in the world, accounting for 2% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It may come as a surprise but it’s also now one of the biggest polluters in the world—second only to oil. You can thank "Fast Fashion” for that.
Fast Fashion is basically cheaply produced, low priced clothes that essentially copy the latest catwalk styles. It’s a relatively recent phenomenon, that has been spreading like wildfire, and according to a study by The University of Queensland fast fashion retailers grew by 9.7%between 2010 and 2015.
Globally, we now consume about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year—400% more than we were consuming just two decades ago.
Paradoxically, the more we love buying clothes, the more we seem to love either not wearing them or disposing of them.
In the UK, the average shopper only wears 70% of what’s in their wardrobe and throws out a whopping 70 kilograms of textile waste per year.
Aussies are not much better, sending a staggering 85% of the textiles we buy to landfill every year. We now also hold the title for being the second-largest consumer of new textiles after the US, averaging 27 kilograms of new textiles per annum (Source: The University of Queensland).
What does that mean for the environment?
The clothing and textile industry is depleting our non-renewable resources, emitting tonnes of greenhouses gases and using massive quantities of energy, chemicals and water.
Love your activewear? I do too, but the synthetic fibres they’re made form, the same ones also favoured by fast fashion brands, such as polyester, nylon and acrylic, are basically a kind of plastic made from petroleum, which means they could take up to a thousand years to biodegrade. These fibres also tend to end up in our water ways every time you wash your clothes. These fibres are then consumed by fish which means that they too will one day end up in your body.
It’s time to break the “buy it, wear it once or twice, and throw it out” cycle.
Shopping sustainably is just a small part of the picture, but every step helps right?
Here are my tips for making your wardrobe more sustainable. The benefit is, it’s actually going to save you money!
Clean out your closet
It’s time to Marie Kondo your closet. Look at everything you own and ask yourself if it brings you joy. Less is more! Trust me on this one. Donate what doesn’t bring you joy to charity, or sell it on Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree or Ebay. Having less stuff cluttering you closet makes getting dressed a lot easier in the mornings because you’re not overwhelmed with choice.
Look after your clothes
This may be tricky if you’ve got a little one smearing avocado and Vegemite on virtually everything you own, but if you don’t then you have no excuse. Make your clothes last longer by looking after them. Treat every garment you own like it’s Haute Couture. Caring for your clothes means you’ll have to replace them less often. Wash your clothes with gentle eco friendly detergents like The Probiotic Line, using a low temperature cycle. This will prevent your clothes from fading. If it’s super delicate then be sure hand wash or take your garments to an eco friendly dry cleaner.
Quality over quantity
Don’t get sucked into buying a tonne of $10 T shirts just because they’re cheap. Ask yourself, do you really need a bunch of tees you that you only kinda sorta like? They’re only going to shrink and become misshapen anyway, so you’d be better off spending a little extra on a top that makes you feel fabulous. Shop smarter, and your clothes will last you longer.
I’m not big on op-shopping personally, simply because I don’t have the time and prefer to shop online. This is why I was very excited to be introduced to shopping sites like Vestaire Collective, The Real Real and What Goes Around Comes Around. You can find some seriously luxe goods that have been gently warn at a fraction of the price - saving the environment and your wallet.
Invest in eco-friendly brands
We are pretty lucky to have so many amazing eco friendly brands available to us. Some may be a little pricier but in the end you’re getting a much better quality garment that will last longer.
Embrace the rental revolution
One of the best discoveries I’ve made recently is being able to rent high price items via websites like GlamCorner. GlamCorner also has a subscription service that enables you to have unlimited wardrobe options to keep things fun and fresh without forking out a fortune. GC Premium (beta) has you covered for any occasion - work, holiday, everyday you name it! For approximately $149 per mont you can refresh your wardrobe with unlimited pieces. This means spending less on clothes and having a fabulous wardrobe at your fingertips. Learn more about the service here.