Three (almost totally) painless ways to make your wardrobe more sustainable

A couple of years ago I told a friend who’s an environmental consultant that I felt guilty about much I was flying.   I lived in Barcelona but was in London for work often, so I was flying loads.  I was amazed when she told me that two other things I was doing were even worse than flying.  These were eating meat and buying clothes.  As well as flying frequently, I did buy a lot of clothes! 

This was not what I wanted to hear.  I didn’t mind cutting down on burgers, but the thought of giving up my Zara habit did not appeal.  Unfortunately, my friend was right.  Clothes are much harder to recycle than you might think, so the reality is that an estimated £140 million worth, or 350,000 tonnes, of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year. (1) The production of clothing requires a lot of water and use of toxic chemicals.  Amazingly, the amount of water used to grow the cotton needed to make one pair of jeans is equivalent to the drinking water for a person for ten years! (2)   I know…

I love fashion, and to me it’s not frivolous.  Wearing a great outfit can make me feel so much more confident, relaxed, or professional.  And it’s fun and creative to put together different looks.  What I needed was a way to enjoy fashion in a more sustainable way.  Three things I’d recommend are:

(1) Buy clothing made from natural fabrics:  Washing clothes made from synthetic fabrics such as acrylic, nylon, and polyester causes them to shed hundreds of thousands of microplastic fibres into the water system.  Where possible, buy wool, cotton, bamboo, Tencel ™ or other non-synthetic materials.   

(2) Shop second hand as this saves clothes from landfill.  Pre-loved has got a lot more glamorous and more convenient – see this post: https://rewearitwell.com/2020/10/25/why-second-hand-is-the-new-black/

(3) Have a clothes swap party with friends, or find one happening near you on social media.  A top tip for a successful event is to have some things that aren’t size specific such as scarves, bags, necklaces and so on.  That greatly increases your chances successful swapping. 

Happy shopping!

#ethicalstyle #30wears #sustainablefashion #sustainablewardrobe

(1) https://www.wrap.org.uk/content/textiles-overview

(2) https://oxfamapps.org.uk/shop-blog/sustainable-fashion/post-about-sustainable-fashion/)

Published by jengreggs

I'm a London-based writer and blogger focused on sustainability in fashion. My purpose is to help everyone discover the joy of living more sustainably.

2 thoughts on “Three (almost totally) painless ways to make your wardrobe more sustainable

  1. One other great thing I read recently is that the most sustainable thing we can do is wear the hell out of whatever we happen to have in our closet right now … even keeping it in use for an extra few months or a year means we’re using less and amortizing whatever environmental impact its making had over a longer period. Here’s the wear and rewear!!

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    1. Yes, this is so true. Thanks, Helena! In fact this year I decided not to buy any ‘new’ new clothes, only preloved. I actually thought I might get through the year buying almost nothing at all (but then I found Depop). You’re completely right that the most sustainable option of all is to wear what we already have.

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