Climate change is one of the major challenges we face today but recent global developments, from the Australian bushfires to Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for The Future movement, have started to highlight how serious climate change is. Above all, it is becoming clear that we will have to act, and act quickly.
The fashion industry also continues to cause negative headlines: enormous production-related CO2 emissions, water pollution and the promotion of a throw-away mentality. For a better future, sustainable changes to the way we buy fashion are inevitable – it is vital to consume less, wasting fewer resources and producing less waste.
But is it even possible to live in an ecologically meaningful way without having to completely give up ingrained fashion habits? For many people, the transition from ‘fast fashion’ to more sustainable labels can seem more difficult than it actually is. In the following post we give five sustainable wardrobe tips that will not only help you to be more environmentally friendly but will also help you to have fun restructuring your wardrobe.
- Shop more sustainably
- Mix in vintage clothing
- Repair and care
- Exchange and borrow
- Recycle or sell
Shop (more) sustainably
A more sustainable wardrobe does not mean that you shouldn’t go shopping at all but it does depend on when, how and what you shop:
It is certainly the most important rule for a sustainable wardrobe to only buy new clothes when it is necessary. Spontaneous purchases – just because an item is on a “fake” sale – are not typically sustainable. Therefore, it is better to buy less, but better (and more durable) quality – and above all only when a new item of clothing is really needed.
If you have a special event on the weekend, like a party, carnival weekend or any other special occasion. Instead of going to a cheap clothing store to buy something that you will probably only wear once or twice, look in your wardrobe and be creative with what you find. This way you’ll avoid unnecessary ‘disposable’ clothes and probably end up with a more original outfit that makes you feel even more comfortable.
A big problem when buying cheap clothes online is the enormous amounts of plastic packaging. This causes unnecessary waste, as most companies use the most cost-effective materials that are often non-recyclable. However, other problems also arise when buying ‘fast fashion’ online: customers often refrain from returning unsuitable products because it would hardly be “worth it” due to the shipping costs. So, it might happen that unworn clothing ends up directly in the garbage (along with all the resources used during production). And even if customers send the goods back, it is often easiest for low-cost brands not to process them but to also dispose of them directly. The alternative is to support your local shop or to order from sustainable brands that use minimal packaging that’s recyclable.
There are many fashion brands that focus on environmentally friendly production and also primarily use sustainable materials. Nevertheless, it is important to remember that the simple “sustainable” claim is not enough: if a brand really is eco-friendly, it will generally disclose its production and business practices in a transparent and comprehensible way. You can read about which points you have to pay particular attention to or what makes a sustainable brand, here in our blog on sustainable fashion brands.
As already mentioned, another important aspect regarding sustainable clothing is the quality of a garment – high-quality products can be worn for a long time and therefore don’t have to be replaced quickly. But another aspect is the ‘trendiness’ of the item and it can sometimes be better to go for something more timeless. Basics and essentials, for example, don’t typically depend on fashion trends and can therefore be worn for longer.
Unlike technology, vintage clothing can still be “modern”
Vintage / Second Hand
Admittedly, for many it is perhaps a bit boring to walk around just dressed in basics. So where can you find your statement pieces?
There are many clothes that are not worn, even though they are in good condition. Why not take a look at vintage shops and see what jewels can be found there? Here, you can not only save your cash, but also find rare pieces that nobody else has and thus build an original look. Moreover, the vintage shopping experience can be unique and quite exciting: often it can feel a bit like a treasure hunt. So, if you don’t already shop in vintage stores, you could give it try.
Tip: it’s important to check out several different shops; because the differences in stock are enormous: from chaotic to elegant and well sorted, second-hand shops really run the range.
Repair and care
A problem with second-hand products is often the fact that the desired article is not available in different sizes. In such a case, there is often an easy solution: the nearest tailor, who should be able to adjust almost any garment to your personal measurements. In the end the piece will fit even better than an off-the-peg garment.
The same point goes for existing clothes that need a bit of care and attention. Instead of throwing them in the bin, get them repaired by a local tailor (or do it yourself if you’ve got the skills). It’s normally cheaper than buying a new item too and with a little creativity, you can even re-cut and reinvent clothes you’ve owned for a long time.
Exchange or borrow
This is probably the most entertaining way to get a breath of fresh air into your wardrobe. There are a growing number of clothing exchanges, where you can swap pieces you no longer want. Another fun way is to meet up with friends and hold a clothing swap party or event – while transforming your living room into a catwalk.
And if you or your friends don’t want to give away your clothes permanently, you can simply borrow them from each other. This can be useful when you need an outfit for special occasions, such as when you’re invited to a wedding and need something special.
Of course, some items are beyond saving. In these cases, find out where in your area you can recycle. If the item is still in good condition but you just don’t want to wear it anymore or it has become too small, there are collection points for clothing or charities that give a meaningful purpose to the process of returning used clothes. Of course, if you want a bit of money, there are also vintage shops that buy selected items from you, flea markets where you can earn some cash, and also apps like depop where you can showcase and sell your used clothes.
All of the above have one crucial point in common: extending the lifecycle of clothing while avoiding waste.
We hope that you are inspired by our tips and that you will have fun putting them into practice. If you want to get started right away, take a look at our collection. SANVT stands for better made essentials: high-quality basic clothing that has been produced with as little impact on the environment as possible.