By Tess Cimino and Abigail Carlson
Want to incorporate more sustainable fashion practices in your life but don’t know where to start? You may already know that fast fashion prioritizes cost minimization, often at the detriment of product quality, safe working conditions for workers, or environmental preservation. Fashion is one of the largest polluting industries in the world, with volumes of clothes ending up in landfills, the byproduct of our ever changing modern trends. But our purchasing habits don’t have to hurt the environment.
In the end everything comes down to the standard of reduce, reuse and recycle… even for fashion! So, here are 4 ways you can incorporate sustainable fashion practices in your life.
Buy Vintage and Secondhand
Vintage and thrift stores are the best way to find unique pieces that don’t harm the planet. By wearing others’ donated clothes, you’ll keep some of your cash in your pocket keep clothes from ending up in the ocean or a landfill. On top of that, this is easier than ever now with online options like ThreadUp and TheRealReal making thrifting possible wherever you live.
Know Your Fabrics
Read your labels. Synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, are made with oil and chemicals and can take hundreds of years to break down. Although natural fibers break down, producing traditional cotton requires copious amounts of water and pesticides, meaning that it is still not the most sustainable option. Read the labels to find out what your clothes are made out of and stay away from fabrics that cause harm to the earth. Opt instead for sustainable solutions, including natural fibers such as hemp, silk, linen, and deadstock/reclaimed fabrics, which are created using leftover fabrics from manufacturers.
If you are buying something, always ask yourself, “Will I wear this thirty times?” If the answer is yes, then go for it! Livia Firth, founder of Eco-Age came up with this idea to really challenge us to get full use out of the clothes we wear and not be afraid to be an outfit repeater. According to WRAP, extending the life of clothes by just nine extra months of active use would reduce carbon, waste, and water footprints by around 20-30% each.
Get Creative and Upcycle Old Clothes
If you don’t like an old pair of jeans, cut them into shorts, add some holes or maybe even dye them a new color. Lengthen a dress that is too short by sewing in some lace at the bottom, cut up old t-shirts and make a quilt, add a patch to a T-shirt with holes, or turn a dress into a new blouse. The possibilities are endless if you look around and get creative!