7 easy ways to a more sustainable wardrobe
You do not have to give up shopping and become a fashion monk to dress in a more ethical way - here are seven simple tips to make your closet more sustainable. Remember: saving the planet is a question of style!
From a fashion perspective, the internet is a stream of joy. Sold out? Nowadays, an unacceptable fact for the savvy fashion lover! If a shoe is not available in your country any longer, some store overseas will definitely still have it in stock. One click and the brand-new pair of it-shoes crosses the ocean! Of course, you will be leaving a lasting impression with other people when wearing them. But, unfortunately, also a deep ecological footprint on the planet. The impact on the climate with the transport of goods is severe. Of course, we would never even think about trying to convince you to quit online shopping - but at least
don´t shop thousands of miles from home. And think twice before you click: not having to return an item saves at least half the greenhouse emissions.
You like Hedi Slimane´s Celine collection for next winter? You are lucky - just have a look in the vintage shops, where you will find the original look from around 1979. The more clothing we maintain in the cycle, the less new garments need to be produced. Keep in mind that the textile industry, in terms of global environmental impact, ranks second, right after the oil industry! Of course, vintage shopping needs a certain open-mindedness: don´t even try to find a particular skirt, you will be deluded if thinking your size will be available. Instead, you will find a terrific floral dress you never thought you wanted. So, stop searching and go with the flow.
The fashion revolution may not be happening in the designer´s atelier - but it’s happening in the labs of fabric companies. So, what sounded impossible for a fashionista a few years ago, is looking pretty good now: garments made out of recycled materials. Who would have thought that a puffer jacket filled with recycled down is as warm as one filled with brand new down! Try the Spanish brand Ecoalf for coats - or Aeance, a deluxe sportswear label elegant enough to wear all day long. Both work with state-of-the-art recycling materials. Aeance even offers a skirt made out of bio-degradable polyester. Until now, great recycled fabrics are still more expensive than new ones - it is up to us to make it affordable. The more we ask for it, the bigger the odds that it will be an affordable option for everybody one day (apart from the plastic industry).
Avoid fur - even the faux-fur.
You know real fur is out of fashion when even the most prominent fashion labels like Gucci commit to not using it anymore. That is why fake fur is on the rise. Unfortunately, these fluffy, new friends are not so friendly either, because they are made of polymeric fibres, like acrylic or polyester; basically plastic. A fake fur sheds like a real one, by the way - so every time you leave the house, you leave a little bit of plastic in the environment. While there is a heated debate going on about whether real fur is completely bio-degradable, as the industry claim, or not, a no longer wanted fake fur is definitely a problem - you could just as well throw a few kilos of plastic into the sea. So why not skip fur altogether - apart from vintage furs, of course.
Invest in quality.
The most sustainable way of life is by not buying anything. But to live like a monk with no wants or needs is wishful thinking, of course. This is why the most important thing is to invest in quality, not quantity. Buy garments that fit perfectly and complement your existing wardrobe and colour scheme. The most important factor, though, is love: you should be entirely sure this is not just a fashion-fling (we mean, I-want-to-be-with-you-forever-love). The more expensive the garment, the more you will ask yourself if you really want and need it. So, skip the occasional shopping for your next motto party or wedding at fast fashion chains. And go for real value, because you are worth it! Another plus is that high-quality garments can easily be fixed or altered by a tailor, in case you lose or gain one size or two.
Choose your cause.
Plastic destroys the oceans. Cotton production needs a lot of water. Getting to know everything about the conditions of textile workers is an almost impossible task, so to live entirely sustainable is kind of a full-time job. Instead of giving up before you even begin, ask yourself: what is the essential aspect dear to your heart? Then stick to it. If you cannot stand the thought of wearing something that has been produced in precarious conditions, buy only labels committed to making their production chain transparent. If it breaks your heart knowing that merino sheep have suffered for your sweater, do some research and buy your sweater only from labels that buy their wool from mulesing-free farmers. And if you want to empower women, opt for brands that do precisely this. This form of self-discipline only has advantages: it will limit your array of choice. And it will motivate you to make an effort. The more you ask for transparency in the shops, the more pressure the labels will feel.
No matter how careful you are when it comes to shopping - the eco-friendliness of your wardrobe also depends on how you treat it. Let´s talk about a very mundane task: washing. Firstly, the lower the temperature, the less energy used and the longer your clothes will last. But it does not stop there - because every time you wash, your garments shed microfibers - the much-talked-about microplastic - that will eventually end up in the ocean. So do what you like most: shop. Buy a Cora ball - it is a genius invention that you just throw into the washing machine with your laundry, and it catches the microfibers. Or use a washing bag, especially for your sportswear. Oh, and there are also bio-degradable detergents out there. They are not only better for the environment, but they are also better for you.