How to Shop More Sustainably and Environmentally for Clothes

Tips to Shop More Sustainably and in Environmentally Conscious Ways, When Working on your Wardrobe

By Lilly Miller

In order to preserve the planet and reduce your negative impact on the environment, it’s necessary to be ecologically aware of all aspects of your life. This means that it’s not just enough to recycle, drive less and avoid using plastic straws. Your wardrobe should also reflect your eco-friendly standpoint.

Of course, this doesn’t mind that you should give up on the following fashion altogether, or that you should wear clothes you don’t truly like at all. In fact, there are several changes you can make in order to be more environmentally conscious when shopping for clothes. Here are some of the easiest and most logical ones.

Always Look for Natural Materials

No matter how good a piece of clothing may look, if it’s made from one of the fibers that fall under the synthetic group, you might simply want to skip it.

Textiles made of polyester, spandex or rayon are huge polluters, as they usually can’t biodegrade at all, which is why, when it comes to buying them, you should consider them quite similar to using plastic cups or single-use shopping bags. Instead, you should always reach for those clothes made from natural fabrics, such as cotton, wool, hemp, or linen.

You can take it a step further and ask for those made of organic cotton. This may require some research, but don’t be lazy. With nothing more than using a search engine on your computer, you can find all the information you could ever need about a product and its origins. This way, you’ll prevent unnecessary amounts of synthetic fabrics from ending up in landfills and, eventually, in the oceans.

How to Shop More Sustainably: woman in mask shopping for clothes
Photo by Arturo Rey on Unsplash

Buy What You Need

How many times have you bought something because you saw it, thought it was irresistible, and you just had to have it, right there and then?

Buying things you want, rather than those you actually need, is never a good idea, as it harms the environment as much as it does your finances. So, when you see something you really want to purchase, give it some time and some thought. How often will you wear it? Is it comfortable and practical enough for you to wear it over and over again? If not, perhaps this particular item isn’t for you after all.

Again, this doesn’t mean that you should never buy anything you like but bear in mind that, no matter how cute something looks, at first sight, there are so many other options out there, and maybe some of them are smarter and a more appealing choice than that skirt you aren’t sure where, when or if you’ll wear or that you’ll even have something to combine with.

The key is finding the proper balance between what you want and what you need at a certain point, which you can reach if you become slightly more mindful when shopping for clothes.

Consider Multi-Purpose Pieces

Buying a single item of clothing instead of three different ones can do wonders for your budget and your closet space while reducing potential waste down the line.

There are some pieces you can wear in different situations and on a wide range of occasions. One excellent example are women’s stretchy tights. These can now be bought in a wide variety of colors and patterns, making them plenty of fun to incorporate into any style you’re after. Gone are the times when women only wore them while exercising.

Nowadays, tights allow you to look good and feel amazing while working out at your local gym and still have a stylish clothing piece to wear with your ankle boots and an oversized sweater, whether you’re going to work or on an afternoon coffee date with a friend.

Investing in such a functional, yet attractive item of clothing, instead of buying two, three, or more of them, should be easy enough and can have a positive effect on nature, especially if you make this your regular practice.

Think Vintage

Spending a fortune on new clothes may sound like fun, but take a moment to think back at all the times you went out and saw a bunch of other people with the exact same clothes you’re wearing.

Mass-production of clothes leaves an enormous carbon footprint, but it also means that there’s a high chance you’ll look like pretty much half the club this weekend. These should be reasons enough for you to begin frequenting thrift stores and flea markets. In addition, there are now plenty of vintage stores for you to browse through when searching for that old-school piece you’ve been dying to get your hands on for a while.

These clothes tend to be second-hand ones, which isn’t something that should bother you. Just because somebody gave up on a piece of clothes, doesn’t mean that you won’t love it and that you can’t give it a brand-new life by mixing it with what you already own.

Not only does this provide you with an amazing opportunity to come across some unique and interesting apparel, sometimes even true gems, but you can save money and keep something beautiful and useful from being discarded.

Get More Trans-Seasonal Clothes

Although you may be clear on the reasons why to buy sustainable fashion, you may still be confused about what makes certain clothes more sustainable than others in the first place.

For example, clothes that can only be worn during one season aren’t as eco-friendly as those you can wear all year long. Finding some quality clothes, that you can layer and wear across the seasons, in a plethora of combos, will benefit your wardrobe and the environment at the same time.

A long-sleeved shirt can work all year round if you wear a thick enough jacket over it in winter and you roll up your sleeves when the weather gets warmer. Similarly, a short-sleeved dress can also be worn throughout the colder seasons, provided that you have a chic sweater to keep you from freezing when the temperatures go way down.

Keep this in mind when obtaining new clothes and look for dresses, jeans, but also wool or cashmere coats, which are breathable enough to be a part of your outfit even when the mornings are cold, but the afternoons still warm up.

How to Shop More Sustainably: clothes on a rack surrounded by indoor plants
Photo by Ksenia Chernaya:

Don’t Get Seduced by Trends

When you buy new clothes, the most eco-friendly thing you can do is wear it as often and for as long as you possibly can.

This can be tricky with trendy clothes, as something that’s highly fashionable at the moment may become old-fashioned in a matter of months, in which case it could soon get lost somewhere in the back of your closet until it becomes another piece of junk floating in our oceans.

Plus, dressing in trendy clothes increases the risk of you looking like the majority of people around you, which can make you all look uniformed and dull. If you want to veer away from such pieces, you should opt for the classic-design ones as an alternative. Producing new clothes requires resources and usually involves the use of different chemicals, and the transport of goods, in this case, clothes, is another thing that harms the environment significantly.

This can be prevented to some extent if you decide on timeless clothes, those that never go out of style and which you won’t dispose of as soon as the trend starts fading away. A basic cardigan, blue jeans, leggings or a little black dress are some great examples of clothes that you’ll look just as smart in today, as you will years from now.

Final Thoughts on Ways to Shop More Sustainably

With some wiser and more thoughtful decisions, you can follow the latest fashion, look amazing at all times, and lower your impact on the environment. These amazing tips will set you on the right course to do so, without too much effort on your side.

About the Author

Lilly Miller is a freelance writer, who focuses on interior design, well-being and sustainable living. She loves to experiment on daring new home decor trends and write about it as a regular contributor to Smooth Decorator. Settled in Sydney for the time being, Lilly shares home with two loving dogs and a gecko named Rodney. You can find her hanging out on Twitter.

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