A Few Simple Tips to Make Your Wardrobe More Sustainable

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yellow-dress-summer-style-sundress-jean-jacket

In celebration of Earth Day today, I wanted to share a blog post centered on sustainability in fashion. I imagined this post featuring photos taken in the beautiful Rocky Mountains to celebrate the wonder and awe of Mother Nature, but of course, the rainy and snowy weather of the past few weeks had different plans for me. I do have to admit, though, that I am a little apprehensive to publish this blog post… Why? Because talking about sustainability in fashion seems like an oxymoron. After all, we all know that the fashion industry is a major polluter to the environment and a huge emitter of greenhouse gases. Fashion blogging itself, something that I am so passionate about, is often inherently contradictory to the goals of sustainability and ‘green living’. So as fashion lovers, how can we reconcile this?

{Hand-Me-Down Dress}

I’m not going to pretend like I am the most eco-conscious consumer out there. Not even close. I’m also not going to pretend like individual action will have that large of an impact on the state of the climate, as I have taken enough sustainability and climate change classes by now to know that corporations shoulder most of the blame. But hey, taking some individual action is still better than nothing, right?

Also, this post is not designed to throw shade or make anyone feel guilty about their fashion habits, rather, I just wanted to share a few tips that I have easily implemented to make my own wardrobe just a little greener. I hope you enjoy and find a little inspiration, too!

falling-leaves-elephant-purse-thrifted-flannel

{Thrifted Flannel}

{Hand-Me-Down Sweater}

black heart print dress, green belt, green necklace

{Hand-Me-Down Dress}

Thrift More.

While I grew up wearing lots of hand-me-downs, the first time I went thrifting was to purchase my sophomore year homecoming dress from a local consignment shop. Ever since, I have loved finding unique items in secondhand stores, especially dresses for fancy occasions! Today’s post is comprised of photos of some of my favorite thrifted items from over the years (click the link below each pic to see the original post). While I admittedly still do not turn to thrift stores for basic items like jeans, I really want to start shopping at them more predominantly. Not only are they super affordable with unique pieces, but buying clothes secondhand is so much better for the environment than buying something new off the rack. Plus, it’s just so much fun! I’ve mentioned before that thrift shopping is like going on a treasure hunt, and that is my very definition of a good time.

Rethink Trendiness.

Y’all already know that I’m not very trendy when it comes to fashion (or really anything, for that matter), and you can read all my reasons for that in this blog post. But one very good reason to rethink being trendy is the impact that trends have on the environment. When new styles are released once or even twice every season, the fast fashion industry convinces us that our old clothes ‘aren’t good enough anymore’ and that we should replace them with something in style. I’m definitely guilty of falling for this! But unless you’re willing to look noticeably dated by wearing trends long after they’re no longer ‘in’ (also me), trendy clothes are designed to be worn once or twice before either falling apart or being discarded. That is the true definition of unsustainable.

purple mauve tulle prom dress

{Consignment Prom Dress}

tweed-thrifted-blazer-spring-transitional-outfit

{Poshmark Blazer}

turquoise-top-pink-purse-umbrella-print-maxi-skirt

{Hand-Me-Down Skirt}

Repair Your Clothes.

In the sustainability class I took last fall, one of the assignments was to interview a grandparent about what it was like when they grew up (in relation to resource use, sustainable practices, etc.). Something that my grandpa mentioned that really stuck with me is how resourceful people used to be—if something broke, you fixed it yourself! But nowadays, on the other hand, people are so quick to throw out pieces the second they’re no longer perfect and to replace them with new ones. So next time one of your garments rips or gets a stain in it, try repairing it yourself. Hand-stitching a hole is not difficult (especially now that YouTube exists), and stained pieces can become the perfect item for your next tie-dye or DIY project. I have a box of ripped clothing items to repurpose in other projects, and I even made a facemask out of old pajama pants that had stretched out! Plus, if you search “upcycling” on Pinterest, the cute ideas for repurposing clothing are endless.

Wear Items More Than Once Between Washes.

I am a big advocate for wearing jeans two or three times between washes. Same with sweatshirts, pajamas, and sometimes even sweaters. Do some people think this is gross? Probably. But as long as you didn’t sweat a bunch or eat really smelly food, there’s no reason not to rewear pieces between washes. (That’s what perfume is for, right?) Running the washing machine uses a lot of water and energy, and I have read that laundering your clothes is a huge contributor to an individual item’s carbon footprint, even more so than the production of that item. Plus, less laundry = less work for you, and not washing after every wear helps your clothes last longer.

Choose Quality.

Choosing quality pieces over fast fashion is easier said than done, especially if you’re like me and know nothing about fabric types. However, lots of items are cheaply made if they are super thin, if they have a lot of static cling, if the patterns don’t match up at the seams, if sheer items are not lined, etc. This graphic has some helpful tips on spotting quality clothing as well. Buying pieces that will last, instead of cheaply made trendy items season after season, is a much more sustainable approach to fashion.

red dress, bow dress, thrifting, fun things to do on Valentine's Day

{$1 Thrifted Dress}

fourth-july-outfit-navy-dress

{$1 Thrifted Dress}

summer-style-woven-clutch-white-blouse-affordable-style

{Hand-Me-Down Top}

Take Care of Your Clothes.

Going off the previous point, you have to be taking care of your clothing properly and reading the tags when doing laundry. This is kind of a pet peeve of mine. Oh, your favorite sweater shrunk? I have no sympathy because you didn’t. follow. directions! The best way to make your clothing last is to wash and store it properly, and if that means handwashing it in the sink per instructions, then that’s what ya gotta do. I always hear girls talk about items they purchased at stores like Forever 21 and how they “just fell apart” after a few washes. While I have never shopped at Forever 21, I have bought plenty of cheap clothes in my lifetime, and even the most cheaply made pieces will not fall apart so easily if you are washing them correctly. Aside from workout wear and casual clothing (and pieces that need to be handwashed, like bras), I would argue that everything you throw in the washer should be put on the delicate cycle. All of my collared shirts, blouses, dresses, skirts, etc. are washed this way to keep them in tip-top shape. And you should also…

Hang Dry Everything.

In addition to washing my clothes on the delicate cycle, I also hang everything up to dry. For one, the dryer machine uses a lot of unnecessary energy that leaves a much bigger carbon footprint for each clothing item. But two—and this is admittedly the reason I started air drying everything years ago—is because it’s so much better for your clothing! You would be surprised by how many items are supposed to be line-dried per the instructions on the tag. Plus, then you don’t have to worry about accidentally shrinking your favorite piece. And if you live in a dorm and share a dryer with an entire building, the dryer smells funky and is kinda gross to begin with. Skip the hassle and money. I just use one of these drying racks, and if I run out of space on that, I hang items on the shower curtain rod in my bathroom!

black-corduroy-skirt-rust-sweater-side-braid

{Hand-Me-Down Sweater}

pantone-colors-year-illuminating-yellow

{Hand-Me-Down Sweater}

magenta-dress-white-handbag-hair-scarf-white-sandals-vintage-style

{Thrifted Dress, Vintage Purse}

Wash All of Your Clothes on Cold.

Okay, my last laundry tip for the day, but you should also be washing everything on cold. Doing loads of laundry with hot water is such a huge waste of energy, especially considering that most tags on clothing items call for cold water anyway. And in my experience, even if something says you should wash it on warm/cold or another setting, cold/cold will work just fine (whereas, washing something with hot water when it explicitly says to wash it with cold water can decrease the longevity of the item and lead to shrinking). This is such an easy change to implement to make your wardrobe a little greener!

Learn From the Clothing You Donate.

When you get rid of clothing, for any reason, pay attention to why you are donating those pieces. If you no longer wear an item, is it because it’s no longer trendy? Did you only wear it once? Did the item not launder well or did the seams start coming undone? Was it too static-y? These are all important questions to ask yourself when cleaning out your closet because they can help you make more sustainable and informed decisions when shopping in the future. If you find yourself constantly giving away items from a certain store, you should probably stop shopping there. And if you have noticed that you can’t stand clothing that gets static-y (which I have found is common with cheaper fabrics), then pay attention to that particular fabric blend and avoid it in the future. The more you love the pieces already in your closet, the less you will have to get rid of in the long run and the less you will have to buy.

Midge Maisel outfits, green accessories, green gloves, 1950s style

{Vintage Purse, Belt, Gloves, and Earrings}

skirt-suit-thrifted-poshmark-circle-purse

{Poshmark Skirt Suit}

camo-button-down-maroon-purse-black-tank

{Hand-Me-Down Camo Shirt}

As I disclaimed at the start of this post, I still have a long way to go in making my love of fashion more sustainable. But hopefully these tips are a little more manageable than simply saying ‘stop buying from fast fashion’. While there are certain stores that are undoubtedly concerning with their extremely low prices and poor treatment of workers, such as SheIn, Forever 21, and Boohoo, there are other stores with normal prices that also contribute to the problem. Buying from more expensive brands does not necessarily mean they are sustainable or treating their workers any better, and unfortunately, truly ethical brands are still not very accessible to most of us. My point? Refusing fast fashion is a lot easier said than done. That’s why I wanted today’s post to focus on much more realistic tactics that we can all start easily implementing right now.

At the end of the day, we need to rethink our relationship to fashion. Rather than always wanting the newest and trendiest items, we should be falling back in love with the pieces already in our closet, season after season. For me, finding new ways to style old pieces has always been the fun and challenge of fashion anyways. And, as the founder of the Fashion Revolution movement Orsola de Castro stated, “The most sustainable garment is the one already in your wardrobe.”

Blair Waldorf style, Blair Waldorf outfit

{Thrifted Blazer, Hand-Me-Down Pearls}

pink-kate-spade-purse-green-dress-sundress

{$1 Thrifted Dress}

black beaded gown, silver block heels

{Hand-Me-Down Prom Dress}

In other news, thank you so much to everyone who participated in last week’s linkup! I was so excited to see such a high turn-out. Be sure to link up your most recent posts this week, too:

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Thank you so much for stopping by today, and have a happy Earth Day!

 

Miles of smiles,
Grace

20 comments on “A Few Simple Tips to Make Your Wardrobe More Sustainable”

  1. These are good tips and I really like that quote – I try remind myself of it when I’m thinking about new things to buy – see if I can rewear what I already have instead! 🙂

    It’s so rare to have a dryer here too – so much better hanging things out in the sun to dry!

    Thanks for the link up 🙂

    Hope that you are having a lovely week 🙂

  2. Don’t forget to say something about your link up on your stories! I knew your post came out when your email told me but maybe not everyone is subscribed. And yay for a good turnout last week! I really enjoyed your post and your practical tips especially the laundry ones. I need to check whether might is set to cold/cold! I do use the dryer for most everything, too much laundry here! I do the smell test for some stuff and don’t wash everything everytime I wear it just like you. I am trying to be smarter with my shopping too and learn what works for me. Some items that I have had for years and still wear all the time are my guidelines! I am also trying to thrift every other month for fun and to sometimes relieve the shopping itch!
    http://www.chezmireillefashiontravelmom.com

    1. Ahh thank you Mireille!! That is such a good point. I have been so bad at Instagram lately and haven’t been on hardly at all, but I will definitely try to remember to share to my stories next week. And that totally makes sense that you have too much laundry to hang dry! It does take up so much space… And same, I love thrifting for when I get that itch to shop. I need to go find something floral and thrifted for May’s Thrifty Six collab!

  3. Grace, this is a fabulous post! I really enjoyed reading all of the ways to make your personal style choices more sustainable. I have a long way to go as well but I do try my best to reduce my carbon footprint. I also wear most things more than once before washing…basically everything except my underwear gets at least 2 wears before washing. And I hang almost everything to dry as well. Except towels and underwear and socks. I don’t like how hard the towels and socks get when you hang them to dry. And during the warm months, I hang everything outside and I don’t like my undies hanging out there! Haha. I also love that your love for thrifting started during your sophomore year of high school…because that is exactly when my thrift shop love began…in 9th or 10th grade when I moved to a new school district and I met some really cool friends who were into thrifting. It was a way that I could find cool styles for prices we could afford. Gosh, I just love it! Thanks for writing this post!

    Shelbee
    http://www.shelbeeontheedge.com

    1. Oh my gosh that’s so true Shelbee, why do towels get hard like that?! Haha that always cracks me up. I actually usually dry towels as well. And that’s so fun that your thrifting journey started at the same time! Thanks for stopping by today’s post. 🙂

  4. These are such fantastic tips and a great way to celebrate Earth Day, Grace. One of the first rules of sustainable shopping for me is to only buy what I need and will wear often. Second – knowing that the commitment to the environment and sustainability varies enormously from brand to brand, I always do some homework before I shop. Doing some research on how and where the clothes I am planning on purchasing are manufactured helps me with decision making, too. There’s nothing better then investing in more versatile and more timeless pieces; it’s good for the planet and your purse, too. Thanks for sharing and have a good day. Aiva 🙂 xxx

    1. Thank you for your comment Aiva! That is such a good point – we should be buying less in the first place. That’s definitely something I need to work on! And good for you for doing research on shops, too. That’s another thing I am not very good about doing right now, but I plan on practicing and getting better at being mindful.

  5. Good for you, Grace! Being mindful of how we shop, why we shop, and the quality of the things we buy can help steer us towards better choices. I’d say 95% of my clothing is shopped second-hand, and I give away or donate all of my clothes that I’m tired of or don’t like anymore. It’s amazing the quality of things you can find, once you start to educate yourself on good quality fabric and construction. You would not believe the designer stuff I find!

    1. Thank you Sheila! That’s so awesome that such a huge percentage of your wardrobe is thrifted. When I do get that itch to shop, I need to start going to thrift stores instead of real stores! I also really want to get into upcycling pieces, for both the fun and the added environmental benefit. Thanks for stopping by the post and linking up!

  6. This is such a good post! Love all of these sustainability tips! I love thrifting and need to do that more often. I hang dry all of my tops and sweaters. I think doing that along with washing every few wears also extends the life of the piece too! Pinning this!

    Jill – Doused in Pink

  7. This is a brilliant post Grace! I wash almost everything on 30c and always wear clothes more than once before washing. Clothes that have dried on the line always smell so much nicer than when they’ve been in the the tumble dryer…well, unless my husband has the BBQ going! You’ve found some fantastic preloved pieces, you look lovely in every one of these outfits!
    Emma xxx
    http://www.style-splash.com

    1. Thank you so much Emma!! And so true, line dried items smell so much fresher! Thanks for stopping by the blog. 🙂

  8. This is such a great post! I know we can’t all be totally 100 percent sustainable but it’s good if we start doing all these little things and work our way towards it. Thank you for sharing!

    Life is a Shoe

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