Having a sustainable wardrobe is easier than you think!
We’ve all heard about the doom and gloom of climate change, but one of the biggest culprits is the fashion industry. For many years, Fast Fashion, has been the easiest way for people to get the latest disposable trends without impacting their wallets. However, there is a cost to that $5 t-shirt or $10 jeans: one to the environment and to humanity. Recently, you have may have heard the news about H&M sitting on $4.3 BILLION in clothing because the fast fashion giant isn’t able to move their inventory. While getting that designer knock-off (oh wait, INSPIRED look), might be instant gratification or feeds that emotional spending habit, it is not without some thought.
Did you know:
- According to Fashion Revolution, a typical pair of blue jeans consumes 919 gallons of water during its life cycle.
- Plastic takes an average of 450 years to decompose; polyester a fabric made from plastic typically takes 200 years (goodoneyou.eco).
- On April 24, 2013, Rana Plaza Factory in Bangladesh collapsed killing over 1,100 people and injuring over 2,500 people bringing light to the human cost of cheap labor (fashionista.com).
I know. I know. I really didn’t want to bring this to your attention…well, I actually did! Most consumers pay attention to what they put in their bodies, but why don’t they invest that same attention to what they wear as their second skin.
Having a sustainable closet doesn’t have to an overwhelming event. Here are a few things you can start doing (baby steps) to be proud of your wardrobe.
- The first thing to do is take an inventory of your closet. Break out your items in the following categories: Keep, Donate and/or Sell. Be realistic. Believe it or not, for some people there is an emotional connection to the items in their wardrobe (and this means you; if it wasn’t important, you wouldn’t be spending your time reading this). Ask yourself: when was the last time you wore the garment? How did it feel on? Is it a staple, investment piece or major trendy trend (really, even if you rocked those parachute pants in the 80’s, how realistic are they to be rocked again)? Does it feel overwhelming? Make sustainable changes in baby steps—here’s a short video on how to get started <<CLICK HERE>>.
- You pay attention to food labels, read consumer reports for safety records on everything else you invest in, why aren’t you reading your clothing labels? It’s a small step in feeling good about what you wear…and with the new trade war between the US and China, who knows how cheap those imports will continue to be. If you are really looking at organic, recycled and upcycled brands here are a few you may or may not be aware of: Levi Strauss & Co, Stella McCartney, Patagonia, People Tree, Threads For Thought, Groceries, Mavi Jeans, People Tree and of course, Hopeless + Cause Atelier (review sustainablefashiondirectory.com, for more designers and brands). These brands not only invest in sustainable practices, but several have built-in giving back components. Several also source their materials and manufacture in the good ol’ USA, further reducing that carbon footprint. The brands vary from athletic wear, to jeans, to high end fashion for both men and women—all your wardrobe needs…YOU’RE WELCOME.
- Investment pieces – really you should invest in items you are going to wear more often and really want to make a good first impression in. Go to your local boutique or indie retailer (my local favs are: Retail Therapy, Toad Road, Izzy Martin and Kii–and guess what they are in a 1 block radius)! What makes them stand out is that they know what they are talking about when it comes to sustainability because their business model is based on it. The owners are also typically the buyers and are constantly looking for brands that you won’t find in the typical department store. Many of the lines they carry have sustainability baked in—clothing lines that manufactured on demand so there isn’t inventory overrun, lines that focus on recycled or organic material sourcing, or provide investment back into the environment or support charitable causes. They are also the first to invest in local designers. If you are looking for that unique look that fits you perfectly, commission a designer. Maybe you have something that doesn’t quite fit right or maybe needs an overall transformation. Designers, alteration specialists and seamstresses, can make it work for you. If you have a disposable income for your wardrobe, why not invest in yourself while providing a livable wage for a small business owner…something you can feel good about!
- If you are just starting out or don’t have a big budget for your wardrobe, you can still have a rocking closet. As Dr. Seuss so eloquently stated, “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” You can have an incredible, sustainable wardrobe on a budget and without investing in throw-away fashion. It is as easy as Poppin’ Tags! Well now, that I’ve got Macklemore playing in your brain, thrifting is all about the hunt. And when you find that treasure, it’s an incredible rush (let me tell you—I’ve found YSL, Oscar de la Renta, Burberry and Diane Von Furstenberg at U-N-B-E-L-I-V-A-B-L-E prices). Many of the local thrift shops are tied to non-profit organizations so your money is having more impact than you know. At consignment shops, you can find higher end options and/or sell what no longer works for you. Don’t have time for the hunt there are great on-line options too. My favorite is Poshmark (more details in making your wardrobe work for you below) and my GF and fashionista blogger, Jamie Lewinger of More than Turquoise, recently made me aware of the on-line thrift megaplace, Swap.com.
- Finally, make your wardrobe work for you. Read the care labels, really do you need to wash your jeans after every wear? Most jean brands advise against it, saying you should only wash after 3-4 normal wears. Is the garment, dry clean only? Look for cleaners that follow eco-friendly processes, which means less chemicals against your skin and back into the environment. If you had a large pile in that “Sell” category, take it to your local thrift or consignment shop and see what you can get for these items. Some local, Albuquerque, options are: Two Time Couture, Buffalo Exchange and Platos Closet. You can also set up your own “closet” on Poshmark. All you need are the basics: a few photos, brand name, size, and colors. You set the price and when you receive an offer, accept it or counter it. If the sale is made, Poshmark provides the shipping label and you drop it in the mail and collect your cash. Make a deal with yourself. Instead of adding to your closet or giving into that emotional spending habit, decide that you will only buy a new item when you donate or sell another item first, thus freeing up prime real estate in your wardrobe. Even better, save up for that investment piece that you’ve been dying for. Remember, you are worth it. Make it social, invite your friends over for a clothing swap. Ask them to bring 10 items (clothing, shoes and/or accessories), pop open the bubbles and have an impromptu fashion show. You’ll have new finds and someone else can rock those parachute pants.
With light and love,