Fast fashion not only causes damage to the environment, such as contaminating our water resources, and polluting our air with plastic microfibers, but it also violates human rights, from child labor to extreme working conditions, to name a few. That’s why shifting our focus to build a sustainable wardrobe has become imperative.
What Is “Sustainable Wardrobe” Anyway?
A sustainable wardrobe refers to clothes that are manufactured, distributed, and used in environmentally friendly ways. Some consumers also refer to sustainable fashion as ethical fashion because they preserve the human rights of their workers.
Building a sustainable wardrobe means you depend solely on clothes that don’t contribute to harming the environment through emissions and waste, as well as clothing brands that don’t violate their workers’ basic human rights.
How to Build a Sustainable Wardrobe
Choose Eco-Friendly Fabrics
You need to know what kind of fabrics is good for the environment and what is not. So, you essentially want to focus on natural materials that are biodegradable.
For example, organic cotton, linen, hemp, wool, silk, wool, viscose, rayon, etc. are all-natural and don’t cause any harm to the environment.
However, materials like polyester and nylon are harmful as they’re made from petrochemicals. Additionally, regular cotton isn’t a good option as it’s wasteful, pollutes the environment, and harms human health.
In fact, regular cotton endangers the environment as it consumes a lot of water during its farming, and it also accounts for 16% of all insecticides, 4% of all nitrogen and phosphorous fertilizers, and 7% of all herbicides that exist worldwide.
Select C2C certified products
Here are the five principles set by Cradle to Cradle® (C2C), a design framework that calls for shifting the perception about products from doing “less bad” (eco-efficiency) to doing “more good” (eco-effectiveness):
- Material health – ensuring that materials are safe for humans and the environment
- Product circularity – contributing to making a circular economy that promotes zero waste
- Clean air and climate protection – promoting renewable energy and reducing harmful emissions
- Water and soil stewardship – safeguarding the soil and water resources from pollution
- Social fairness – respecting the fundamental human rights and contributing to a fair society
Buy with Mindfulness
Fast fashion promotes producing as many collections as possible so that consumers will be stuck in buying mindlessly. So if you want to build a sustainable wardrobe, make sure that you’re not buying just for the sake of it.
Instead, you want to reuse your clothes as much as possible before you start buying new ones.
(Bonus Tip from Porch.com) Avoid Greenwashing
The term “greenwashing” refers to companies that claim to be eco-friendly, but they’re actually not following the proper processes. Brands should be open and honest, offering their sustainability reports to consumers.
If a brand uses eco-friendly packaging, but their clothing isn’t sustainable, that’s also greenwashing. Even luxury brands can be guilty.
For example, several years ago, the designer Burberry burned unused clothing, bags, and cosmetics rather than selling them at a discount or giving it away.
Use websites like Environmental Working Group, Rank a Brand, and the Fashion Transparency Index to help you find a legitimate brand that sells sustainable clothing.
Top 3 Affordable Sustainable Wardrobe Stores
- Pact – this brand is GOTS certified for organic fabrics, certified for fair trade, and has eco-friendly production
- Quince – this brand is known for its fair labor and wages, OEKO-TEX certified for sustainable materials, and has eco-friendly packaging
- Happy Earth – this a Certified B Corp brand that uses carbon-free ethically made organic materials
Yes, building a sustainable wardrobe needs some extra work so that you know that you’re positively contributing to the environment and underprivileged people, but at the end of the day, it’s worth educating yourself about because once you know, it’ll no longer sound daunting to you.