How to Shop Sustainably and Stylishly

The journey to living life more sustainably can be an elusive one. Fashion brands everywhere are dedicating new lines of clothing to more ethical and sustainable means of production, but what does sustainability mean? According to environmentalscience.org, sustainability means “to protect our natural environment, human and ecological health, while driving innovation and not compromising our way of life.” When fashion brands claim to be sustainable, they should be creating garments that are eco-friendly, long-lasting and made ethically. However, some brands that claim sustainability are not being completely truthful. Therefore, the burden is often placed on consumers to ensure that they are shopping ethically. Consumers can play a huge role in how sustainable fashion can be. Though making sure everything in your closet is sustainable can be intimidating, here are a few easy steps you can take to do your part. 

 

1. Donate, not throw away

Woman holding sweaters and jumpers    Clothes and shoes blue donation bin drop off

There’s no debate that the fashion industry is one of the biggest contributors to waste. 85% of all textiles end up in landfills. The average person wears something only seven times before throwing it away. 

There are several ways to donate clothes, be it to shelters or consignment stores. Even if you have designer clothes that you no longer believe fit your closet or style anymore, shops like Repurpose offer the opportunity for you to donate these clothes, which will in turn support charities fighting systemic racism and aiding in COVID relief.


2. Read the tags

Person holding a clothing tag that says 'Made In China'

Synthetic fibers found in many clothes today are harmful to the environment. When clothes are washed, these fibers get into the water supply and end up in oceans. More than 500 thousand tons of fibers are found in the ocean each year. Synthetic fibers makeup 65% of our clothes and are usually found in polyester.

Cotton is also a dangerous fabric for the planet, as its production requires hundreds of gallons of water to be used. A single pair of jeans needs more than 1,600 gallons of water to be made. They also require a lot of fertilizer and pesticides to meet the fashion industry’s need, which leads to further contamination of water. 

Some fabrics that are not only sustainable but long-lasting as well, are organic cotton, cashmere, wool, linen and silk. Here’s a great article about how to find high-quality clothing.


3. Invest in high-quality classic pieces

Fast fashion thrives from the coming-and-going of trends. What’s in today may be out tomorrow and many people want to keep up with trends. However, having a wardrobe of classic pieces will reduce your need to buy what’s on-trend and, ultimately reduce your need to throw out-of-style clothes away.

So what qualifies as a classic piece? These are basic items that can be mixed and matched with each other to create stylish outfits. A wardrobe of classic pieces often includes jeans, loafers, cardigans, black pumps, a trench coat, plain white T-shirts, a blazer, tailored button-ups and a little black dress. Many of these items should be neutral colors like black, white, gray or tan. They can all be dressed up or down with accessories like jewelry, hats and handbags and they will never go out of style. Investing in high-quality classic pieces may mean rarely having to shop for new clothes.

This infographic from classyyettrendy.com is a great resource for classic wardrobe pieces. 

Classic Wardrobe Guide from classyyettrendy.com


4. Buy second-hand

     

You can donate your clothes and also purchase donated clothes! You can find some amazing pieces at thrift and consignment stores. All it takes is some time and dedication. If you feel as if you don’t have the eye to find something you like, visit websites like Pinterest and Instagram to get inspiration for outfits. In no time you’ll be able to spot clothes that you’ll love.

Repurpose has a collection of designer and luxury clothing items that are all second-hand.

   

5. Find a good tailor or learn how to sew

Woman getting her waist measured by a tailor     Woman sewing a garment with a sewing machine

When you buy second-hand, it may be difficult to find items that fit you perfectly. Finding a tailor can greatly enhance your wardrobe, as they will be able to alter the clothes you find to make them your correct size.

You can also learn how to tailor your clothes. This is a great opportunity to learn a fun hobby that will ultimately help you be more stylish and sustainable! Several internet resources can teach you how to sew. On YouTube, there are thousands of videos that offer insightful, step-by-step instructions on all aspects of sewing.


Repurpose is committed to raising funds to fight COVID-19 and systemic policy racism by partnering with the following organizations. Net proceeds of online sales will go to the following organizations.  

Campaign Zero  

Hearts of Gold 

Morning Side Center  

 

Blog post by Kayla Sabre

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