With the world in the middle of a climate crisis, and people from all angles telling you how you can do your bit to save the planet, it can sometimes seem overwhelming. However, while small changes like reusable cups and bags and metal straws are extremely important, one of the easiest and most effective things you can change is how you shop. The fashion industry accounts for 5% of the global carbon emissions, while this may not seem like much, 5% is an extremely significant percentage for one sector and, in terms of countries, is almost equal to the whole of Russia. Obviously this needs to change, and while a lot of the responsibility falls to brands and designers to ensure their products are being made sustainably, there are smaller changes that we can make ourselves when it comes to the way we buy our clothes.
Of course, this is easier said than done but buying sustainable doesn’t just mean buying designer, there are a multitude of ways for the everyday person to make their wardrobe more environmentally friendly.
Buying from sustainable brands or collections
This may seem like the most obvious option but in fact a lot of people believe that in order to buy sustainable clothes you need to drop thousands on one piece, but in recent years there’s been a rise in mid-range, eco conscious brands such as Rixo, Ninety Percent, and new London based Palones. While these brands aren’t as cheap as high street alternatives, they certainly aren’t high-end designer expensive either, and its important to understand in today’s world of mass buying, that the way we consume fashion isn’t normal, so maybe instead of buying a £10 fast fashion dress every week, you can buy one dress from a more sustainable brand per season or per month.
This obviously isn’t possible for a lot of the population however, especially younger people or those in education, but thanks to the ever-growing awareness of our climate situation, many of our favourite high street brands are releasing new sustainable collections at extremely reasonable prices. Some examples of these include H&M’s new Conscious Collection and ASOS’s Responsible Edit, which they describe as using ‘recycled goods’ and ‘sustainable fabrics’. Obviously it’s only a small range of retailers offering these options at the moment, but due to growing demand hopefully we see an increase in incentives like this in future.
As previously mentioned, the rate at which we consume fashion in todays world isn’t healthy for the planet. We need to be aware that we shouldn’t be buying a new outfit for every event or a new top every week, and instead buying key pieces that will last us ages and can be worn and worn again. Obviously, in todays trend led world this is extremely difficult, and I don’t mean you have to stop buying fast fashion altogether, just simply cut down, and instead fill out your wardrobe with more timeless pieces that will last a lot longer. Once again this doesn’t mean buying expensive designer pieces, even just a few, good quality high street pieces will last ages if cared for properly and will more than make up for themselves the longer you have them.
Buying second hand or vintage
This is an option that’s very quickly growing in popularity as a lot of the time its not only saving the planet but also saving the consumer money. One of my favourite ways to shop second hand is through apps like Depop and Vinted but you shouldn’t dismiss things like eBay and charity shops as places your mum or gran might shop, as there are often great pieces to be found there. As well as this, Luxury consignment websites such as the RealReal and Vestaire Collective are allowing more and more people to purchase great designer pieces at a huge discount.
When it comes to vintage shopping things tend to get on the pricier side, however the products get better and more unique to make up for this. Apps like Depop and the RealReal are also great in terms of this however there’s been a real increase in local vintage shops opening on high streets across the country, something that I highly recommend looking into. As well as this, if you’re lucky enough to live in a city, there’s often huge vintage markets and clothes swaps that take place that would be great to go to.
Making your own clothes
Obviously, for the majority of us this isn’t very realistic, however for the lucky, talented few, or people who have the patience and willpower I’m lacking, this is a great option to make your wardrobe more sustainable. Not only do you have full freedom when it comes to styles and patterns etc, but you also have the choice of fabrics and textiles you use, therefore having the power to decide how eco conscious your clothes are, rather than relying on big designers and retailers to decide this for you.
Being aware of what you’re buying
Of course, it’s unreasonable to expect one person to make all of these changes, and we’re all guilty of splurging on fast-fashion bargains. The most important thing however, is to be aware of what you’re buying, how often you make use of the pieces you buy, and how you dispose of old clothes (e.g. recycle or donate them rather than throw them out). One simple way to keep track of things like this is the app ‘Good On You’, in which you can search any fashion brand and receive a report on how sustainable they are, based on different factors. Using an easy tool like this allows us to access a magnitude of information and become aware of the different factors that allow a brand to be truly eco-conscious, and which of our favourite retailers are up to scratch. What’s most surprising is that some of the worst offenders in terms of sustainability are the most luxurious, high-end brands such as Chanel and Dior, which further emphasises that sustainability does not equal designer!
While no one is expected change everything about their buying habits, even just making a few of these simple changes every now and again makes a huge difference to our climate.