Being fashion forward isn’t just about keeping up to date with the latest styles. It’s also about the way consumers and businesses behave when interacting with the clothing sector. One of the most important elements to consider at the moment is the impact of fashion on the environment. Currently, the fashion industry accounts for 8-10% of global carbon emissions. This is to say nothing of its deforestation, fuel usage and waste production. As such, the future of fashion really has to be about consumers and businesses adopting green practices. Unless there is action from both sides now, the consequences for this generation and those following could be disastrous. The good news is that there are steps you can take to make sure you have the most positive environmental impact, whether you’re buying clothes for your own closet or producing them.
We’ve put together a few tips for rocking your sustainable closet with effective approaches to green fashion.
In the Stores
For the most part, cultivating your green closet will start with your purchasing decisions. Start with becoming familiar with the more sustainable choices of materials. Check the labels for organically-sourced cotton, hemp and linen. Generally, it’s best to avoid synthetic materials wherever possible. However, if manufacturers utilize recycled synthetics this can be slightly better than newly produced fabrics. Fortunately, more stores are starting to stock these materials as a result of the rising demand for sustainable fashion. But it’s important to make these checks before buying.
Alongside more discerning material choices, you need to be conscious of the businesses you buy from. By purchasing a company’s clothes, you are investing in their methods and ethics, too. Do your research on both fashion manufacturers and clothes. Remember that sustainability isn’t just about being environmentally conscious, it’s also about maintaining high ethical standards. So, check out each company’s labor practices and operations abroad. You’ll often find most ethical and green companies have a lot of detail on their websites and social media about the efforts they go to.
You should note, though, that buying new doesn’t always make for the most sustainable closet. Each new garment or accessory you buy goes through a manufacturing process, which in turn puts additional pressure on the ecosystem. Wherever possible, you should augment the new clothes in your wardrobe with those from consignment or thrift stores. When you have finished with these pieces, you should take them to thrift stores or recycle them and continue the positive cycle.
In the Home
Your commitment to sustainable fashion and beauty also needs to extend to your actions at home. After all, your clothes are an integral part of your everyday life. Your relationship with them doesn’t end as soon as you leave the store.
Adopt practices to make your clothing items last longer. This doesn’t mean to say you’re going to be wearing out-of-style garments way past their intended usage. But you should certainly be thinking beyond a single season.
At the very least, make sure you’re treating the staples not so reliant on current styles — jeans, t-shirts, underwear, coats, etc. — in a way that extends their life span. Don’t wash or dry clean these items too often and use a delicates bag in your washer. Make sure you store off-season items in bags that keep them safe from pests. This ensures you’re not unnecessarily purchasing new items.
It’s also worth keeping your storage space to a minimum. If you have a small closet, you aren’t likely to overbuy items without recycling others in your collection. This doesn’t mean to say you can’t fit a lot into a small wardrobe. You can maximize the closet space you have by utilizing tools like compression bags and hanger chains. Though, the most important way to use this space is through regular decluttering. Be strict about not buying new items unless you’re going to recycle others.
Behind the Scenes
It’s not just your actions as a consumer you need to be cognizant of. If you also work in the fashion industry or are even developing your own brand, you must adopt green measures. After all, it is the industrial sectors that tend to be the cause of most environmental damage at the moment.
Work with your suppliers to establish high sustainability standards for your raw materials. There are companies specializing in collecting and distributing recycled fabrics. While the processing of these can still have a significant impact, it tends to be less harmful than the full production of new materials. It’s also vital to establish efficiency within your operations, cutting down on the emissions and energy expenditure that results from each garment made.
Packaging is another key area of concern when it comes to sustainable fashion. Whether you’re packaging individual products or arranging shipping, it’s important to minimize the impact your choices have. Your company can achieve carbon neutrality in your packaging with relatively simple steps. This includes making certain your packaging dimensions are designed not to use excess materials. There should also be clear instructions for how the customer can recycle or sustainably dispose of the materials.
A sustainable closet doesn’t need to be an overwhelming prospect. You can achieve high green standards with your fashion by paying attention to sustainable materials and the ethics of manufacturers. It’s also important to consider how you can live with the items you buy in a more environmentally-friendly way. Manufacturers, too, have a role in ensuring they minimize unnecessary packaging and collaborating with suppliers to source green fabrics. When everyone takes their responsibilities seriously, there’s a chance for the fashion industry to be a positive presence in our ecosystem.