When we decide we want to transition to a sustainable wardrobe, it might be tempting to think that the best and only way to start is to replace everything we own with more ethical and sustainable versions. And if you're just starting out, its easy to become discouraged by the potentially prohibitive cost of replacing every fast fashion piece that you own. But the good news is, we should never start from this place….and you might already be much closer to a sustainable wardrobe than you think.
A sustainable wardrobe is so much more than just owning sustainable brands. You can start anywhere, your sustainable wardrobe can and is likely to include fast fashion pieces and we definitely shouldn't 'consume our way to sustainability. So repeat after me "I can not consume my way to a sustainable wardrobe." A sustainable wardrobe is more about your attitude towards the clothes that you own and your behaviour around clothing consumption than it is about what you buy.
So here are 5 surprisingly simple and completely free hacks that are an important part of every sustainable wardrobe. And you can start now!
1. Til death do you part
Even if your wardrobe is full of fast fashion pieces, don't throw them out and start again. This is a waste and terrible for the environment. While they may not have been produced as ethically and sustainably as we would like, we should still aim to extract the maximum value from them. If you like them and think that you will continue to wear them, the best thing you can do is wear them to death. If they get holes, mend them. When you can no longer wear them out, wear them around home. And when you’re finally done with them, send them to a textile recycling organisation like Upparel. Then slowly over time, you can replace these items with more sustainable brands.
2. Let it repeat on you
Become an outfit repeater! There's some great hashatgs getting around on Instagram like #proudoutfitrepeater and #OOOTD (old outfit of the day) which remind us that it not only ok, but we should be proud of re-wearing our favourite items and outfits. The concept of a capsule wardrobe reinforces a sustainable mindset, which is to edit your wardrobe down to your favourite clothes. That is, clothes that reflect your lifestyle and your personal style. As well as pieces that are versatile and can be remixed with a number of other items to create new combinations from the same clothes. All of this is with the aim to shop less often and to shop more intentionally.
3. Old clothes need love too
Keep some 'round home clothes' for house work and jobs around the home. Keep your good clothes newer and nicer for longer. While it might mean multiple outfit changes some days, by looking after your good clothes and reusing your old clothes, you'll damage less (hello accidental bleach stain) and you'll buy less. Despite what you think, you won't exponentially increase your laundry load either. Which brings me to my next point…
4. Only wash clothes when they're dirty
Instead of washing every item after every single wear, check to see if it needs it first. Things like jeans, pants and jumpers aren't sitting that close to your skin or may not need to be washed every time you wear them. Look I'm going to be honest, I do this for every item of my clothes (with the exception of under garments). Give them a once over and just hang them back up if you think you can get another wear from it. There are so many benefits to doing this! You'll increase the longevity of your clothes, keep them in better condition, save on water and save yourself time by creating less sorting, hanging, folding and putting away to deal with. Trust me, its definitely ok!
5. Mindful mending
Channel our grandparents and learn to mend. Some tears and holes can be so easily fixed. There are so many great tutorials out there on Youtube about mending for all different types of damage in different fabrics. Your skill level doesn’t have to be great either. Some mending techniques are surprisingly easy, and mending can be invisible too! And what have you got to lose anyway? If you were just going to throw it out, the worst that can happen is that you do an average job and it becomes one of your 'round home' pieces. According to an article published by the Guardian 'four out of 10 people surveyed by YouGov said they had put unwanted fashion items in the bin, rather than trying to repair or recycle them'. This is such a sad statistic that we need to change, no clothing or textiles should ever end up in landfill. Unwanted fibres are a resource not a waste. But the textile recycling industry is very much in its infancy in Australia and options are currently limited. If you want to read more about some innovators in this space, check out our blog article here.
The best part is, none of these things cost you money, and will in fact save you money over time. The idea that we need to consume our way to a more sustainable wardrobe by replacing everything we have with sustainable items straight away is unhelpful.
We all have to start somewhere on our journey to becoming more conscious consumers. So don't be so hard on yourself when you realise that you can't do it all overnight. The behavioural shift that comes from taking small but intentional steps can be monumental in changing your consumption patterns. So even seemingly small actions have a huge impact.
Curious Kind: Baby & Kids Clothing | new or pre-loved | buy or borrow. Curate the cutest wardrobe, every season. Circular, sustainable, so adorable!