The word “sustainable fashion” gets thrown around a lot these days, but what does it really mean? In order to make your wardrobe more sustainable, you need to figure out what aspect of sustainability is the most important to you. Perhaps you care that your clothes were produced in an ethical factory or that your clothes left no negative impacts on the environment. Once you establish your priorities with some knowledge, you can take your first steps at building a more sustainable wardrobe!

1. Eco-Friendly Brands over Fast Fashion

Fast fashion is  mass production of cheap clothing, a trend exacerbated by an influx of retailers such as H&M and Forever21. This industry is definitely a marketer’s dream, supported by consumers with a voracious appetite for inexpensive attire. It is an ever-booming industry selling cheap clothes, and, for many people, buying cheap clothing is a no brainer. However, buying clothes from these fast fashion brands not only leaves you horrified at the fact that you’ve bought the same t-shirt in three different colors, but it also leaves a terrible impact on the environment. According to Forbes Magazine, the fast fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world, only second to the oil sector. These mass produced garments are responsible for over 400% more carbon emissions per item per year than garments worn 50 times and kept for a full year. Not only that, but a quarter of the chemicals produced on Earth are used in fast fashion textiles, and those textiles are then thrown into landfills if they are not utilized. Some alternative, eco-friendly brands are Levis, Everlane, and Reformation. All three of these clothing lines are actively working towards conserving and recycling their raw materials rather than throwing them away. 

2. Investing in Wardrobe Staples

We all know that sinking feeling of price tag shock, but investing in some of those pricey items will make you a much savvier shopper. Your wallet will thank you, too. For the price of one or two outfits at a fast fashion store that will last you about a year at most, pieces from more quality-based brands will last much longer. This tip isn’t to condone splurging on a 400 dollar white t-shirt, but finding well-made items will hold much more value than spending money on clothes that ride the fleeting trends. Another study from Forbes Magazine shows that the average American discards about seventy pounds of clothing every year, taking a toll on the environment. That’s why it is so essential that we purchase clothing we know will last and not end up in the trash. Some basic wardrobe staples are jeans, simple t-shirts, and plain knits. Once you find some quality, versatile pieces, you’ll notice that it’s much easier to dress up or down because you can build on those basic pieces. 

3. Thrifting

Thrifting has found popularity among many young people recently, and it has for good reasons! Thrift shopping is important for the environment because wearing used clothing reduces waste and pollution. For every piece of second-hand clothing, one less new one is produced, which is important because the production of clothing is very costly to the environment. Producing synthetic fibers like polyester requires lots of energy and also releases negative byproducts ranging from toxic gases to toxic chemicals. Thrifting also allows room for creativity, since thrifted clothing most likely does not come in multiples. You’re bound to find some great items, so get creative! And of course, thrifting allows for consumers to find quality items for less! 

Although these steps to sustainability may not be for everyone, it’s important that we are making conscious decisions about the clothes we buy and the industries we support. You can save the planet and look good too!