About The Author:
Em is a UK blogger focusing on blogging, business & sustainability on her blog “Love, Em“. With 4 years of experience in the blogging world, she is keen to share her knowledge. Emily is passionate about helping others, and since leaving college, has decided to put her passions in writing. You can find her social media links below the post!
Fast fashion is becoming an increasing problem when it comes to the environment. For us to have a better, greener future, we need to start pushing for eco-friendly fashion. If you’re not ready to give up your brands, there are still ways you can create an eco-friendly wardrobe. Unless you’re buying sustainably and living minimally, there’s no real way to become 100% sustainable with your fashion, but there are ways to improve. Here’s why you need to be shopping sustainable and how you can begin to create a more sustainable wardrobe!
Why We Need To Shop Sustainably
It’s easy to go into Primark and purchase a whole new wardrobe for £50, but do you know the real cost that has on people and the planet? I recently watched a documentary on Misguided which had created celebrities’ outfit in just a few days and had it on the shop weeks later. The impact that this process has is detrimental to the environment. Here are some statistics that really opened my eyes:
- The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries after fuel & oil. Some studies say it’s even more polluting than agriculture
- 336,000 tonnes of clothing get thrown away each year
- 20% of the world’s wastewater comes from textiles, 90% of which is dumped into developing countries rivers without treatment
- The fashion industry contributes to 10% of the global carbon emissions
- Each year we use 70 million barrels of oil on creating polyester clothing
- It takes 20,000 litres to make just one t-shirt and a pair of jeans
- Only 15% of our clothing is recycled or donated
- Only 10% of the clothes people donate to thrift stores or charities get sold, the rest goes to landfill
- The average woman has around $550 worth of unworn clothing in her wardrobe
- 85% of the plastic pollution in the ocean is due to microfibers from synthetic clothing
Ready to start making a change? Here’s how you can make a difference and start to create a sustainable wardrobe!
Become Educated On Fast Fashion & Greenwashing
Before you start making your sustainable wardrobe, you need to become educated on the issues at hand. There’s a lot to take in, but I’ve watched some amazing documentaries on sustainability and fast fashion which make things easier to understand. There are lots of educational documentaries out there, to help you learn about the issues we’re creating for the planet. The two key terms you need to think about are greenwashing and fast fashion. Once you understand them, making changes will be a lot easier!
Greenwashing is a phycological marketing trick that brands use to make you think you’re buying an eco-friendly product. A business may appear ethically responsible, but their practices don’t meet the image they’re trying to perceive. A brand may use the colour green to show themselves as natural, and many of them will use the terms “eco” and “organic” to seem like a more environmentally friendly option. Most of the time, this isn’t the case.
To have a sustainably sourced wardrobe, you need to watch out for these techniques. They can be easy to miss, but if you stick to trusted and certified eco-businesses, you can’t go wrong. Here are some familiar examples of greenwashing, so you can understand what it looks like:
- H&M has a “conscious” range and allow you to donate your old clothing to their recycling scheme. Despite seeming ethical in these schemes, the rest of their clothing ranges are fast fashion. Some researchers are also looking into how eco-friendly their “conscious” range really is.
- In 2019, Primark launched its sustainable denim range. Many shops are also accepting old clothes are part of a recycling scheme. Despite its eco-friendly effort, they still are one of the biggest culprits of fast fashion and treating workers poorly. They also had issues with their child labour scandal.
- Boohoo removed wool clothing from their fast-fashion lines but replaced it with faux fur which is worse for the environment as it’s made of plastic. Plastic fibres break down over time and will be left in the soil or breathed in by wildlife.
Fast fashion is where a brand will see a style from the catwalk and quickly be able to reproduce it. They will also sell it at a more affordable price than the big brands. They are also able to keep up with new trends and seasons. That sounds amazing, right? You see your favourite celebrity wearing a new outfit, and you can get it quickly and cheaply. Actually, this is where the problem starts.
We’re living in a society where people want things right this second. It means that your clothing is produced in bulk at factories where minimum wage doesn’t exist, and conditions are poor. Corners are cut to ensure that speed is fast and costs are kept low, meaning the quality of the material and working conditions are poor. Synthetic fibres are used as they are cheap, but they are harmful to the environment. Polluted water is often dumped into freshwater sources meaning the locals don’t have access to clean water.
Purchase From Sustainable Brands
One of the easiest things to do for a sustainable wardrobe is to buy from sustainable fashion brands. There are so many amazing brands out there, you just need to find the right one for you. Whether you’re buying underwear or a new coat, make sure it’s been purchased from an ethical source. The best businesses are really open about where their products come from. Goose studios is a sustainable fashion brand, but they admit when things could be better. For every product you click on, they tell you the good and the bad about how it was made. I love their honesty and how open they are with their customers!
Here are some amazing sustainable fashion brands that you can start your journey with. I’ve tried to keep all the suggestions as small or local businesses, as they need more support than the big chains!
- Goose Studios
- Cotton & Push (for comfy underwear)
- Mayamiko (for the modern woman)
- The People Tree
- Thought (for sustainable living!)
- Beaumont Organic
- Noctu (for gorgeous loungewear!)
- Pic Style (for your whole wardrobe)
Buy Clothing Second-hand
I previously mentioned that only 10% of charity shop items actually get sold. For every 100 items that get sold, 90 get thrown away. It seems like it’s not even worth donating things! My goal is to change that statistic because not only will you be keeping items out of a landfill, but you’ll be supporting charities all over the UK. Next time you want an item, look in your local charity shop first. Most of the time, you’ll find what you’re looking for, and it’ll be at an amazing price. If you can’t find it in a charity shop, look online at eBay or Depop. You’ll have a wider search range and get the item delivered to your door! I love thrifting, and there are so many shops you can thrift at.
Whether you’ve got a dedicated vintage & second-hand store or you’re browsing through charity shops, buying second-hand is important for a more sustainable wardrobe. Remember, buying second-hand isn’t perfect. Most of the brands in charity shops are fast fashion, but it means that you can shop for the brands you love without adding to the issue. You’re keeping the garment out of a landfill for longer and getting more use out of it.
Invest In A Few Essential Items
When creating your sustainable wardrobe, it’s best to start with a few essential items than to binge buy a whole new wardrobe. Why? Because if you throw out all your old clothes, you’re just adding to the amount of clothing in the landfill. It’s better to build a wardrobe slowly and donate/throw out old clothing when their time has passed than to have a clear out. Here are some essential sustainable items you should invest in first:
- A few plain t-shirts from Goose Studios – These tees are affordable and will go with most outfits! They also sell jumpers. If you want to see how I paired my Goose Studio tops, you can read my blog post!
- A reusable shopping tote – These will stop you from using carrier bags and are essential for everyone to have on hand!
- Underwear and bras from Cotton & Push – They have gorgeous undergarments for you to wear. All sustainable, of course!
- Keep warm with a sustainable waterproof from Rapanui – Make sure you stay warm and dry this winter!
- Finish your look with some trendy trousers from The People Tree – They also sell dresses if you’re not feeling trousers!
For some, giving up the brands or shopping second-hand is the worst thing ever. Realistically, it’s an important step for a better, more eco-friendly future. The changes you make don’t have to be big, and any action you do take will be a small piece in a bigger puzzle! What are you doing to make your wardrobe more eco-friendly? Let me know if you’ve discovered any sustainable clothing brands that I need to know about!
Thank you to Em for this educational and motivating blog post, I hope you’ve learnt as much as I have from this. All Emily’s links are below, make sure to check her out.
Thank you as always,