Fashion is a way to express yourself and feeling fashionable simply…feels good. With ever-changing trends, fashion can also mean a lot of waste. While organic materials may decompose in a matter of months, some synthetic materials can take between two and TWENTY years to decompose. So that super cute top you wore out for drinks one time and tossed…yeah, it’s probably going to live well beyond your bar tab.
So, what’s a person to do? You want to look good, but you probably don’t want to do it at the expense of the planet. The first piece of advice: investigate high-quality classic pieces that can last you for years. Yes, they may seem expensive upfront, but for all the cheap pieces you could go through in the meantime, you’ll likely come out ahead. Check out this New York Times article for their perspective
Second, look at clothing companies that are passionate about sustainability. Patagonia is an incredible example of a brand that sells high-quality products, stands behind those products, and is a steward of nature. In fact, Patagonia will also help recycle no longer wanted (Patagonia) products. Furthermore, Patagonia doesn’t try to change trends so that their products go out of style and require replacement. They stick with the classics and build them to last.
Another idea is to consider purchasing second-hand. You can score some very high-quality products that someone else is tired of for a fraction of the price. Not only do you win by getting a great deal, but you also extend the life of an item of clothing, keeping it out of the landfill for a little longer and ever so slightly reducing the need for manufacture of new items. Thred UP is a website that buys and sells second-hand clothes. Do a search for classic pieces and take a look at the secondhand market. There is more than one to look fabulous AND be sustainable.
Finally, consider routine swaps with friends. When your attire starts feeling a little stale, chances are a friend might feel the same way. Consider swapping pieces to freshen things up.
Sometimes, a piece just has to go. When you hit that stage, (1) if the piece is in good shape, look to sell on a site like Thred UP, (2) if that feels like too much work (hint: it’s not, they make it easy!), but the piece is still in good shape pack it up and take it to a thrift store like Goodwill, Salvation Army or the likes and (3) If the piece is in questionable shape, consider using it as a cleaning rag. However you slice it, the first step is being mindful about what comes through the door so you don’t have to work so hard to get rid of it!