Eco Advice: Seven Ways to Make Your Wardrobe More Sustainable!

By Aidan Maxwell

30 March 2022

Reducing our carbon footprint can seem like a daunting task, with so many fast fashion brands offering a huge variety of clothes at low costs. Therefore, we decided to collate seven tips that can help you build a more sustainable wardrobe.

In order to create this list, we contacted Sustainable Fashion Scotland, Seamster Vintage, and The Vintage Scene Glasgow, and asked them for some advice on building a more sustainable wardrobe. So, without further ado, here are our seven tips on how to make your wardrobe more sustainable!

1.   Shop Vintage!

(The Vintage Scene: Glasgow’s brand new sustainable clothing shop. Photograph: Aidan Maxwell)

The first and probably the most widely known tip is to invest in vintage and second-hand clothing stores. Purchasing second-hand clothing has several benefits, for both environmental and social reasons.

Firstly, it helps to reduce waste and the amount of water consumed through mass clothing production. Secondly, prices are usually lower than fast-fashion clothing, as well as often being of better quality. Lastly, it encourages investments for the future, with unique pieces that can last you a lot longer!

Vintage clothing stores are becoming more and more ubiquitous, with a recent Thred Up report revealing that the second-hand market is projected to double in the next 5 years. Vintage shopping can turn into an exciting hobby by going to several different boutiques to check out all the unique pieces they have to offer. If you’re looking for some insight into the vintage shopping scene in Glasgow, please check out our article on local sustainable fashion spots that you should invest in.

2.  Be informed and research.

(Promotional image from Birdsong, Marie Claire’s best sustainable fashion brand. Photograph: Birdsongs Instagram.)

With a plethora of fashion brands to consider purchasing from, it is pivotal as a consumer that you do thorough research into a brand’s ethics, and what procedures they have implemented in order to reduce their carbon footprint.

The main things to look out for is if the brand in question is GOTS certified (Global Organic Textile Standard), as well as if it complies with The United Nations set of sustainable fashion goals.  GOTS certified garments are meant to be free of pesticides, harmful chemicals, or other toxic substances used to grow the fibres. 

An example of a brand with a great sustainability mission statement is Birdsong, which has an entire sustainability section on their website that establishes how their materials are sourced, how they deliver using 100% recycled packaging, and their use of GOTS certified materials.

This gives a great example of what you as a consumer should look into before investing in a particular brand. Also, be aware if the brand is actually dedicated to making a change, or is simply just greenwashing!

3. Look for versatility.

(A clothes hanger that’s full of neutrals, perfect for any capsule wardrobe. Photograph: Unsplash.)

Versatility is a key component of sustainable fashion, as you should always hunt for pieces that can work with several different looks, as well as be applicable for any season.

Being able to narrow down your closet to a set of clothes that can mix and match to create several different looks is called having a capsule wardrobe. Key factors that help create a capsule wardrobe are classic pieces that never go out of style, neutral colours that match well, and garments that use natural fibres such as linen or organic cotton.

For those living in a four-season climate, it is recommended to keep only clothes that are in season and store the others away in a box and out of sight. This way, you can plan out four different capsule wardrobes a year, with some of those clothes that you will keep and use all year.

4. Take proper care of your garments

(Woman’s hands holding clothes label with cleaning instructions. Photograph: Coats.)

The longevity of your garments is an integral part of a sustainable wardrobe. Therefore, how is that achievable if you do not take care of them?

It is important to pay close attention to care labels, as different materials need to be approached differently when washing.  Wool, for example, should only be washed when absolutely necessary and should be put under a gentle cycle or hand washed. 

In terms of detergents, it is important to find more eco-friendly cleaning products, as most detergents contain fossil fuel-based substances, which have a detrimental effect on our environment. Instead, try to find eco-laundry alternatives that are biodegradable and are derived from plant ingredients.

A final tip is to wash denim inside out, as not only does it decrease fading and increase the duration of wear, but it also protects from the harsh effects of some detergents.

5. Repair broken garments and donate

(Emmaus Glasgow in Partick, a charity shop dedicated to ending homelessness. Photograph: Emmaus’s website.)

It is important to repair any damage to garments as soon as possible in order to increase longevity, as this will help keep them from the landfill, and the damage will only get more severe the longer it is left unresolved. 

There are plenty of how-to videos online, as well as tailors if you can’t manage it yourself. But of course, you can always find a trusted shelter to donate items, as donating instead of discarding is the key to sustainable fashion.

There are plenty of charity shops and foundations that welcome second-hand clothes that can go to someone who truly needs them. Emmaus Glasgow, in particular, takes donations in order to work towards ending homelessness. Lastly, always swap with friends in order to prolong wear that way too! 

6. Organisation

(A wardrobe carefully organised into clothing categories. Photograph: Real Simple.)

Knowing what’s in your wardrobe and being able to organise them properly is key in order to decipher what you want to keep, what you want to put away, and what you want to sell or donate!

A simple way to do this is to start by organising your wardrobe into categories, so grouping all your t-shirts in one pile, trousers and pants in another, and so on. Then, separate them into a keep pile and a donate pile, and a good rule of thumb to do this is by asking yourself if the item in question sparks some joy when you see it. If not, that is probably a sign that it should be donated!

7. Consider hiring for your next big do

(Promotional photo for By Rotation, an app for hiring designer fashion. Photograph: By Rotations Facebook.)

As previously mentioned, throw away culture is incredibly detrimental to our environment, and purchasing one-time gowns for events that you will never wear again is a common contributor to that. 

Therefore, for your next big wedding, consider investing in the garment rental market! There are plenty of services that have the Eco-Age Brandmark, a recognition of championing circularity through peer-to-peer renting and reducing overconsumption!

A useful app to download is By Rotation, which is a social network that allows you to rent, lend, and buy designer fashion! Whether it’s a graduation gown or clothes for holiday, By Rotation allows you to rent clothing at a set price per day. It’s a great way to hire a one time piece for an occasion that can then be returned and used by someone else in the future!

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