3 Tips for a more sustainable fashion habit
Did you know that nearly 60% of all clothing ends up in an incinerator or landfill site within a year of being made? Fast fashion is seriously harming our environment, but luckily there are plenty of solutions for creating a more eco-friendly wardrobe.
Renowned fashion journalists and authors Tamsin Blanchard and Cara Smyth of the Fair Fashion Centre came together to discuss the state of the global garment industry, and shared their top tips for how we can reduce the environmental impact of our clothes.
Tip 1: Transform the existing items in your wardrobe
Doing a little bit of DIY work is a quick and easy way to update your clothes just by making a few small changes. What’s more, putting the time and effort means you come to appreciate that item a lot more.
“If you try and repair your clothing – rather than just discarding it and buying something new – you actually have more love for that piece.”
It’s also a great life skill to pick up – how many people can say they know how to repair a zip, or sew on a button these days? That’s why we’ve created three helpful guides to help you love and care for the clothes already in your wardrobe.
Tip 2: Make the most of second-hand shops and resale platforms
You don’t always have to hit the high street for a new outfit. Second-hand shops, vintage stores, and resale websites are a great way to find new clothes without increasing your carbon footprint. They are a great place to find hidden gems, designer bargains, and one-of-a-kind items that put a unique spin on your personal style.
Buying second-hand items brings together a community of like-minded fashion enthusiasts, and Cara notes that it’s also a great incentive for people to take better care of their clothes:
“[Second-hand stores] are teaching people to really look after their clothes because if you look after them you can sell them on afterwards. So it’s a win-win.”
Tip 3: Rethink your relationship with new clothes
Fashion is often all about the brand new and the right now, but keeping up with the trends also produces a lot of waste. Even when you’re buying from eco-friendly brands, Tamsin argues that there needs to be a shift in the way we think about our clothes. She says:
“Every purchase that we buy, we have to appreciate that these are precious resources.”
Before you make an impulsive buy, ask yourself the following questions:
Will I wear this 30 times?
Do I like it just because it’s cheap?
Can I recycle it?
How will I dispose of it?
It’s important to keep these questions in mind even when shopping for second-hand items. Because ultimately, building an eco-friendly fashion habit is about buying less, choosing items carefully, and making the most of what’s already in your wardrobe.
But what is the fashion industry doing about sustainability?
Sustainable fashion is just one part of a huge shift in the way we think about shopping. According to a recent industry report, 50% of us prefer to buy from retailers who are trying to reduce their impact on the environment.
Our changing attitudes have made the fashion industry sit up and take notice. You may have seen an influx of new sustainable brands on the market, and many big retailers are transforming their business models too.
For example, Burberry announced it would no longer use real fur, and Nike signed a UN pledge to meet climate change targets – these are just some of the actions retailers are taking to drive broader changes across the industry.
Tamsin admits that the clothing industry is problematic, but companies are actively working to minimise their environmental impact: As she stresses:
“We’re in an industry where we make money out of selling things so you can’t really ever be sustainable, but you can make better choices.”
Cara agrees and has an optimistic vision for the future, where every item of clothing is sustainable by default:
“…sustainable fashion should be and will be every single piece that’s made.”
To find out more about Tamsin and Cara’s insights, listen to the full episode here, or search for ‘Sunday School by Harvey Nichols’ on your preferred streaming platform.