When we think of living an eco-friendly lifestyle, it is easy for our minds to go straight to minimising the impact of plastic waste rather than sustainable fashion.

We buy a reusable water bottle or carry around a bag for life. However, there is another pressing issue – the fashion industry.

In the UK today, 300,000 tonnes of clothing ends up in landfill every year [1].

As the emergence of fast fashion companies and the rise of influencers have convinced us, we need to buy a new outfit for every occasion.

This marketing boom has immersed us into a throwaway culture that is not sustainable.

While I don’t deny I love the satisfaction of purchasing new clothes and staying up to date with the latest trends, the impact this has on the environment has encouraged me to do this more sustainably.

I am changing my shopping habits to begin creating an eco-friendly wardrobe in a few simple steps.

1. Resale and Rehome

Currently, only 15% of clothing produced is recycled or donated.

However, the rise in resale platforms, such as Depop and Hardly Ever Worn It are driving sustainable fashion. These sites have made it easier than ever to rehome old clothes and shop second hand from your front room.

Here users can post wardrobe pieces that they no longer want for others to buy.

These platforms are how I’ve found my favourite items of clothing – statement trousers, shoes, dresses and tops.

Second hand clothes sustainable fashion
A few of my favourite second-hand finds ©Rosie Clack-Walsh

If I see something I love on a brands website I check out these sites to find the item second-hand.

Not only does this save and make you money, but it also minimizes directly buying into fast fashion produce. This allows you to hunt and continue purchasing new pieces in a much more sustainable way.

Or, if you prefer the in-person shopping experience, vintage thrift shops and charity shops are your go-to. These shops house numerous hidden gems at some hugely discounted prices.

While this makes it slightly more time consuming to find the right size and fit, there is something hugely satisfying about finding a piece you love amongst all those odd fabrics.

2. Rework and Reuse

Also known as upcycling, reworking your old clothes is a great way to create something new and unique from something old and contribute to sustainable fashion.

Traditionally this would mean cutting, stitching and re-stitching your old clothes; however, if you are like me, you probably do not possess the needlework skills to do this. 

So, more recently, I’ve witnessed another form of upcycling rising on social media.

From bleaching jeans to repainting old shoes and clothes, individuals such as the Instagrammer @claires_artwork_, are taking to reworking second-hand items with paint to create beautiful custom pieces for themselves and others.

This service means that you don’t have to be an expert on a sewing machine to give new life to your old clothes.

You can hand it over to someone else to do the work for you, and get an excellent one-of-a-kind piece in return.

Custom made jeans by @claires_artwork_
@claires_artwork_ ‘s custom made jeans © Claire Neil

3. Shop sustainable fashion brands

It’s not just our throwaway culture that harms the environment.

@becky_ballinger in TALA’s the zinnia leggings sustainable fashion
Instagrammer @becky_ballinger in
TALA’s the sustainable zinnia leggings
©Becky Ballinger

The carbon footprint of the fashion industry makes it “the second largest polluter in the world, just after the oil industry”. It takes 1,800 gallons of water being used to produce just one pair of cotton jeans.  

But why do we not see it as an equally significant threat to the planet and change how we shop?

Because in the past sustainable brands have come with a hefty price tag, making them unaffordable and undesirable.

But, this is slowly beginning to change, with greater awareness and recycled fabrics becoming increasingly common. Multiple brands are beginning to pledge a fashion-conscious form of production.  

H&M is the first brand to launch a fashion-conscious collection and Zara following suit with their Join Life campaign.

This trend means that as sustainable brands continue emerging (& Other Stories, TALA and ELV Denim, to name a few).

You no longer have to be boring with your clothing to be sustainable.

4. Beware of greenwashing

When looking for sustainable brands, it is hard to distinguish between those trying to do better and those jumping on the eco-friendly bandwagon.

And, as sustainability has become a more widely discussed issue amongst consumers, it is no surprise that many companies have used the appearance of being eco-friendly as a way to increase their sales.

Made in China label
The truth is in the labels © Rosie Clack-Walsh

Some are telling customers what they want to hear with no real action.

Fast-Fashion brands are a huge culprit of this. They are using green coloured graphics and advertising reward schemes if you donate your old clothes.

All while encouraging you to go back and buy new. They are continuing the unsustainable production of their clothing.

Many are still producing clothing in the far east where often the working conditions for the textile industry are unethical and unsustainable.

Even on our doorstep, the fashion industry can commit unethical acts and facilitate slave-like working conditions. Highlighted in 2018 by a Leicestershire MP “I’ve estimated it’s around 10,000 individuals who are effectively in modern slavery providing garments for internet retailers.”

So, it’s always best to do some research and try not to be manipulated by the modern marketing techniques used today.

5. Timeless trends

It’s no secret that fashion repeats itself, with the current reemergence of the ’90s, I’m beginning to find my Mum commenting more and more on how something I’m wearing looks exactly like what she wore when younger.  

This discussion really proves the circular motion of fashion today as seasons, trends and eras have all begun to blur.

Most recently Italian label Gucci announced that they would be cutting their number of appearances in fashion shows from five to just two a year, in a bid to move towards ‘seasonless’ fashion.

So, knowing this, do we need to keep buying new clothes to stay on trend today? In short, my answer is no.

Experiment, borrow, try from your friends, parents, or strangers if you want.

Because chances are the thing you’re looking for is already sitting in someone else’s wardrobe.

Or, the jumpsuit you’ve got hung up probably has five other ways to be styled for every event and season.

6 Year old jumpsuit styled for every season
A versatile piece – I’ve owned this jumpsuit for 6 years and it can be styled for every season. © Rosie Clack-Walsh

Small Changes Count

While trying to be more sustainable with your wardrobe, any amount of change is better than none, and some changes are easier than others.

But, as the fashion industry is slowly becoming aware of its environmental impact, we as consumers should too.

So, I hope this post has shown you that sustainable fashion does not have to be boring and is most definitely ‘on-trend’

Share with friends!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.