If you’ve landed on this article, chances are you have decided you want to start shopping more consciously.
As consumers, we all play a huge role in fashion’s footprint on the planet. From poor working conditions and excessive carbon emissions, to the unethical treatment of animals and over-consumption of natural resources, there are numerous problems associated with fast-fashion and throwaway culture which is running rampant amongst shoppers in 2023.
So, what can you do if you are looking to transform your shopping habits for the better? Thankfully, there are numerous big and small actions we can all take to help the situation: some obvious, some subtle – all while looking your best and not breaking the bank.
Today, we share 6 top tips for building a wardrobe that is both stylish and environmentally/ethically responsible, so read on to find out more!
1. Purchase Second-Hand
One of the biggest roadblocks that many people face on their journey towards sustainable fashion is often the costs associated with purchasing ethical garments. The truth is that, yes, sustainable and ethical brands do indeed charge more for their clothing, but this doesn’t mean that you have to miss out. Building a sustainable and ethical wardrobe is more than just purchasing brand new items. In fact, one of the best things you can do for both your wallet and the planet is to consider purchasing second-hand. Not only will you be able to nab high quality garments at a fraction of the price, but you’ll also be doing your part to reduce waste and support a circular economy. Thrift stores, op-shops, consignment shops, and online marketplaces like eBay Australia, Depop and Poshmark are great places to find unique pieces at a lower cost.
2. Look Towards Ethical & Sustainable Brands
As mentioned above, shopping at ethical and sustainable brands is a fantastic way to reduce your personal environmental impact and contribute to more sustainable practices in the fashion industry. We recommend looking for brands that are transparent about their production processes and use sustainable materials. Many ethical and sustainable brands also prioritise fair labour practices, offer cruelty-free garments, and support local communities. If you are unsure of where to start, you can find sustainable and ethical fashion brands on comparison sites like Compare Ethics or Good on You. By shopping at these brands, you can find clothing that reflects your personal style and values, while supporting independent designers and small businesses at the same time.
3. Choose Quality Over Quantity
One of the most effective ways to reduce the environmental impact of fashion is to buy less and focus on quality over quantity. Whenever possible, we recommend investing in high quality pieces that are well-made and will last a long time, unlike fast-fashion garments that often only last a few washes and contribute to throwaway culture. This reduces the need to constantly replace items and encourages a more sustainable and ethical approach to fashion, without sacrificing on style. Additionally, when we stop buying poor quality, brands are pushed to improve the quality of their garments, thus creating long-lasting change that is certain to benefit workers and the environment for a more ethical fashion landscape.
4. Choose Sustainable Materials
Another way to make a positive change in your shopping habits without having to sacrifice on style is to choose sustainable materials. These are materials and fabrics that are produced using environmentally friendly methods and are less harmful to the planet. Many sustainable fabrics are often made from natural or recycled materials, aiming to reduce harm through the production process, fibre properties, or overall environmental impact. Some examples of sustainable clothing materials include organic cotton, linen, hemp, tencel, and recycled polyesters and nylons. When shopping, be sure to pay attention to clothing labels which offer useful information on the types of materials used to make any particular item of clothing.
Explore 31 sustainable fabrics for the most eco-friendly wardrobe here.
5. Look Into Rental Fashion
We’ve all been there – you purchase a new outfit for a special event such as a birthday party or wedding, only to never wear it again, or worse, throw it in the trash when you longer have a use for it. Unfortunately, throwaway culture and excessive clothing consumption is highly detrimental to the environment. Did you know that Australians buy almost 15kg of clothes every year and most of it ends up in landfill?
Thankfully, rental fashion is here to save the day. Renting or borrowing clothing for special occasions is an excellent way to reduce the environmental impact of fashion while still enjoying new and unique styles.
When you rent clothing, you also extend the life of each garment and reduce the number of resources needed to produce new clothing. Some companies also offer a monthly fee, allowing customers to constantly renew their wardrobe throughout the year.
Explore Australia’s best fashion rental site here.
6. Care For Your Clothing
Last but not least, once you have obtained your brand new or second-hand sustainable clothing items, it is just as important to take good care of them. Proper care can extend the life of your clothing, reducing the need for frequent replacements and contribution to landfill. This includes washing clothes only when necessary (to save water), using eco-friendly detergents, and repairing any damage or wear and tear to extend the lifespan of your garments.
Learn more about how to care for your clothing here.
What Are The Ethical & Environmental Impacts Of The Fashion Industry?
Before we end this piece, we thought it would be helpful to shine some light on the ethical and environmental impacts of the fashion industry, in a bid to help foster a deeper understanding of the importance of responsible fashion in 2023.
Environmental: Clothing production requires significant amounts of energy, water, and other resources, and the textile industry is responsible for a large share of global greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, the use of toxic chemicals in textile production, such as dyes and finishes, can contribute to water pollution and numerous other environmental problems. The fast fashion industry also has a significant impact on waste, as the fast-paced nature of the industry encourages overconsumption and a throwaway culture as a result of low quality garments that only last a few washes.
Ethical: The fashion industry has a significant ethical impact, as it is associated with a range of issues related to labour rights, animal welfare, and social justice. Fast fashion’s demand for cheap, fast labour creates low-quality working conditions, which can lead to catastrophic disasters in garment factories. One case that stands out in particular is the horrific Rana Plaza collapse, where an eight-storey garment factory building in Bangladesh had collapsed, killing 1,134 people, and injuring over 2,500. In addition to abhorrent working conditions, the use of animal products in the fashion industry, such as leather and fur, also raises concerns about animal welfare and ethical treatment of animals.
And there you have it — 6 practical tips for building an ethical and sustainable wardrobe with ease. By following these tips and making mindful choices about the clothing we buy, we can all play a crucial role in creating a more sustainable and responsible fashion industry for the better.
This is a sponsored article produced in partnership with Digital Next.