5 Ways To Build An Ethical Wardrobe
What do we do when ready-to-wear fashion ends up as ready-to-waste fashion?
Every year, each American will throw away an average of 81 pounds of clothing. And this fashion trend is unfortunately at an all-time high—and growing.
In a world of fast fashion, many of us are putting on the brakes as we begin to worry about landfills full of clothing and oceans filled with microplastics. If this sounds like you, rest assured that there are things that you can do to dress in a planet-friendly and guilt-free way.
So, without further ado, here are 5 ways to build an ethical wardrobe (spoiler: they won’t break the bank either).
1. Forget About Fast Fashion
It’s not super exciting advice but what you already own is as sustainable and ethical as you can get. The first place to go “shopping” for an ethical wardrobe is your own closet! Dig beneath those empty shoe boxes and explore the depths of your dresser drawers. Repair or replace missing buttons or broken zippers instead of giving up on that old blazer or pair of jeans.
Many of us no longer value our clothing—or the process it goes through to get onto that hanger. We live in a world that’s driven by a take-use-dispose model. But it’s not too late to learn how to love our clothes and take care of them so that they last. Next time you look at that old shirt or dress, think about all of the water that produced the fabric, all of the chemicals that went into processing it, and all of the hands it passed through before it reached yours. Each item of clothing has been through a journey, realizing that is the first step towards building an ethical closet.
2. Don’t Let Old Clothes Go To Waste
The adage “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is a good one to live by when it comes to building an ethical wardrobe. One component of sustainable fashion is buying clothes properly, and another is disposing of them properly. It may take a little time and effort on your part, but companies like ThreadUp and The Real Real have made reselling clothes fun and easy (and lucrative). If you’re looking for a way to freshen up your ethical wardrobe, you can head to these sites to sell your clothes and get credit in exchange. Think of it as a win-win for you and the planet. If that process doesn’t sound appealing, donate your clothes to a local thrift store or charity. To add some much-needed socialization to 2020, consider having a clothing swap (outdoors, of course) with friends or family! You’ll get new-to-you clothes and keep valuable resources out of landfills.
3. Support Sustainable And Ethical Brands
Sustainable is the new black. More brands are realizing that consumers are letting their conscience play a role in their purchase decisions, and so they're improving practices as a result. Today, more than ever before, fashion brands are considering the materials they use and improving their supply chains so that they’re better for people and the planet.
Boyish is all about quality jeans that form to your body over time, making your butt look good. Not only is this the opposite of fast fashion, but isn’t this what we’re all looking for in a pair of jeans?!? According to their team, “Boyish jeans are made with the environment in mind, so they are made with recycled or plant-based materials that are biodegradable, less water is used in the laundry/dye process, and they are dyed with non-toxic indigo dyes.”
Swimwear is notoriously bad for the oceans and Wolven is fixing that with their swimsuits (and more) made of recycled plastic bottles! Then there’s AARYAH, the responsible jewelry brand that’s addressing many of the human rights and environmental issues present in the jewelry industry. Ethical, transparent and verifiable supply chains that contribute to sustainable economic development are important to AARYAH. Here’s how they make that happen: “Our factory in Jaipur is certified by The Responsible Jewellery Council’s Code of Practices (COP), which addresses human rights, labor rights, environmental impact, mining practices, product disclosure and many more important topics in the jewelry supply chain.”
4. Shop Vintage
Who doesn’t love a good vintage look? Fashion trends are undoubtedly inspired by what looked good in the past. So, to stay in tune with what’s on the runway without the environmental impact, turn to the clothes of yesteryear. Not only will you get some of the best looks from vintage stores, but you’re also guaranteed to have a unique and one-of-a-kind outfit. Even better, vintage shopping no longer means sifting through musky shelves because you can shop vintage at online stores like Depop and Poshmark!
5. Incorporate Staples Into Your Wardrobe
Minimalistic staples have stepped up to become some of the best looks of the past couple of years. Marie Kondo has inspired all of us to scale down to the basics, which is better for the planet without sacrificing on style. Many brands are starting to incorporate minimalist fashion into their offerings by including simpler styles. Pair down by focusing on the “less is more” rationale. Think quality over quantity. Incorporate a smaller selection of colors and look for more streamlined shapes. Simply put, having more staples in your ethical closet leaves more space (literally and mentally) for other things that matter in life.
What’s in Your Ethical Wardrobe?
We reached out our favorite jeans brand Boyish to get their input about what ethical and sustainable fashion is. Here’s what they had to say about their ethical wardrobe: “Add basics that can be mixed and matched, versus on focusing on super trendy items that will go out of style fast. So things like a basic t-shirt, camisole, jeans, and a jacket are a good place to start. When shopping sustainably, research the brand and the materials to make sure that they are indeed sustainable.” - Aubrey, Director of PR & Marketing, Boyish
Now we want to know what’s in your ethical wardrobe. Let us know in the comments section!