Wash Your Clothes Less and Avoid the Tumble Drier
My top tips for becoming a more sustainable consumer are to wash your clothes less— research by the Energy Saving Trust has shown that laundering accounts for 60–80% of a garment’s total environmental impact, so you can significantly reduce your impact even by washing your clothes after every few wears. And to wash your clothes at 30 degrees (this is reported to reduce energy usage by up to 40% compared to the standard 40-degree wash) and dry them naturally to further save energy. Saving energy means reducing the burning of oil and gas and ultimately, a reduction in the contribution to the rise in global temperatures causing climate change.
The Ex-Boyfriend Test
One of the most conscious ways to shop is simply to buy things you only intend to wear time and time again that you will value and make last. One of the silliest but most effective ways I have found to consider how to do this is to ask yourself, ‘Would you want to run into an ex in the garment? Would you feel confident and assured and good about yourself?’ If not, don’t buy it. Simply by cutting down on what we buy allows us to have a small, considered and hopefully more sustainable wardrobe.
Try to Always Buy Organic Cotton
Try to avoid fabrics that use microfibers— these fabrics often end up polluting the oceans and are difficult to clean up because the particles are so tiny. Alternatively, choose an organic or GOTS certified cotton. GOTS certified cottons are monitored from the point of growth and monitor the fair trade of the farmers, the consumption of water used, regulate pesticides used, and, on a whole, monitor the full supply chain. Read more about the importance of organic cotton here.
Every new item of clothing made has a substantial carbon footprint attached to its manufacturing, but the amount of new energy needed to produce vintage clothing is zero. Vintage clothing has a huge role to play in making fashion more sustainable and reducing a global footprint that includes the 132m metric tons of coal used yearly through the production of new fibers, dyeing and bleaching of garments and the 6-9 trillion liters of water used by the industry.
Invest in trans-seasonal clothes
Only buy items that you know are going to work for you all-year-round. Don’t shell out on an entire summer wardrobe each year when you live in cold and rainy London – you won’t pass the 30 wears test. Instead, spend the bulk of your money on pieces that will see you through more than one season. Jeans, T-shirts, classic dresses, timeless coats and jackets will make for a much more sustainable wardrobe.
Go for quality over quantity
It’s all about planning. Buying better quality, more sustainable pieces is likely to cost you more money than buying a cheap high-street product that doesn’t tick the right boxes. However, it’s all about changing your mindset. Yes, this costs more, but I am only going to buy one. Buying 10-30 high-quality items a year, rather than 60 cheaper, less eco-friendly pieces will dramatically reduce your carbon footprint. Basically, save up, invest and buy less.
Learn how to repair clothing yourself (or find a good tailor)
When something rips or a heel breaks, you don’t necessarily have to throw it away. Learn how to repair your clothes and accessories – or, even easier, pay a professional to do it. Think twice before using it as an excuse for something new.
Organize Your Wardrobe
Organize your wardrobe and look after what you have so you can celebrate the pieces that you love. If you can actually see what’s in your closet, you’re much more likely to be inventive when styling outfits, meaning you’re less likely to buy new pieces. There is so much value in having less. With less, our minds are calmer and our headspace clearer.