Sunday, 21 July 2019

How To Be More Sustainable - Clothing


This is the first article in my new "Sustainability Series". 

Sustainability is something I've become a lot more conscious of over the past few years. I guess I was always cautious about sustainable decisions as I used to work for a company that did a lot to help the environment and this was a topic I did a lot of research on. 
It seems silly not to share some information with you if I have the privilege to have being taught these things myself. This is what my blog is for!

I want this post to be 'to the point' and focusing on what we can do to help the planet rather than what's already going wrong but I really urge anyone reading this to look up 'the consequences of unsustainability' to understand why I'm writing this post and what you will be making a difference towards. 
If I wrote it all down here the post would go on forever. 

So the first post in this collection is going to be focused on clothing and how we can be more environmentally friendly with it. 




Below are 13 ways that you can be sustainable which are really effortless and easy. It's not hard to change small habits and we should definitely all be doing it!



1. Make it yourself or buy handmade.

I remember my first textiles lesson in year 7. I wanted to cry because everyone seemed to know how to sew and I had no idea. I had to ask one of the girls to secretly help me so I didn't get in trouble with the teacher. I hated textiles so much and when it came to choosing my year 9 options, I knew that I was going to avoid that! 
That makes me laugh so much now because if I could turn back time I would LOVE to do textiles! Believe it or not I now have a little side business selling handmade home decor, accessories and clothing! (Which you can shop here 😉).
The reason I'm telling you this little story is to show you that even if you think you are useless at something, you can always learn. Making things by hand is now my favourite pastime. 
This is such a great way to be more sustainable. Who needs to spend money when you can make your own items only having to buy the materials. You're more likely to wear it because you'll be proud of it and it'll likely be great quality if you put a lot of effort into it. If you learn how to make your own clothes you won't need to buy off fast fashion websites.

2. Don't buy fast fashion. 

Fast fashion websites are great for keeping up with the latest fashion trends and not spending much money. But the reason it's fast fashion is because one day it's in and the next it's out. Once it's out, you'll likely throw the item away. Or they won't be great quality and only last as long as the trend. 
I'm not one to talk as I've previously worked with fast fashion brands. But I do still have all those items and I take care of them, making them last longer and I never make my decisions based on if it's fashionable. I decide whether I'll wear it and how long I'm likely to keep the item. I've not regretted any of my decisions because I made those decisions carefully.  
Buying fast fashion isn't great but if you do find something you like on one of those websites just think carefully about it, will you wear it? How often? Is it good value for money? Can you wear it again next season, next year? Is the quality good? 
It's OK to shop fast fashion as long as you know it's a good purchase and you're not buying it for fast fashion reasons. 

3. Wear it again and again.


If you invest in a good quality item it will last you longer. You'll be able to wear this item over and over again without worrying about quick wear and tear. There are so many ways to wear items repeatedly but in a different way. 
Having a staple wardrobe is a really good idea. This is where you have the basic items. A pair of jeans, a black vest, a leather jacket, a denim skirt etc...you can then just buy 'top up' items to dress up your staple items. A great way to follow fashion trends without buying a new skirt or jacket every year.
Stop worrying about being seen wearing the same items more than once. I wear the same clothes all the time and I truly do not care. I have a washing machine. As long as the clothes are clean WHO CARES. 

4. Buy from the eco-friendly collections.

Some stores have Eco friendly collections. For example, H&M have a 'Conscious Collection' which I tend to gravitate towards when I'm shopping there. I have a beautiful pair of summer trousers from there and they are great quality and I wear them year after year. They are so beautifully made. 
Other well known shops with eco friendly collections are Mango, Reformation and Zara. Or again, shop small! 

5. Vintage clothing stores.


Shop at vintage clothing stores. Fashion trends come back year after year. They even go full circle through the ages. The seventies style is still very much in fashion so rather than buying the latest River Island 70s inspired piece, why not buy the real deal! If it's still around after all these years, chances are the quality is top notch. Bristol is a really great place to find vintage shops. I'm also a sucker for Camden Market in London. So many vintage and handmade goodies! 

6. Buy with seasons in mind.

When deciding on a new clothing purchase, just think. Can I wear this autumn, spring, winter AND summer? I love clothes that I can wear all year round. I don't then need to splash out on winter fashion and a new summer wardrobe. I can wear the same pieces but dress them differently. Pinafore dresses are really sweet in summer but throw a polo neck jumper underneath in the colder months. A nice little suede skirt is great with a pair of woolly tights in Autumn but you can carry it into spring by simply removing the tights. So many ways to style items! 

7. Spend more for better quality. 


Money isn't always a choice but if you are fortunate enough to have disposable income then think wisely. Yes you can do a spree in Primark with £50 and come out with 5-10 new items and that's great but realistically is the quality good? How long will they last? Why not instead buy one piece from a slightly more expensive shop that will last you longer and feel more special. 
You don't have to jump straight in the deep end when deciding to be more sustainable. You don't only have to wear handmade clothes and ONLY shop in the sustainable sections. But maybe rather than buying a bundle of clothes, buy one item that you love more than all the cheaper ones that you otherwise would have saved up for? 

8. Buy one thing a month.

Similar to my last point...rather than buying in bulk, save up for a really special item that you've really thought about. If you're used to getting a wage on payday and splashing your spare cash on about 20 new items because you've earned it, challenge yourself! Why not think, I have £100 left over this month and I'm going to buy this £35 dress that I adore, that I can wear all year round and for many years over. Then put the rest away for a rainy day, save for a holiday or even better, a dog!

9. Do your research. 

I understand this is effort but if you really want to make a change, do your research. Look at the label, find out where the item is made, what material it is, who are the company hiring to actually make the items? Are these sustainable options? There's nothing Google can't tell you these days. If you did some research into where you're clothes are from and what working conditions some of those people who made your pretty dress having been through you would be mortified. I don't want to make this post negative or preachy so if you want to know more just research how unsustainability is affecting us. 

10. Donate unwanted clothes.


If you want to do a little wardrobe clear out, don't just throw your items out. Take them to the charity shop for someone else to love. If they are in bad condition you can still take them to drop off centres, some items can be repaired and given to the homeless, the materials can always be recycled and used for something else.

11. Upcycle your clothes.


Again, if you're doing a clear out, think. Can I reuse this for something else? Whether it's turning your jeans that are too short for your legs into some denim shorts. A fur coat into a new cushion for the sofa. There''s likely a way you can reuse your item to create a whole new one or to customise something else you're getting a bit bored of. Sometimes I use my old clothes for my embroidery pieces! 

12. Look after your clothes.


Treat your clothes with a bit of respect, if you just throw them around and leave them festering in a washing pile the quality will worsen. If you pull them off a bit too eagerly after a long day, you could loosen the seams. Fold them and protect them. Think Marie Kondo. They are serving you a purpose. Show them some love. A good way to make them last longer is to wash them less. Not everything is dirty after one use. Of course if you've been sweating or spilt something on them by all means, throw them in the wash! But if they smell and look OK, why are you washing it? You're wasting water, electricity, cleaning supplies which you need to stock up on sooner, making more plastic purchases. Chill out a bit. Get some more uses out of your perfectly clean clothes.

13. Repair broken items.


If something rips don't just throw it out without a second thought. Is it fixable? No, OK recycle it. Is it fixable? Yes! Then fix it! If you don't have the skills, learn or ask someone who does! It's not hard and that little extra help is a little gesture towards a happier healthier planet.



I hope these tips were helpful. I think a lot of them are effortless and really easy to incorporate into our everyday lives. We should all be making an effort to become more sustainable. Do we want to bring up our children in a world where everything is dying off? Do we want a world without honey? Do we want to see seagulls in a beer can necklace? No. No we don't. So buck up and sort it out. Simple :) 





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