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As the global warming conversation continues to reverberate throughout society, one of the industries so many people point the finger at is the fashion industry. Landfills are overflowing with items like apparel. Research shows that the average American wears an item seven times before they get rid of it.
In China, the average item gets worn three times before it’s discarded. If more people developed certain ethical and sustainable fashion habits, it’d be a lot easier. I mean to shift these statistics in a different direction. To practice ethical and sustainable fashion, adopt the following habits.
The age-old punchline about women never having anything to wear is rooted in a lot of truth. In many cases, many women don’t know how to build a wardrobe that suits their needs properly. They’re drawn to current trends, pretty colors, and interesting silhouettes. While those factors can create a fun look for a day party or a photo on Instagram, they’re not the practical pieces to create a foundational wardrobe.
They’re meant to add interest and pizzazz to foundational pieces. When it’s time to build a ethical and sustainable fashion wardrobe, start with the foundational pieces. Those that are considered classic. A well-fitting pair of denim jeans, a crisp white button-down blouse, and a little black dress are just a few of the great pieces each woman should maintain in her wardrobe. Those items are easy to pair with current trends or on their own. Your classic pieces will help you eliminate the issue of not having anything to wear.
Instead of going to popular retailers, visit thrift stores first. This takes a shift in mindset. However, thrift store shopping is an excellent way to keep apparel out of those landfills. Thrift stores keep the clothing in circulation. Even if you don’t like the idea of visiting thrift stores, there are finely-curated thrift stores with an online presence.
By heading to the online consignment store first, you can use the filters to find exactly what you’re looking for. To take it a step further, the garments you purchase will be shipped directly to you. There’s no difference in the quality of service or the convenience of a traditional online retailer. Yet, you’ll be able to potentially get a much better price for your items and the joy of knowing you’re developing sustainable fashion practices.
One of the reasons why many people get rid of items so quickly is because they don’t want to invest the time or effort to care for their garments. If a pair of jeans has pilling, this doesn’t mean it’s ready to be tossed. Instead, get a disposable razor, pull the fabric taut, and gently remove the pilling. Follow the care directions of a garment. If it needs to be hand-washed with cold water, don’t throw it in the washing machine.
By caring for the integrity of the garment, it’s much easier to make it last. If a jacket is missing a few buttons, it’s easy to buy a pack of buttons to create a new look. If it’s a repair you can’t fix on your own, take it to your local tailor or the dry cleaners. There are ways to salvage and repair garments when they’re properly cared for.
Even though designer pieces are often seen as status symbols, there’s an aspect many people don’t think about. In many cases, high-end designer pieces are expensive because of the care and preparation they require. This doesn’t mean that you need to purchase Chanel bags. A Chanel bag can be passed down for generations. However, a well-made designer blazer or a designer trench coat can easily last decades. Alternatively, a trench coat that’s made from a major fast-fashion retailer can potentially last one or two seasons.
Perhaps you’re someone who can’t relate to wearing an item seven times before getting rid of it. Even if you wear an item 24 times before you get rid of it, there are still ways you can work on lowering your carbon footprint through these sustainable fashion practices. As you become more intentional in these efforts, you might become inspired to learn new ways to live a more eco-friendly life.
Author: Sheryl Wright
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