It can be difficult understanding what’s up and down when it comes to sustainability – especially when it comes to shopping and your own wardrobe. Therefore, we have collected 5 tips for you to bear in mind before you buy new, or for when you, once again, look in your closet *and have absolutely nothing to wear*. Maybe there is a solution anyway?
Tip 1: Be a conscious consumer
Before buying, ask yourself the following questions: “Do I have something similar?” – If the answer is yes, use your existing wardrobe. “Will I wear this often?” – If the answer is no, borrow it from a friend.
… and only buy what you need!
Go through your wardrobe and sort it. Find out what’s in it. What do you have, and what do you lack? If you can find anything at all?
There is less risk of falling into the impulse buying trap when you are continuously aware of what you miss and what you have. This makes it even easier to have a clear goal in mind for your shopping trip. According to the book Dress With Sense by Redress, one of the most sustainable shopping habits you can adopt is to buy fewer pieces of clothing and use them for longer.
Consider whether or not you really need something new, or if your sleeveless summer dress maybe can be worn for winter with a turtleneck underneath. Or maybe use your mini skirt with a pair of tights?
Tip 2: Buy secondhand
See if you can find what you lack on secondhand platforms, online as well as offline. There’s plenty of possibilities! Maybe you don’t even need to buy it – you actually only need to rent it?
You won’t only find ready-to-wear clothing, but a trip out secondhand shopping may even enrich you with recycled fabric such as a curtain or bedding for a new sewing project.
We made a guide on what to look out for, when shopping secondhand fabric right here.
If you can’t find it secondhand, try instead and look for small, sustainable local brands to support. If you don’t know whether your favorite brand is sustainable, or you just want to discover new ones, try and use the website or app good on you.
Tip 3: Buy sustainable clothes, if possible
One of the best actions to adopt is to check out the materials.
According to the book Dress With Sense, it is estimated that 20% of the global water pollution is due to dyeing and processing materials. Therefore, try to choose pure and natural materials like wool, organic cotton, silk or linen. Look for certificates such as GOTS and Fair Trade. And try to avoid plastic and polyester.
In fact, polyester is one of the most widely used fabrics when it comes to fast fashion – and at the same time it is one of the least environmentally friendly. The fabric isn’t biodegradable (meaning that it won’t be degraded at the landfill), and when producing the fabric, large amounts of water and fossil are used.
Tip 4: Be creative
There are many ways to be creative, in order to create a more sustainable wardrobe. Avoid buying new by taking a good look into your wardrobe. Maybe you have a piece of clothing that doesn’t look that trendy anymore, has a stain, or just doesn’t fit well anymore? See if you can use it differently. There are plenty of options. Create unique clothing using your old garments – possibly cheaper, if not for free.
The most important thing is that you take your time! By rushing, you can risk ruining the fabric, and eventually end up with a piece of clothing you won’t get.
Next, consider thinking your project through. What do you want to use your old clothes for?
Maybe it’s the pattern you like, but not the shape? Does it have stains, but only in a few places? Create your new clothes based on those questions.
Tip: Measure twice, cut once. Always. And with a fabric scissor. That’s a golden rule at Puff and Pencil – never mix your scissors….
However, sewing your own clothes isn’t necessarily sustainable. If you want to make more sustainable choices sewing, start by choosing sustainable fabric, if you opt for buying new fabric. Otherwise buy fabric secondhand. That’s an easy way to make a more sustainable choice.
Tip 5: Never throw out, instead…
Swap, donate, sell or recycle – anything but throwing it in the bin.
The clothes you have are already produced. To create a capsule wardrobe (if that’s what you want), or simply minimizing whatever number of dresses you have, it makes absolutely no sense to fix that problem by throwing it out.
Sort out your wardrobe. Find out if you can use your clothes in another way, if it should be reproduced, sold or given away to charity.
It’s a jungle to venture into and it takes time, research and knowledge. If you’ve reached the end of this article, you’re hopefully a bit wiser, and able to make a more conscious choice in regard to your (sustainable) wardrobe. Even the smallest steps make a difference.