From A to Ethical: A series, Post 2
In my last post, we talked about what ethical fashion means and all the terms associated with it. There’s a common misconception that practising ethical fashion is expensive, non-inclusive and limited.
That’s simply not true. There are more ways than one to practice ethical fashion that suit your own needs and lifestyle, which we will be covering in this post. Because sustainability comes in many packages.
Know your fashion footprint
You can’t really know where you’re going if you don’t know where you are. So, before you embark on your ethical fashion journey you should know what the impacts are of your current fashion habits.
You can calculate your closet’s carbon footprint. Who knew, right? Not me, until recently.
ThredUP has developed a fashion footprint calculator that shows you where you stand in comparison with the average American.
It takes everything into account from how many garments you buy to how often you wash your clothes.
Calculating your fashion footprint can give you an indication of how sustainable your closet is and where the biggest areas are that you need to focus on changing.
Start with your closet
Start with what you have and make full use out of it. Like Joshua Becker said, “the most environmentally friendly product is the one you didn’t buy.”
Now that you know your fashion footprint, it’s time to venture to the place where it all begins, your closet. Before you do any more shopping, you need to take a critical look at your closet.
If you don’t know what you have to work with you won’t know whether you’re buying the right garments to complete your wardrobe.
You need to establish whether you have enough clothes for all of your day-to-day activities and where your closet is lacking. Like a personal lookbook, of sorts.
To do this you can start by taking out your favourite outfits and building on them. Mix and match different garments, make it fun.
Challenge yourself to see how many outfits you can make with the clothes you already have. When you’re done, take note of any gaps you want to fill to complete your wardrobe.
If you find clothes that you no longer wear and that doesn’t fit with the rest of your wardrobe, don’t throw them out just yet. Read on to find out what you can do with them.
But if there really is nothing you can do, donate/sell them to someone who can or cut them up and use them as cleaning rags if they can’t be used as clothing anymore.
Once you know where you want to go with your style you can shop for the garments you need. Now you have the choice to do it ethically.
But there is more than one way to do this. Here are 5 different ways you can shop ethically:
Upcycling is not shopping, it’s more like revamping. But in the end, you have a ‘new’ garment so you can still consider it like shopping.
Upcycling your clothes means that you take a garment you don’t have a use for and change it to suit your style.
For instance, you can take a t-shirt and make it a crop top or turn your jeans into shorts. It’s a great way to get more use out of your clothes and to update your wardrobe without having to spend any more money.
Another bonus is that nothing goes to landfill, so that makes it sustainable.
Who says you need to own all your clothes? My sister and I borrow each other’s clothes all the time. It’s a great way to keep your style fresh without having to commit to that particular piece.
You can also make it fun and have a swap party with your friends. A lot of organisations like Fashion Revolution also host big clothes swap events.
You just have to keep an eye out on Instagram and Facebook for these events if it’s something you’re interested in.
I’ve never been to one but I follow a lot of organisations on Instagram that have done this in the past and it looks really fun. It’s a great way to save money and keep clothes from going to waste.
Did you know you can rent a lot of your clothes? Clothes that you don’t wear every day and only need for one or two events or special occasions can be rented so you’re not stuck with a garment that you might never wear again.
I have so many nightgowns that I’ve only ever worn once and they’re just in my closet taking up space.
You can even rent your wedding dress if you’re up for it. Renting is great because it gives a garment more wears and also supports small business owners without using unnecessary natural resources.
Thrifting is part of the circular economy system and keeps garments in society whilst providing an income for small business owners.
Like renting, it doesn’t use unnecessary natural resources. Thrifting can be very cost-friendly and to me, it’s like a treasure hunt. You never know what you might find.
And often at the thrift markets, you can find clothes that have never been worn before.
A lot of vendors buy bundles from big organisations that would have thrown these clothes in landfill because of one small problem that isn’t even noticeable.
But you don’t even have to go to thrift markets and secondhand stores, you can shop online. Many businesses have their clothes online or operate online only. Making it easier for you to find what you are looking for.
Shop from ethical brands
Shopping from ethical brands should be the last place you look for a new garment. Although ethical brands do implement sustainable practices, they still use natural resources to produce their garments.
But buying ethical has a ripple effect through the economy because of the many touchpoints throughout the production process.
From the designer to the farmer, all the way up to the person who sews your clothes, they all get compensated for their work through fair-trade practices.
That is why I still encourage buying new from time to time from ethical brands.
Things like underwear, socks, swimwear, loungewear and some basics are good things to buy from ethical brands. These are the things you might not want to get secondhand.
And there you have it. 7 ways to practice ethical fashion. I hope this post was helpful for you and that you learned something new.
Let me know in the comments if you know of any more ways to practice ethical fashion and how you go about it.
In the next post, we will be talking about how you can implement circular fashion into your closet. I mentioned circular fashion at the beginning of this series.
Implementing circular fashion into your lifestyle keeps your clothes circulated in society and stops them from going to landfill and creating unnecessary waste.
Cheers for now,
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