One of my big goals for this year is to reduce my carbon footprint and live a more sustainable lifestyle. One of the ways I’m doing that is by being more mindful of what I purchase and consume – including my fashion choices.
This is obviously a difficult challenge for me as a blogger because my job often revolves around promoting clothing brands and my own personal street style. I am making a conscious effort to reuse my outfits and style them differently for shoots. I have also been partnering with more eco-friendly brands that are transparent about their manufacturing processes, what their clothes are made of, where they are made, etc.
Interested in decreasing your carbon footprint as well? Here are 5 easy swaps you can make to create a more sustainable wardrobe:
1. Do your research on brands and be mindful where you spend your money
Not all brands are created equal when it comes to sustainability. Did you know that the apparel industry currently accounts for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions of our planet? For reference – Europe contributes about 9% of the world’s greenhouse gasses (YIKES!)
Not to mention that fashion production also pollutes our rivers and ocean with plastic particles from washing fabrics, and toxic chemicals from clothing dyes. It is estimated that 500,000 tons of microfibers from clothing production makes its way into the ocean each year — the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottles.
So, what does this mean for our purchasing habits? It means where you spend your money matters! Many companies are adopting better practices when it comes to sustainability including using better materials such as organic cotton or bamboo, recycling fabrics, using non-toxic dyes, etc. Find brands that use ethical production processes, source local, and are certified for sustainability.
My Outfit: This sweatshirt is from a company called Wholesome Culture – a company that gives back a percentage of sales to animal sanctuaries around the country. They also use recycled fabrics, water-based dies, and produce their garments in Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) certified factories. To learn more about how their clothes are made, click HERE
2. Shop for things that are versatile and will last a long time
Scientists believe that the equivalent of one garbage truck full of old clothing is dumped into landfills every single second. Many synthetic fabrics do not break down, and often make their way into oceans and rivers if they are not properly discarded.
So how can you help fix this? Buy high quality items. If you shop at a fast fashion retailer, you are more likely to purchase something that will fall apart after a few washes. When you purchase quality clothing, it will usually last after many years, and can be re-worn season after season. Buying neutral colors and closet staples such as jeans and t-shirts are great investments and can be layered and styled easily with other pieces in your closet. Items that are on trend for the moment often go out of style within a few months – maybe think twice before purchasing that neon poncho that will definitely be out of style by fall.
3. Define your personal style
When you define your own personal style, you will be able to find pieces that can become stapes in your closet for years to come. I love having a closet that I can mix and match different pieces to create completely new looks that are authentic to me.
For example, I’m wearing the same pair of leggings in each of these photos, and they can easily be dressed up or down depending on what I pair them with. I love neutral and earthy colors that can be layered to create various looks without buying anything new!
My Outfit: This long sleeve crop top is from Onzie! They keep their production local, with 99% of their sewing, cutting and dyeing in Los Angeles, California. This is how they ensure high-quality garments, as well as ethical working conditions.
4. Thrift and re-sell
You would be shocked at some of the things I have in my wardrobe that I found in a thrift store, at a clothing swap, or I bought on Poshmark (like this outfit!) There are even Facebook groups that are made just for swapping and selling clothing. There is no shame in the thrift game, friends!
There are even companies that solely rent clothing, so people can change up their wardrobe without purchasing brand new items. High fashion brand resale shops are popping up all over the city, and many department stores will resell gently used high end purses and bags for a fraction of the price. Reduce, reuse and recycle. The environment will thank you, and so will your wallet!
5. Shop vegan!
Probably the biggest and most impactful thing you can do for the environment is to shop vegan. This means no leather, no feathers, no animal skins, and absolutely NO FUR!! Cattle hides, the skin of the animals, are byproducts of the meat industries. Young animals are often purposely slaughtered for “higher quality” leather products (think Louis Vuitton, Channel, etc.)
Apart from the fact that wearing skin is literally the business of murdering animals for profit, it has some pretty ugly repercussions for the environment as well. Each year, over 100 million animals are killed for the fashion industry alone. Over 15% of all greenhouse gas emissions are directly created from farms that house and slaughter livestock. Water sources around the farms that house livestock are often contaminated from millions of tons of animal waste seeping into the ground and entering local rivers and streams.
In addition, the production of leather requires a range of highly toxic chemicals, including formaldehyde, coal-tar derivatives, and various oils, dyes, and finishes—some of them cyanide-based. According to PETA “Most leather is chrome-tanned. All waste containing chromium is considered hazardous by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the incidence of leukemia among residents near a tannery in Kentucky was five times greater than the U.S. average. Studies of leather-tannery workers in Sweden and Italy found cancer risks between 20% and 50% above [those] expected.”
There are a lot of sneaky ways that brands use animal byproducts such as leather patches, and down feathers inside jackets. Look for brands that are certified vegan. Remember – there is no such thing as “ethical” fur or down!
* Please note that I am definitely not perfect at shopping 100% sustainably yet, and I will be the first to admit that I have purchased a lot of non-eco-friendly products during my life. But I am a true believer that the world does not need a few people living a perfectly sustainable life, but a lot of people imperfectly trying to be sustainable and make a difference in their shopping habits. Of course, the best swap of all is to not purchase or buy anything new at all, but if you’re looking to start small – these are some little tips you can start to focus on to make impactful changes in your life.
I would LOVE to hear what fashion swaps you are making in order to create a more sustainable wardrobe, or even in general. Let me know in the comments section below!
Photography by Shanti Knight