By Stephanie Wilson
When considering the price of transitioning to a sustainable closet, it’s important to remember that the process doesn’t just involve changing where your clothing budget gets spent. While it’s important to vote with your dollars, it may be just as important to pick up sustainable habits that don’t involve money (and so save some in the process).
If you’re looking for budget conscious ways to add ethics to your aesthetics, try these tips:
Refrain from buying
The first way to be conscious about fashion’s global impact is the simplest and cheapest. Don’t buy what you don’t need. Before heading out to a mall or outlet to splurge on the latest trend, take a moment to check in with yourself: do you really need new clothes? And since need can have different meanings to different people, there are other ways to ask yourself if an impulse blouse is worth it. Is this honestly something that you’ll wear at least 30 times? Does it match with enough pieces in your existing wardrobe to make it worth the purchase? Was it made to last or will you have to toss it a couple months from now? All these questions put the focus on quality over quantity, and will save you money in the long run.
Another excellent way to shop sustainably is to hit up fashion resale shops and apps. Thrift shops are the cheapest option, with pieces being less expensive than even your fave fast fashion chain. However, if you’re looking for mid-range or designer pieces, vintage, consignment or trendy resale shops fit the bill. You’ll spend less on any of these pieces than if they were new, and you’ll be helping to divert textiles from the landfill in the process.
Mend, tailor or upcycle what you have.
On average, we wear only 20% of what’s in our closets already. And so rather than purchasing something newly made that’s trending, why not shop your closet to unearth hidden gems? If there’s a tried and true piece that no longer fits just right or has a broken zipper, take to a local tailor. You can also ask them to mend small flaws, or save even more money by trying your hand at button replacement. Or if you know a local seamstress or design student, ask them to upcycle older pieces into something that’s more on trend (bonus points for supporting your local economy). Denim is prime for this strategy, as jean trends are ever changing but new denim is extremely resource heavy to produce.
Wash your clothes less
With some pieces, washing them every time they’re worn is not the best idea. Certain clothes are barely dirty between washes, and tossing them in the machine just wears them out faster. Think denim, dresses, and any outfits that you barely worn for a few hours out at dinner. And when you do wash clothes, try to use the coolest and gentlest cycles you can. And then line dry rather than drying in the heat and agitation of a dryer. This will help your faves last longer and your water and power bills will thank you.
These are just a handful of tips that can ease your clothing budget as well as fashion’s impact on the environment. Next time you hear that sustainable fashion is too expensive, we hope that you keep these in mind!
My name is Stephanie Wilson, and I am fashion obsessed. I love pouring over fashion magazines, dressing up, and beautifully made clothes. I’ve long had a love affair with fashion. However, in 2014, I learned for the first time about just how harmful the fashion industry can be to ourselves, to the environment, and to workers. Since then, I’ve made a personal commitment to buy clothes that are eco-friendly, cruelty-free, and based on fair trade and fair labour practices whenever possible. I run a green beauty, sustainable fashion blog: Sense of Aesthetic.