10 nifty tips and tricks to help you find and maintain a create a socially-responsible and sustainable wardrobe full of ethical clothing
The truth is that as consumers, we have the power to influence our world and make fashion sustainable, more conscious. Instead of feeling guilty about it, it’s our responsibility to make smarter purchasing decisions and become greener consumers. From clothes swapping to clothing care, here are 10 ways to get you started on your sustainable dressing journey.
You might find it both interesting and shocking that 51% of discarded garments in Hong Kong are not only still completely wearable but are thrown away because they don’t fit, and that every single day in Hong Kong alone, there are 253 tonnes of clothing thrown away. Scary, isn’t it?
A garment’s life cycle consists of three distinct phases: Manufacture, Maintenance, and Disposal. The majority of us would think that the first phase would be the most energy-consuming one, but it’s actually the last two phases that require the highest amount of energy. And guess what? We, as consumers, are the ones who play the biggest role in those two phases. We’re responsible for about 75-80% of the total amount of energy used in the life cycle of a garment.
That being said, it’s possible to reduce our carbon footprint through fashion without dramatically changing our lifestyles or considering living in a nudist community. As consumers, we have the power to vote with our wallets and influence companies to make a change. After 10 years of working in sustainable fashion, and countless years of placing the blame on companies, manufacturers and brands, Christina Dean, the founder of REDRESS, finally understood that as consumers, we all have a huge part to play in making the world a better place through fashion.
Together with Hannah Lane and Sophia Tärneberg, Christina Dean co-wrote the book “Dress With Sense”, a book targeted at consumers and providing invaluable tips and tricks on how to become ethical shoppers. But if you haven’t got the time to read the entire thing, here are our top 10 tips and tricks to create a socially-responsible and sustainable wardrobe.
01 Buy second-hand clothing
Not all thrills have to be expensive. You can still get that shopper’s high without breaking the bank or killing the earth. Here are two of our favourite sites to shop sustainably:
Vestiaire Collective, for all your luxury fashion needs
Style Tribute, where you’re sure to find a steal of a dress to class up your style!
HULA, if you want to visit the wardrobe of your dream in Hong Kong
And don’t forget to check out your local markets or thrift stores to see what treasures you might be able to uncover there, too.
02 Buy long-lasting clothing that you know you’ll be able to pass down to your great-granddaughters
We’ve all bought that one shirt that absolutely fell apart the first and only time you washed it. And that’s one more shirt that ends up in the landfill. Here’s how to tell if the clothing you’re buying is really worth the money, or if you should invest in something of higher quality, instead.
03 Know your body, your sizes and your style
It’s cliche, but it’s true: Nobody knows you better than you do. Given that 51% of garments are discarded because they don’t fit right, you can significantly reduce your waste if you only buy clothing that you know will fit you. Invest in a measuring tape, and try things on in store whenever possible before purchasing.
04 Wait until the day after to purchase a new item you just saw
If you wait to see if you still love it the next day, not only potentially save you some money, it’ll help you become more mindful, too.
05 Avoid clothes made out of blended materials- they aren’t recyclable
One of the greatest challenges for textile recycling is finding a way to separate blended fibre materials so that they can be recycled according to their own system. It’s pretty much the reason why a T-shirt that’s 99% cotton and 1% spandex can’t be recycled. Here’s a quick list of materials that are more environmentally-friendly, that’ll help you figure out what to look for when you’re shopping:
- Organic Cotton
06 Wash your clothes less
Surprising, but true: With every wash, synthetic fabrics shed thousands of plastic fibers and make their way down the drain, into sewage treatment areas and eventually the sea. A study conducted by the University of Leeds found that on average, a typical 6kg load of laundry can release 140,000 fibers from polyester-cotton blend clothing, nearly half a million fibers from polyester clothing and more than 700,000 fibers from acrylic-based clothing. That’s a lot of microplastic going into the sea. But that doesn’t mean you have to be stanky. Simply hang up your clothes to air out between wears, spot-treat stains instead of washing the entire thing, have a set of at-home wear that you change into to keep your workwear fresher. And simply wear protective clothing (such as aprons) over your nicer clothes.
07 Ask your brand #whomadeyourclothes and look for brands which are actually transparent about their value chains
Use our Conscious Brands directory to help you shop with peace of mind. And when in doubt, just ask #whomademyclothes!
08 Rent out clothes for special occasions
Ever bought a dress for a special occasion, knowing that you’ll never get the chance to wear it again? Well, there are companies that will get you looking fabulous for that special occasion without having clothes clutter up and die in your wardrobe afterward. If you’re in Hong Kong, check out Wardrobista or in Singapore check out Covetella or Rentadella.
09 Swap clothes with friends
Have friends who share the same clothing size as you? Throw a girls-night and have a rummage through each others’ wardrobes! And if you don’t have friends who want to swap, The Fashion Pulpit in Singapore allows you to swap til you drop.
10 Less is more
It says it all, really. A simpler life, with less stuff in it, usually equals to greener living. Have a #buynothingday every week, and watch as your cold hard greens start to accumulate in your savings account. We’ll all be here to help you beat the inner consumerist in you.
And those are our top 10 tips to being a more ethically-dressed, greener you.
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