As the leaves start to drop and the seasons change, it can be tempting to go out and buy a slew of new clothes to bundle up in for winter. While we all need new duds now and again, the effect of fast fashion can be devastating on both planet earth and our fellow humans. As of 2015, the fashion industry was the second largest industrial polluter, beat out only by oil. Worse yet, the fashion industry exploits workers around the world. In countries like India and the Philippines, 50 percent of workers aren’t paid the minimum wage. And it’s even more staggering in places like Pakistan, where a shocking 87 percent of workers are underpaid. Luckily, there is a myriad of other ways to keep your closet looking fresh without contributing to the hot mess that is fast fashion. Below, check out four ways you can be more conscious about purchasing eco-friendly clothes.
Keep it cheap with eco-friendly clothes…
This one might be pretty obvious, but there are so many options now for upgrading your closet without buying new. There’s the tried-and-true thrift store, à la Goodwill, if you prefer to dig for your treasures. Or just hop on an app like Poshmark, ThredUp, or the Realreal to browse through items being sold by people around the country. Protip: to find the best stuff, find sellers in your size whose style you dig and follow them. That way you’ll know when they’re selling new stuff and you can hop on the sale before anyone else.
…or make an investment in eco-friendly clothes:
If you’ve got a little more cash flow to direct towards your wardrobe, consider shifting your online shopping habits to more eco-friendly clothes. If you’re into classic shapes with a fresh twist, Everlane has got you covered. Cult favorites include their cashmere crew ($100 a pop, available in 17 timeless shades) and kick crop jeans (a breezy $78 per pair and known for their stunning fit). Pact is known for their cozy athleisure made of 100% organic cotton. Check out their super-comfy pocket leggings (only $35 each!) or their classic zip hoodie ($45). If you’re keen to support women around the world, consider the brand Able. Over 96 percent of their employees are women and they publish their wages for transparency. Best sellers include their Merly jacket ($148 for a timeless denim number) and the Marlene feminine mule ($118; we really love the cheetah print pair).
Fix before you pitch:
Have you worn your favorite boots down to threadbare soles? Does your coziest cardigan have a few missing buttons? Before you make the move to throw out your thoroughly-loved clothing, see if it’s something you can fix. A cobbler can set you up with new laces or soles. A tailor can help patch small tears or holes. And before you give up on a stain, try dry-cleaning the item. Better yet, get creative and dye over the stain at home. Use natural dyes like turmeric on a yellow-toned stain or black tea for darker stains. For more ideas, check out a book like The Modern Dyer to learn how to dye using everything from marigold flowers to cochineal bugs.
Swap it out:
There are some things in your closet that you’re simply ready to let go of, and that’s okay! But don’t just throw them in the trash. Find a way to give those duds new life. Host an eco-friendly clothing swap party with friends. Have everyone bring a minimum number of items and pool together for some snacks and wine. Next, you’ll be doing impromptu catwalks and photoshoots before you can even uncork the first bottle. Or, send your stuff into one of the many eco-friendly clothes-selling apps to make a little extra cash. Mama Earth will thank you, and so will your wallet!