January 15, 2021
As we slowly and cautiously enter into 2021, there’s never been a better time to reassess our values and lifestyle. The majority of us are spending more and more time at home so what better way to start than our own closet. Think of it as a purge of old habits, overconsumption, and negative environmental and social impacts. And while we know you can’t buy your way into sustainability, these steps below should help direct you towards a more conscious 2021 and your future wardrobe built off less material possessions, more educated purchases, and the reassurance that your wardrobe will be worn for multiple seasons to come.
1. Donate, Resell or Swap Your Old Clothes
Up to 79% of our wardrobes are unworn every year. If this wasn’t enough reason for a clear-out, consider how someone else could actually use the clothes that have been hanging unworn for years. This step is all about putting aside some time to sort through your pieces and separate them into piles of end-use. Take the time to be mindful of why these pieces were unworn and learn from your mistakes. For your higher value items check out resale sites such as Vestiaire Collective, donate the items that could be needed such as interview outfits and cold weather items, and even consider swapping clothes with friends! This is probably the most complicated step of all, but by purging your closet in a sustainable manner, you can actually prolong the life of each garment instead of sending them to a landfill.
Image: Vestiaire Collective
2. Shop Your Closet
These days statistics show that we are wearing our clothes 40% less than 10 years ago. There’s no shame in wearing the same outfit more than once, and retraining your mind to boycott newness and trends might be a hard one, but it’s one big step in the right direction. Sustainable fashion blogger, Lia Vanus notes “ if I’m craving a particular item or style, I try to shop my wardrobe first. I check if I already have something similar. Most of us don’t even know or remember half of what we already own.” Gone are the days where you needed 8 different leopard print tops or 5 similar styles of oversized blazers. Make use of what's already there before buying more.
Image: Lia Vanus
3. Make Your Laundry Eco Friendly
The average household does almost 400 loads of laundry each year, consuming about 13,500 gallons of water. By changing up your laundry habits you can significantly reduce the environmental impact of your wardrobe. The simplest way to do this is by simply wearing your clothes more! Of course, there’s the exception of undergarments, but when it comes to jeans and even your t-shirts you shouldn’t wash them until they are truly dirty. Innovative brands like Pangaia are even incorporating peppermint oil in their garments which has natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties to keep them fresh for longer.
4. Invest in Seasonless Pieces
The key to building a wardrobe full of items that you will actually wear is seasonless pieces. Think timeless items that can be worn in different ways with the help of layering and some creative styling. Dresses and skirts shouldn’t just be for hot summer days but should also transition beautifully to cooler weather when paired with boots. Brands like Envelope1976 are masters when it comes to a seasonless collection. Every item is created with the modern wardrobe in mind from natural and recycled materials, in neutral hues. You can imagine their pieces dressed down or up, come rain or shine.
5. Buy Better Materials
Buy less and buy better should be your motto and in order to buy better, one needs to know their sustainable materials. Check the labels, educate yourself, and understand that what goes into your clothes has a big impact on the environment. Some of our favorite eco-friendly fibers to look out for include organically farmed cotton, linen, and hemp, recycled fabrics like polyester and cotton, and innovative fabrics like Tencel, Econyl and Pinatex. We love sustainable brands like Mara Hoffman who put our minds at ease by choosin all of their materials with intention and care using mainly natural, recycled and organic fibers.
Image: Mara Hoffman
6. 30 Wears Test
The #30Wears campaign was originally started by Livia Firth, the founder of Eco Age. It’s such a simple tactic that you can refer to every time you are tempted to shop in order to embrace a more sustainable way of consuming. Whether you are a timeless dresser or have a more creative style, the test really makes you think about how you will be wearing the item again and again. DJ and sustainable fashion advocate, Fabienne Hebrard is a big fan of color and print but notes “I love to dive into my current wardrobe and style items differently! Move a strap horizontally for an asymmetric look, layer up your usual summer jacket so you can wear it all year round.” With the help of some creativity stand out pieces can still have room in your new sustainable wardrobe.
7. Learn To Repair Your Clothes
While home economics might have been something of past generations, there may be a good case to bring it back for the generations to come. It’s no shock that many of us do not own a sewing machine or know how to hand repair split seams. Head over to your local craft store and invest in a simple sewing kit and study up those cross-stitches on Google. Now, that pile of clothes you haven’t worn in a while simply because of a little tear or a missing button will thank you. When in doubt, head to your local alterations shop for some help.
8. Educate yourself on brand practices
Fashion brands are being forced to rethink their business models and prioritize our environment and the people who are involved in making the pieces. As a consumer, it is also your duty to question what’s happening around the production of the piece you're purchasing and demand transparency. Luckily, there are several tools online that can help make shopping easier such as Good On You’s app which provides ratings for thousands of brands, and Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Transparency Index. At Status Gaea, we also try to simplify your understanding of sustainable and ethical measures of brands by incorporating colored icons on each and every product image. You can read more about these icons here.