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How I Stay Sustainable: Clothing Edition

Something I’ve always been extremely passionate about is environmentalism— specifically sustainability. Sustainability, in my opinion, is the idea of utilizing materials only to the extent of needing them. This concept can be applied to many different areas, from buying groceries to choosing furniture. It’s most prevalent, however, in the fashion industry. According to Common Objective, it takes 3,000 liters of water to create one cotton shirt. This statistic, while a very popular one, is extremely telling of how impactful the fashion industry is on the environment. 

Ever since realizing how negatively impactful fashion is on the environment, it frustrated me to see how people so easily and effortlessly contributed to it. I saw friends going on shopping sprees without a care in the world, and then telling me that they ended up never wearing the pieces of clothing. 

However, I also recognize that staying sustainable with clothing comes easy to me. I was raised in a family that emphasized the importance of minimalism in order to save money. I was always cognizant about the clothing I bought, but I know that came with my upbringing.

While I am not an expert on the fashion industry, or all the recent fashion trends, I did learn many things throughout my life from being a forced clothing minimalist. Here are five ways I stayed sustainable in regards to clothing: 

Use The 30 Day Rule

This rule is a very popular one! If there’s a certain clothing item you want to buy, you wait 30 days to see if you still want to buy it. If you do, great, treat yourself! This rule is great for preventing impulse purchases!

Avoid trends

Fashion trends are a core part of our societal culture. This past year we’ve seen things from specific patterns to chunky rings. However, some trends go quickly out of style, and are even deemed “cringy.” This leads to many clothing articles going to the landfills, simply because people wanted to fit in or bought items impulsively. 

With that being said, if there’s a trend that you truly see yourself participating in, go for it! I still wear my ‘VSCO girl scrunchies’ to this day!

Repurpose Clothing

On the topic of fashion trends going out of style, there are still ways to repurpose clothing in order to continue to wear it. For example, I may not flaunt a tank top I wore in eighth grade now, as a freshman in college, but it can definitely work as pajamas! Fun fact: my prom dress was a repurposed hand-me-down from my mom!

Create a capsule wardrobe

This wardrobe is specially crafted to ensure many different clothing pieces pair well with others. Whenever I shop with the intent of creating a capsule wardrobe, I find myself ditching lots of pieces that simply wouldn’t match with the other articles of clothing I have. I’ve avoided very extravagant patterns by realizing that they wouldn’t match with my cool toned closet.

Thrift or borrow

Lastly, something so simple as thrifting clothes and accepting hand-me-downs extend the lifetime of many articles of clothing. On top of that, it provides another level of comfort knowing that the article of clothing was once loved, and now you are the new owner! Additionally, you can also borrow items from a friend for a specific event. Some of my friends borrowed prom dresses from each other to avoid spending a lot of money, especially for an item of clothing you’d never wear again.

While the fashion industry has a lot to work on, we can do these small things to make such a greater impact. Repurposing a piece of clothing or understanding that the most recent fashion trend isn’t really a trend you like can go a long way. All change is good change! 

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Ash is a freshman at Boston University, studying Public Relations at the College of Communication and minoring in Environmental Analysis and Policy. In her free time, she loves to curate Spotify playlists, watch New Girl, and be surrounded by nature!
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