Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

How to Make Your Wardrobe Sustainable

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at George Mason University chapter.

The Earth is continuing to deteriorate and the fashion industry is a majorly overlooked culprit. With fast fashion becoming an easy route to keep up with recent and rapidly changing trends, companies like Zara, Topshop, H&M and Forever 21 can rapidly produce mass quantities of clothing for a fraction of the cost they resell it for, doing more harm than good to both the environment and factory workers. These clothes typically end up in landfill as a result of cheap clothing perpetrating the “one time use and throw” mindset and use immense amounts of water, energy and other resources to create. However, sustainability has slowly been making its way into the fashion industry and media and, as a result, people are starting to become more aware of the products they buy.

According to Green Strategy, sustainable fashion is “clothing, shoes and accessories that are manufactured, marketed and used in the most sustainable manner possible, taking into account both environmental and socio-economic aspects.  “In essence, sustainable fashion takes into account the entire life cycle of a product, from creation to destruction, and ensures the minimization of environmental damage while creating and delivering these products ethically and responsibly.

As consumers, it is our responsibility to be conscious of our actions and purchases and realize the effects of it. Being sustainable comes in many forms, whether it be thrifting, consignment stores or just buying sustainably. While buying sustainable products is a great option in the long run, there are also ways to make your current (and future) wardrobe eco-friendly. Here’s how:

1. Mend your own clothing

Don’t throw away that new blouse because you popped a button or that sweater your dog chewed a hole in. It is easy to sew back slightly torn pieces and an affordable way to change up an old article of clothing into something more you, more new. Add turquoise buttons. Embroider a blossom. Add some funky pockets. Establish your style and flaunt it! Upcycling your wardrobe and working with what you got is an amazing way to avoid your clothes ending up in landfills and with the Internet at our fingertips, your upcycling ideas are endless.

2. Donate or sell old clothes

When it comes the time to get rid of clothes you’ve outgrown or just simply don’t want anymore, either donate them or sell them to another person or a second-hand clothing shop, instead of throwing it away. By doing so, you are making an effort to ensure that your clothes get recycled and reused, benefitting both yourself as well as the environment. While you’re in the thrift shop, look around and try and find some pieces you like and would wear, you never know what treasures you may find.

3. Repurpose!

Reuse, reduce, recycle were the words preached during our elementary school years but it’s time to add a fun fourth R: repurpose. What to do when you decide it’s time to give up that raggedy t-shirt you’ve worn to shreds? You can repurpose it and give it a new life. Turn it into a cleaning rag, make it into a toy for your pets or even make it into a headband! Either way, you are making the most out of what you already have. Here’s a cool list of other things in your wardrobe and home that you can repurpose.

4. Be conscious of where you are buying from

When it does come time to buy new clothes, no one is expecting you to spend your entire paycheck to afford clothing from Reformation or Rag and Bone. Being mindful and aware of your where your purchases are coming from is just as important. Shop ethical and eco-friendly! You can do so by being aware of fashion company’s labor policies and their transparency in the creation of their products. Read their mission statements and familiarize yourself with what they stand for and whether they pay affordable and fair wages to their labor forces. Environmentally, materials such as organic cotton, hemp and recycled products are great since they require less water and chemicals to produce.

The idea of sustainable products is always associated with expensive, which is not always true. While it is pricier than fast fashion brands, it is for good reason and good cause. Here are some brands that offer sustainable products at a reasonable price that you could check out.

It is easy to buy something cheaper without considering its environmental effects, I know since I’ve only recently started being more aware of my purchases myself. But, our Earth is in danger and everyone should start committing themselves to helping her. No action is ever too small.

Ignorance is not always bliss, collegiettes. Be conscious.

Nancy Nyamaa

George Mason University '19

Nancy is currently a senior at George Mason majoring in communication (concentration in journalism) and minoring in conflict analysis & resolution. She's passionate about true crime podcasts, baking, and editing. After she graduates she hopes to pursue a career in journalism and eventually go to grad school.