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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Two years ago, I was on my second attempt to buy clothing from a popular fast fashion company when I realized that the pieces I received were practically falling apart. This was the second time I had spent hard-earned money on clothing from this business, only to receive products that looked and performed nothing like their online photos. The cheap fabric, thin materials, and lack of transparency about the company’s labor and sourcing practices led me to distance myself from the entire market. Although it wasn’t easy to ignore the accessibility and low prices of many of the prominent fast fashion brands, I knew the commitment to building an ethical and sustainable relationship with fashion would be worth it. I truly wanted my closet to include quality pieces that would last me years, and with the existence of so many incredible sustainable brands it was a much easier transition than I imagined. If you’ve been interested in developing a more sustainable wardrobe in your own closet, read on for a list of the top suggestions I’ve gathered.

organize your current closet

We often spend so much time wearing the same pieces that we forget about the rest of our wardrobe. Make a mental list of the clothing you’ve gotten the most wear out of, and look for the qualities in each of those pieces that keep you coming back for them. Whether it’s the fit, color, or material of the items, now you’ll know what to look for when you’re shopping.

Next, choose what clothing you want to get rid of. There’s no need to do a complete purge, but recognizing which items no longer serve your needs will help you make room for those that do. Some ways that you can responsibly clear out clothing include donating, organizing a clothing swap with friends, or upcycling.

Shop Responsibly

Research brand mission statements as well as the data on where they source their clothing from. Unfortunately, the fashion industry is ripe with companies that underpay, overwork, or attempt to hide their labor practices. Finding brands that you trust to create quality pieces in an ethical manner will make your shopping experience so much more satisfactory.

Another option for shopping responsibly is visiting your local thrift store. There, you can find donated clothing ready for a new home, and often for lower prices than average stores. Let’s face it– sustainable brands are not always affordable, and even though the benefits of their production quality and materials are extensive, thrift shopping is a great alternative.

Prioritize Quality

It’s no secret that companies are interested in profit. With the recent rise in consumer knowledge and skepticism of brands’ commitments to sustainable and ethical practices, be aware that many fast-fashion businesses will use marketing tactics to greenwash their image. By prioritizing shopping from brands that you’ve researched and trust, you can be sure the items you receive will be quality goods. Instead of focusing on the quantity of garments you can purchase from a store, take some time to consider which pieces you really love and will get the most wear out of. Doing this can save you time and money in the future from having to declutter your closet or donate pieces you never wear.

When purchasing, focus on the materials clothing items are made of. Recycled cotton, organic hemp and linen, and recycled polyester are all better for the environment. Plus, their high quality will ensure that they last you much longer than other materials would allow.

Take Care of Your Clothing

A key aspect of a sustainable closet is the longevity of your clothing. Knowing how to properly wash, dry, and stow garments can add to their lifespan and keep them looking brand new. Most clothing items will include a tag with information about the cleaning settings they need, as well as any other suggestions you need to know. Following these instructions and recognizing that each item has individual requirements will help you to help them. Loving the clothing you own also includes giving it every opportunity to last in your closet, so you can continue looking fabulous on the daily.

Remember that switching to sustainable shopping habits should be a fun and rewarding transition! Make sure to give yourself grace throughout the process and don’t rush into quick decisions. Organizing, donating, researching, and shopping from trustworthy brands is a fantastic opportunity for you to create the wardrobe you’ve always dreamed of in a more ethical and environmentally-friendly way.

Sol Knapstad

Washington '23

Sol is a third year student studying Creative Writing and Law, Societies & Justice at the University of Washington. She is a published author of 5 years and loves reading, baking, hiking, and traveling in her free time.
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