Don't Be Trashy: Sustainable Styles for Students

Sustainability is a major trending topic right now, and it can often be overwhelming to navigate your own part in all of it. If you’re into fashion, shopping and your personal style, consider that the fashion industry is one of the top polluting industries. We can strive for change if we enact for change.

Shop secondhand

This isn’t just a good way to save money but also a great way to create less waste for the environment. With the emergence of thrifting trends, there are so many cool curated second-hand stores to shop from. They’re not just established brick and mortar stores anymore, as you might see from a friend of a friend that has an Instagram store or even when searching for something more specific on Depop. It’s also a great opportunity to find unique pieces and be creative with your style! It’s a totally different experience to find that one clothing item in your one size and colour in a thrift store than to be in a Zara or H&M rifling through racks of identical “trendy” clothing that everyone will be wearing.

Be a more conscious consumer

Research is such a crucial part of becoming a more conscious consumer and shopper. There is so much to learn about! Learn to read clothing labels to understand what the clothing item is composed of, from its physical fabric to the chemical dyes it may be coloured with. Natural fabrics (like cotton, wool and silk) are so much better for our bodies and the environment too. Whereas synthetics (like polyester and nylon) lack the same quality and are uncomfortable to wear because they trap heat. Harmful chemicals that may be used in industrial colour dyes can be transferred from our clothes to our bodies or even into our water systems when we wash our clothes. Plus, find out how ethical a company is before you buy from them! It’s not just about their actions toward the planet but how they treat their employees and clothing makers as well.

Shop less, invest in quality instead

Ask yourself: “Do I really need this?” Fast fashion stores thrive off producing new, trendy pieces at a low quality and cheap price, not only every season, but practically every few weeks. Sure, it might be fun to wear what was trending on TikTok for like two minutes, but when it comes out of the dryer shrunken or misshapen after a couple of washes, you’re most likely going to toss it out so it sits in our landfills. Instead, invest in timeless pieces that are of much better quality - although they’re a bit pricier, they’ll last longer, feel better on your skin and most likely are made from a company that’s paying its workers a decent wage and is providing a safer workplace environment.

Adjust your washing habits

Laundry is such a mundane task that you probably don’t even think twice about it aside from splitting the whites from the colours. Wash your clothes less, wash in cold water and air dry when possible - this can save tremendously on energy and water consumption. Try hand washing when possible, especially on knits and delicates to help them last longer and keep their shape. Consider switching to an eco-friendly laundry detergent, it’s a bit pricier but the benefits are definitely worth it. Traditional laundry detergents have toxic chemicals that we absorb into our bodies, and they can interrupt our natural hormonal cycles. Eco-friendly laundry detergents are much better for our bodies and create less wastewater pollution.

Don’t toss your unwanted clothes into the garbage

Stop tossing your old and unwanted clothes into the garbage! They’ll end up sitting in the landfill for generations on end. Instead, learn to mend, repair or tailor your clothes and upcycle or find new ways to wear it or use the fabric. You can also donate your gently worn clothes to local thrift stores, resell them on Depop or swap with your friends.

Living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle doesn’t have to be super complicated. Changing our own fashion habits is just the beginning.