History in the Making

Living Sustainably, Pt III: Your Wardrobe

Welcome to the third part of my sustainability series! While Part I was all about food, and Part II was all about the home, this is going to focus on how to tackle your wardrobe and make changes for a more green closet! (For anyone following along, I will be doing a fourth part next week.) We all have thoughtful and specific-to-us wardrobes that suit our tastes and needs, but that doesn’t mean that it suits the environment. Building a sustainable wardrobe is certainly a long term but worthwhile process that can be done by anyone! Today I’m sharing the four things you can focus on when looking at your wardrobe with green glasses…
Living Sustaibably, Pt III, Your Wardrobe

Lilly for Target Upstream Shift
Thrift, Thrift, Thrift!
One of my best blogging friends, Charlotte, has two wonderful posts that you should read on this- I will wait until you are back… Recycling and reusing clothing is one of the best ways to cut down on your fashion consumption. Yes, it is easy to quickly go and grab that new shirt from H&M or Forever 21 rather than look through sale groups and thrift stores, but every item you buy second hand is one less item you are starting from scratch on. Now, I understand that you not buying that shirt doesn’t mean that it wasn’t already made but if we all start incorporating this practice into our wardrobe, companies will see that they are selling less and therefore produce less. Plus, it’s a great way to find some hard-to-find, holy grail pieces and possibly save some money! (My post on sale boards here!)

Red T-Shirt

This neckline doesn’t suit me at all, and was a poor choice!

Take Inventory of Your Wardrobe 

Take a few hours (or days, if you are like me…) and take stock of what you actually have in your wardrobe. What you always wear, what you never wear, and what you happen to wear if nothing else is clean. Think about why you don’t wear specific pieces- if it is because it doesn’t fit, have it tailored or donate it. If you don’t actually like it, make a note of it so you don’t make that mistake again and donate it. And if you aren’t wearing it because it’s worn out, make a note to find it again when you can and make the most of what is left (see below on making the most). No one needs five of the same shirt (I don’t know why I fall prey to that…) and no needs three hundred pieces of clothing when they can feasibly only wear fifty on a regular basis. Be thoughtful and consider what you actually need.

HM Sustainable Line

This from H&M’s Conscious line, developed for sustainability!
Find Ethical and Environmentally Aware Companies
Take the time to find ethical and environmentally aware companies that are working to limit the impact that their production and processes have the environment and every involved from start to finish. You might not be able to start purchasing from them right away- they can be more expensive than we are used to with fast fashion prices- but keep an eye out and get a feeling for what is out there. While H&M is a fast fashion store, they do carry a handful of “conscious” lines that are working to better the retail industry; frankly it’s a drop in the bucket but it’s a step in the right direction!! Most of us do have to save or set aside money for clothing purchases, and it helps to have an idea of what brands to look at before you need to go buy that shirt because you leave on a business trip tomorrow.
Make the Most of Your Clothing
If you are going to buy fast fashion, make sure it is something that will last for years. I can’t afford to go all high end for my clothing, but when I do buy my cardigans from H&M, I’m able to get 3-5 years out of them. (Yes, years.) However, I do know that sometimes the lifespan of a piece in our wardrobe does come to an end. Not going to wear those sorority or sports team t-shirts again? Turn them into a quilt! I can guarantee that the sections not used on the front of the quilt will be put to good use- either as filling for the quilt or pieces that go into the scrap bag- and it is going to be a warm blanket that you will keep for decades. Have a cotton pair of pajama pants or a towel that you no longer need? Use them for rags when you are cleaning; it extends the life of the fabric and cuts down on having to buy specific cleaning materials! And if you can’t use it for something but it is still wearable, donate it. Both women’s and men’s shelters look for casual and business clothing for their clients, specifically business clothing for when they are searching for jobs. Here in Canada, the Canadian Diabetes Association also has clothing donation bins all over the cities, making the process even more convenient. Do everything you can before throwing that piece of clothing into the garbage!
How do you take a green approach to your wardrobe? 
Also, stay tuned for a Part IV next week- I’ve decided to do a post on “odds and ends” that don’t really fit into any post but I still think are worthwhile!
Until tomorrow,
The Historian!
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8 thoughts on “Living Sustainably, Pt III: Your Wardrobe”

  • Excellent post.
    I wish I was better at shopping in charity shops/thrift shops. I find it reeeeally hard to find things. 🙁

  • I had no idea how bad the clothing industry was on the environment until I saw a documentary on minimalism. It really opened my eyes. In the documentary was a person who adhered to Project 333, try to only have 33 items of clothing, shoes, and accessories every 3 months. I pared down my closet, which wasn’t that hard for me. I’m not really into clothes. Since I’ve moved, though, everything is all messed up. I need to go back and weed through it. And now I live in an area where I have actual seasons, so I have to stock up on winter clothes. Project 333 just sort of forces you to make smarter choices, buy more well made clothing, and really think about where your stuff comes from, much like what you’re talking about here. You are probably doing it right now, as a matter of fact.

    • I don’t have a specific number but I do operate on the “one in, one out” model- preferably “one in, two out”! Because I do live somewhere that has four extreme seasons, it’s tough to cut it down completely but I’m taking the next few months to improve on it. I’ve found the only way to make it work is to be strict with yourself- if I spot something I want, I have to decide what I’m getting rid of before it’s purchased! Clothing is the cause of a lot of waste, and materialism, and although I love clothes, I constantly remind myself they are just things. A healthy planet is more important than a cute top. (U should note the exception to this is socks and underwear…)

  • I’m okay with that- in this case I know that the money will be well-used and the clothing will continue on its life’s journey! However, as you say, you should certainly do your research before giving to any charitable organisations to ensure that you are okay with what they do with it!!…
    I’m excited to hear about your purchases- update us when you’ve got the stores!!! ?

  • Just a note on the Diabetes Association from someone who work with charities and community services for years back home… They are a bit of a scam. They don’t take the time to sort through all the clothes and most of them are not donated but sold for price and the moeny goes into their pockets. If you have a 211 where you live, they can indicate you places where you can give. Like you said, shelters are always happy to receive too! It’s a great post though… I’m doing a bit of cleaning in my wardrobe these days to make space for new clothes and it made me think about where I’ll go shopping for those new clothes! Thank you!

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