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What should I do with my old wardrobe as I switch to a sustainable lifestyle?


The sustainability conversation in the fashion industry has moved from sidelines to the frontline in last few years. From fashion influencers & journalists to human rights & eco activists and ethical brands everyone is advocating for a more sustainable fashion industry, inspiring many to switch to a planet-friendly wardrobe.

Congratulations if you have decided to make your wardrobe more sustainable!

There must a million questions on your mind - what should I do with my existing wardrobe? Should I give away everything that is not sustainable - those polyester dresses and PVC bags? Do I need to start shopping from sustainable brands? Where can I learn about sustainable fashion brands?

If you're not sure where or how to start your journey, that's okay. We've all been there when we started and are still learning and growing everyday. Don't be overwhelmed and remember you don't have to be perfect from day one or ever. But you need to be mindful of your choices.

Ahead I've addressed the most common questions along with small {yet impactful} changes you can make to your shopping habits that won't cost you or the environment.

First question that often comes to mind is - 
Should I start buying sustainable clothing?

Rushing out to splurge on a bunch of eco-friendly outfits from responsible brands is not the right way to start your journey as a sustainable fashion consumer.

Many of us make this mistake - discarding items from our wardrobe that we don't think are "sustainable" and trying to swap them with ethically made pieces crafted from eco-friendly materials. In fact, that's the biggest sustainable fashion blunder.

Sustainable Fashion - How to start sustainable wardrobe journey - What should I do with existing clothes - ethical fashion tips
Sustainable fashion is not about buying the most ethical clothing and accessories or spending a fortune on the ethical brands. It's really about making sure the clothes we already own are well taken care of and treasured for a lifetime. The most ethical way to be a sustainable fashionista is to avoid shopping. As Vivienne Westwood rightly said "Buy less. Choose Well. Make it Last."

Your closet may already be filled with heaps of clothing, of which you probably don't wear over half the things. Make that your starting point, and kick start your sustainable fashion journey by rediscovering your wardrobe.

A great way to rediscover your wardrobe is to participate in the 10x10 challenge. Chose 10 pieces of clothing and challenge yourself to create 10 outfits with them.

You may find items in your wardrobe that need fixing. Choose to mend instead of toss the items that are torn, have a broken zip or don't fit right. It used to be the norm. However, now its way too convenient to toss than repair considering how easy and affordable it is to replace an item these days. No more.....
Sustainable Fashion Guide - What to do with my old clothes

What should I do with items that I don't need anymore?

Now that you have organized your closet and been through step 1 (above), you may have certain items that either don't fit you or you don't need anymore. For those, the first thing you should do is check with your friends and family if someone would be interested in it. 

Next best  thing you can do it is to give them someone in need, by yourself. You can also choose to donate to organizations that take second-hand clothing and pass them on to those in need. Alternatively, you can sell them on eBay or a second-hand clothing store or participate in clothing swaps. 

But how will I stay stylish if I don't own the "latest trends"?

Style is about individuality rather than mimicking trends. You should focus on fashion as something that you love - something that's timeless and treasured for a lifetime, not thrown away after a couple of wears. Besides, the concept of "trends" fuels consumerism, which is antithetical to sustainable fashion.

Sustainable fashion blogger -  Stella McCartney Vegan Shoes - Vegan Fashion BloggerWhat should I do if I need new clothes?

Shopping is a luxury, it takes its toll on the planet, and it should be practiced responsibly.

Know this. Every new item of clothing produced has an enormous carbon footprint. However, the amount of new energy needed to produce vintage clothing is 'zero'. Choosing vintage or pre-owned is a sustainable and inexpensive way to shop, plus it keeps your look original too.

If you need an outfit for a special occasion, which you know you aren't going to use again, choose to rent or borrow {instead of buying new or vintage}. Renting or borrowing brings a frisson of newness to your wardrobe while minimizing consumption and saving  you some bucks. There are great cloth rental startups in almost every part of the world, find the ones in your region. Or borrow from your sisters or friends. This concept is called "circular economy" - an economic system aimed at minimizing waste and making the most of resources. It is the future of fashion. So hop on to this trend and be a conscious fashionista at the same time!

However, if you must buy new shop from ethical brands that treat the people, planet and animals well. Invest in items that are timeless, transcend seasons and can last you a lifetime. Buying better quality, more sustainable pieces is likely to cost you more money than buying cheap products from fast-fashion brand that doesn't tick the right boxes. However, it's all about changing your mindset. Yes you are paying more, but you are investing in one good quality item that you will wear longer and will last longer.

There are so many great ethical brands out there now that you will be surprised at the options - brands with transparent supply chains and fair wages for garment workers and who use sustainable fabrics in their collections foregoing animal cruelty. Websites like Good On You have a huge brands directory and are brilliant for information about their sustainable credentials.

Long story short - before you swipe your card for that shiny new purchase that you're thinking about, remember that it comes with an enormous environmental impact {yes even the sustainable options}. So instead of buying new, thrift it, rent it or borrow it.


P.S. - I have this River Island skirt in my wardrobe, and while I am aware it is not a sustainable garment - I continue to use it despite being an ethical fashion consumer. I've worn it countless times, and I will continue to show-off this sparkly statement piece as long as its alive! 

Repeating the outfits you already own, mending them when they go wrong and wearing them again is the mantra for sustainable dressing.

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