Not all brands are as eco-friendly as they claim to be. Here’s what to look out for.
As more and more people become aware of the impact of clothing production on the environment, the demand for sustainable fashion continues to increase exponentially. Consumers, especially the younger generation, have become more discriminating. They prefer spending their hard-earned money on eco-friendly businesses instead of fast-fashion brands that consume too many resources, produce considerable carbon emissions, and dump large amounts of waste and toxins in bodies of water.
Although opting for ethical fashion brands is ideal, it is not always easy for the budget-conscious and those who enjoy having lots of items in their wardrobe. After all, eco-friendly brands are more expensive as they strive to create well-made, ethically sourced, and sustainably produced products. In contrast, fast-fashion retailers provide a wide variety of affordable and stylish products, though they sacrifice quality, workers’ welfare, and the health of the environment to keep their products cheap.
Fortunately, being eco-friendly and fashion-conscious does not have to be mutually exclusive. If you want to build a sustainable wardrobe without breaking the bank, read on. This article will give you a better appreciation of eco-friendly fashion brands, tips on how to shop for sustainable clothing on a budget, and pointers on building a wardrobe that’s sure to last.
What Makes a Clothing Brand Eco-friendly?
When you understand the environmental, social, and humanitarian implications of fashion production, deciding where to buy cotton leggings and other garments entails so much more than merely choosing a clothing brand. Indeed, patronizing a specific retailer means that you also support its values and business practices. That said, wouldn’t you want to give your support to eco-friendly fashion brands, if given the chance?
Eco-friendly fashion companies care deeply about Mother Earth. Apart from ensuring that their production processes do not harm the planet, such businesses also find ways to create a positive impact on the environment. For instance, some eco-minded brands use regenerative agriculture farming practices to encourage biodiversity and maintain soil health. Some of them even plant trees for every item purchased from their stores. Besides adopting a green business model, here are other qualities that make a clothing brand truly eco-friendly:
- They treat their workers well. Ethical fashion businesses pay their workers a fair living wage. They also guarantee a conducive and safe working environment and reasonable work hours. More importantly, they never use forced or child labor.
- They make high-quality products. Unlike fast-fashion retailers that create clothing items that fall apart after only a few wears, eco-friendly brands produce durable and long-lasting garments.
- They follow a sustainable manufacturing and distribution process. Ethical companies make sure that their products can be reused or recycled at the end of their life. As such, many of them offer lifetime free repairs, discounts, or store credit for turning in old items purchased from their stores.
- They work with charity organizations. In the spirit of becoming a force for good, many ethical brands work with charity groups or pledge a portion of their profits to a good cause. They’re not only interested in earning as much money as humanly possible. Rather, they also work to make the world a better place.
How to Shop Sustainably Without Spending a Lot of Money
Contrary to common misconceptions, shopping more consciously does not necessarily mean spending more money. You can purchase affordable eco-friendly garments with a few tips and tricks. Here are some of them:
Go Vintage Shopping
Buying from vintage or second-hand shops is one of the best ways to upgrade your wardrobe with high-end and unique pieces without harming the environment or emptying your wallet. However, don’t expect to find clothing items that will suit your taste perfectly, given that they’re not tailor-made nor from the same brands or even time periods.
That said, the key to successful vintage shopping is patience and imagination. So, give yourself enough time to browse what’s on offer, and try to see the potential in each garment. Will it look good if you make minor alterations or swap out its belts and buttons for new ones? You can also try mixing up trends from different eras to create a unique and fresh look.
Try Garage Sales
Besides frequenting vintage stores, you can also shop for clothes at garage sales. Remember to wear an undershirt or tank top and leggings or biker shorts underneath your regular clothes before going to one of these events. This clothing combination will make it much easier and more convenient for you to try on any of the items they have for sale. Again, use your imagination. Look for the potential of the clothes on offer, and think about how they can work with your existing outfits.
Host Some Clothing Swap Parties
Declutter your closet and update your wardrobe without spending a single penny by organizing clothing swap parties. All you need to do is invite your friends or family members for a small get-together wherein all of you can bring unwanted (but still wearable) clothes for swapping. Try on the pieces you like from their stashes, and exchange them for the old ones that you no longer fancy.
Buy from Flash Sale Websites
Besides opting for second-hand clothes, you can also use flash sale websites to purchase new pieces from eco-friendly brands without burning a hole through your wallet. These sites offer discounted products to shoppers, but with a catch: the offerings only last for a few hours or a couple of days. Since you’ll never know when eco-friendly items may go on sale, you’ll want to check the site regularly. That being said, be careful not to give in to impulse purchases that you’ll only regret later, as that’s the opposite of being sustainable.
Five Easy Ways to Build a Lasting Wardrobe
A critical component of a sustainable lifestyle is building a lasting wardrobe. The last thing you want is to collect countless clothing items that will only end up in the landfill after a few uses. What you need are pieces that you can use over and over again for many years.
To help you build a timeless and sustainable closet, here are several tips that can help:
Consider Your Needs and Lifestyle
The first step to building a lasting wardrobe is figuring out what type of clothes you need the most. For example, if you work from home, you’ll need to invest in more casual garments instead of business clothes. Essentially, when you know what you need, you won’t waste time and money investing in items that you’ll hardly use.
Start with Your Closet
Make an inventory of all the clothes you currently have. Keep the pieces you need the most and discard the items you no longer wear (and likely never will) by giving them away or donating them to charity. By doing so, you can make the most out of the clothes you actually like or use regularly, and none will be left unused in your closet for long.
Invest in Quality Items
The key to building a long-lasting wardrobe is to invest in high-quality pieces that you won’t have to replace often. If you’re on a tight budget, you can wait for sales, use coupons, or find great deals online.
Choose Versatile Pieces
You don’t need a closet full of clothes to be fashionable. You just need a few versatile pieces that you can readily mix and match to create a variety of outfits. This can include a crisp white tee, dark denim pants, and a maxi dress, among many other stylish items that go well with practically any outfit. Get ideas from fashion magazines to see how you can transform your existing clothes in many ways.
Spend Money on Clothes That Will Stand the Test of Time
Besides investing in versatile pieces, you should also spend more money on classic items, such as a black dress, a white dress shirt, and a black blazer. Unlike trendy clothes that you can only enjoy during a specific fashion season, timeless clothing never goes out of style. They are also easy to dress up or dress down by simply changing your shoes and accessories.
All in all, sustainable fashion is not only for people who can afford to spend serious money on clothing items. Rather, it’s a lifestyle that’s possible for anyone to achieve. Although purchasing new products from eco-friendly brands is always a good option, there are many other ways to start your sustainable fashion journey. You just need to remember that the goal is to be stylish while keeping the planet and the greater good in mind.
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