Whether you're building a sustainable closet or an ecofriendly brand, it's a journey of commitment and improving things as you go. If you wait until you’ve figured out how to be "perfectly" sustainable to start, you legit might be waiting forever. So instead, just begin right now with the budget and resources you have. Here are 5 simple, but impactful steps you can take today to get your sustainable journey going at no extra cost.
#1 Fill Your Washing Machine
Taking good care of the clothes you already own is perhaps the most sustainable thing you can do. Since handwashing your whole wardrobe isn’t very practical, an easy adjustment is to machine wash your clothes in fuller loads. This reduces the amount of friction and wear that’s placed on them as they get washed, keeping them in better shape for longer.
#2 Skip the Dryer
Between the heat and tumble, the dryer is a pretty hostile environment for clothes. So try skipping the dryer when possible, and let your clothes air dry instead. Hanging them up or laying them over a foldable clothing rack are great, space-efficient ways to do so.
#3 Become a Proud Outfit Repeater
Yass queen! There’s no shame in wearing an outfit again and again. Why? 1) You have great taste. 2) It’s sustainable AF! Overconsumption fuels fast fashion and is a major environmental issue. Think of it this way. If the expectation is that you always “need” a new outfit, you’re more likely to buy cheap, poorly-made clothes (aka fast fashion that will fall apart after a few wears). However when you become a proud outfit repeater, you aren’t shopping as often and are more likely to thoughtfully invest in quality garments, which will last you in the long term.
#4 Mend things that break
Your shirt lost a button? Youtube how to put it back on. Your bag got a hole? Sew on a cool patch to close it up. Rather than tossing clothes that show some wear, try giving them some extra TLC instead. Talk to a tailor or seamstress for assistance. You can also check out Mending Matters: Stitch, Patch, and Repair Your Favorite Denim & More by Katrina Rodabaugh for some creative ideas and mending instructions (it’s an awesome resource).
#5 Find Unwanted Clothes a Second home
When you no longer want to keep something, put in the effort to find it a second home. Throwing out unwanted clothes might be easy, but it is a HUGE part of our environmental crisis. The average American tosses 81 lbs of clothing a year, which amounts to 26 billion lbs of textiles ending up in landfills. So…yikes! Let’s stop that. As an alternative, host a clothing swap or use resell platforms like Thred Up and Poshmark. It’s important to try to find someone who will love these clothes because that’s what will keep them out of the landfill in the long term. If you’re unable to find them a new home, then donate to Goodwill, a local thrift shop or women's shelter.
Any sustainable step taken is a step in the right direction, so do what you can. Try some (or all) of these out and let me know what you think. Have any other recs for sustainable steps that cost $0? Send them my way! I’d love to hear them!
x Kristine of Declarative