Written by: Mary Diekmeier
When most of us think of sustainability, the first thing that probably comes to mind is recycling, volunteering, etc., but there are actually many different ways of being sustainable that you might not have thought of before! In this article, we’re focusing on how to be sustainable right in our own closets by achieving sustainability through clothing. You can do it by considering a few factors.
The fashion/textile industry is one of the most wasteful industries in the world. Not so surprising, considering textiles don’t really biodegrade. It’s our job to do our part and be less wasteful in our own lives to sustain the earth for years to come. So let’s focus on how we can change our shopping habits. Can you think of a garment you’ve bought that was pretty inexpensive, bought on a whim, and ended up falling apart a few washes in? When that happens, the first thought is usually to just throw it away. Consider a few alternatives when shopping.
- Ask yourself how often you see yourself wearing whatever you’re considering buying. Does it serve a function in your closet? Do you really love it? If the answer’s no, consider saving your money for something else.
- Invest in good clothing. Try to reduce how much you buy and how often you shop. Not only does this affect your clothing’s sustainability, it benefits your economic sustainability. Save up money for garments you really want that will last you a long time, and keep those garments for as long as they are useful to you. Shopping less = more sustainable!
If you already have clothes that you no longer want, there are several options to take beyond just throwing it away. Want the garment out of your closet, but it has no obvious signs of wear like major fading or rips/holes? Consider donating it. Whether it’s to Goodwill, a local charity, or even to a friend, try and make sure the product is reused. Another route is repurposing. Go on Pinterest, find a fun DIY, and turn an unwanted garment into something new for yourself or a friend!
Think twice about where you shop. Some stores are popular for being easy on the budget, but really consider the quality of the clothes that come from the stores you buy from. Avoid fast fashion. If you’re like me and love online shopping, there are lots of sustainable clothing retailers online. For example, if you’re looking for basic, staple items, the company Pact has a good selection, all made of 100% cotton. Also, don’t overlook secondhand clothing! Check out places like ThredUP or Poshmark, where regular people sell their lightly used clothing so it can gain more use through someone else.
There are lots of ways to shop sustainably right here in Columbia, MO. If you live on or near campus, the downtown area is just a short walk/bike ride away (which is also totally sustainable). A retailer downtown I would recommend is Route. It’s an apparel-based, non-profit and fair trade brick-and-mortar shop on 9th street. Also, a great idea if you’re trying to shop sustainably is to stop by the Peace Nook. A fighting power for sustainability here in Columbia, Peace Nook is another non-profit that sells books, various health food items, etc. as well as clothing! At any rate, buying locally is sustainable in and of itself, so next time you have a weekend free, visit the small businesses wherever you live and see if you can find the next addition to your closet!