As we learn more and more about the largest contributors to pollution, there is a clear industry that is frequently mentioned as posing a substantial threat to the planet: fashion. The statistics are shocking. According to the United Nations, the fashion industry accounts for 10% of greenhouse gases caused by human activity.

It requires 10,000 litres of water to make a pair of regular jeans, an amount that would take one person 10 years to drink. Additionally, 85% of textiles end up in landfills or are incinerated, instead of being reused or repurposed. The fashion industry actually consumes more energy than the aviation and shipping industries combined, despite receiving much less attention from climate activists.

None of us can pretend to be sustainably focused if we continue to spend large amounts of money on fast fashion culture, so what can we do to lessen our wardrobe’s impact on the world?

Invest in higher quality staple items.

Do not listen to the trashy mags- outfit repetition is officially cool.

Mindlessly buying ‘trendy’ clothes only to never wear them again after a few months is not only wasteful, but it isn’t sustainable.

The best approach to owning clothes is to create a capsule wardrobe, aka a smaller amount of pieces that all complement each other, which you can mix and match however you like! Not only does this benefit the planet, but it also helps you create a signature style, which is never a bad thing. If you do this with timeless pieces that fit well and are made from higher quality materials, you will never again have that ‘I have nothing to wear’ meltdown just before leaving the house. You’re welcome.

Investing in staple pieces does not just refer to clothes, higher quality accessories are a must! Think about it, if you have to buy a new £20 bag every year as it breaks easily, why not buy a slightly more expensive one that could last you a decade! You wouldn’t need to worry about losing it either- as of course we would be able to insure it for you ? 

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure…

If you do happen to fall out of love with an item in your closet, never just throw it away! From Depop to Vinted, there are so many great apps designated to finding a new home for your clothes, plus you can make a few extra pounds! Of course, charity shops are another great option, but please do not dump low quality/overworn items on charity shop doorsteps, as they often have to front the costs of getting rid of items unsuitable for resale.

Another key tip is to not be afraid to get creative. If a jumpsuit is no longer your style, why not repurpose it as a top, or use the fabric to make something else?

Sometimes renting is the way forward.

Fashion rental outlets are becoming much more popular, and whilst overusing rental sites is not sustainable, it’s definitely a great option if you are looking for a special piece to only wear once. For example, who said you had to buy your wedding dress/suit? You can find designer bridal pieces that have been immaculately cared for at a fraction of the price, and then hand them back after your big day! 

Look at which fabrics you wear.

Many fast fashion brands primarily make their garments in fabrics derived from plastic, such as nylon and polyester. They are not biodegradable, and their creation can result in nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas far worse for the environment than carbon dioxide! As I mentioned earlier, jean production can also be really bad for the environment, but brands that use organic or recycled cotton are easy to find, and make a big difference. Linen is also a great sustainable fabric option, so make sure you incorporate plenty of linen garments into your capsule wardrobe. 

Where was my garment made?

Sustainability does not just involve looking after the planet, but looking after the people on it too. Fast fashion is notorious for its human rights abuses, from exploiting garment workers into working for less than minimum wage to not ensuring factory conditions are safe. A quick internet search can often tell you more about the working conditions in the factories producing your favourite threads.

Look at brands’ impact scores online.

Sites such as ‘good on you’ make it much easier to keep track of the sustainability record of your favourite stores, but warning, many of them fall short of meeting adequate standards of ethical sustainability. It is not all doom and gloom though, as good on you also offers sustainable alternatives to less environmentally friendly brands, so you might just find a new favourite!