5 Baby Steps Towards Sustainability

Hey you! I’m talking to you! You with the stash of t-shirts bought at Forever 21 and the cute jacket from Urban Outfitters. And also to you with that fabulous namebrand handbag that was made…where? You don’t know?

Lately it feels like sustainable fashion has gone from something out in left field to a topic that can’t be ignored. There was even a massive discussion on one of my favorite sites, The Business of Fashion. But all this discussion and information can leave a person feeling… a little overwhelmed. As a person who loves fashion and the earth how can you find things that are both fabulous and environmentally friendly – oh and not break the bank? As the creator of StyleDefinedNYC and now working at Manufacture New York I’ve been writing about fashion for the past seven years and moving into full on sustainability is admittedly a challenge but I have found two articles that make dipping your toe into a more sustainable lifestyle a little less overwhelming.

In a recent interview excerpt on Sierra Club, “Q+A With Kate Black, America’s Ethical Fashion Expert” she spoke about the fashion industry, its impact on the environment and ways we can create change on an individual level. One idea she mentioned was the idea of sharing clothes. Remember how you did that with your best friend when you were fourteen? Well the grown up idea is to use a service like Rent The Runway to rent a dress for a formal occasion when it’s unlikely you’ll ever need it again.

On the British Council site Fashion Programme Manager Kendall Robbins wrote an article called “How can you shop for fashion sustainability” that lists several ways you can begin to be more sustainable. She writes that remembering that there is a story behind your clothing – how it was made, how it traveled to get into the shop where you bought it – is a great first step. She also shares Lucy Siegle’s idea of a “curated wardrobe” aka being more conscious of what you buy and where it fits in with what you already own.

After doing my own research I’ve come up with five easy things you can do to move your dial further from fast fashion and more towards sustainable.

• Play Dress Up – You know the 80/20 rule. We wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. Unlike de-clutter blogs I’m not going to ask you to get rid of that 80% (yet) Instead spend a day going through your closet and find new clothing combinations. i.e. take a skirt that you love but for whatever reason never seem to wear and see if you can find different ways to wear it. I did this and was amazed with some results. Be sure to take photos on your phone to easily remember them.
• Stop Washing Your Jeans – washing consumes the largest amount of resources and the largest carbon footprint in the life of the garment so be like Tommy Hilfiger and don’t wash them! Think of all the extra games of Ms.PacMan you can play at your local bar with the laundry quarters (or maybe that’s just me) Afraid of germs? Throw them into your freezer next to the bottle of Absolut. In 72 hours all bacteria will be gone.
• Visit Skin Deep Cosmetics Database to check the safety of your beauty products – So far I’ve been talking about clothes but many many popular products are toxic for the environment and for your health as well. You need to check this site to find which are safe and which are not so you can shop smartly.
• Watch The True Cost documentary. – It’s on Netflix. And Amazon. And Apple. Seriously, I should take away your plastic until you watch it. That’s how major it is.
• Buy Magnifeco – Kate Black‘s shopping guide is a straightforward way to learn where you can find sustainable options.

These are the things I’ve started with and well…it’s a beginning. But I’d love to hear from you: what are ways that you’ve started changing your habits around shopping and fashion?

-Katya Moorman, Director of Communications
This was originally published on Pixie Warhol.