In any venture, any goal, the key is to getting started. To start where you are. Often, we spend a lot of time and energy rationalizing to ourselves why we aren’t ready for the change, telling ourselves that we don’t have the time, the knowledge. Starting can feel overwhelming, intimidating. But the truth is starting is the hardest part.
So how do you get motivated to take action? Answer: start somewhere!
This is also the answer when it comes to switching to a more sustainable way of buying. There are easy and concrete ways to work toward a more sustainable lifestyle.
Today, we will talk about five ways to start aligning your wardrobe with your values.
- Clean your closet
On a day when you have a good amount of free time, dive into the exercise of cleansing your closet. It is amazingly relaxing! Seriously, the powerful benefits of an uncluttered home have been praised in numerous studies.
The idea here is to evaluate what you have and only keep the clothes that you love, the ones that make you feel good. In her book, “The life-changing magic of tidying up”, Marie Kondo suggests to get rid of clothing that doesn’t spark joy. You can use any technique you like but the idea is to only keep clothes that make you feel good about yourself when you wear them.
Now, switching to a more sustainable wardrobe does not mean getting rid of everything that does not uphold the criteria of sustainability. On the contrary! Keep the clothes you love in your closet and cherish those pieces. Then make a promise to yourself that any new purchase will be a more sustainable one.
- Shop less and buy better
80 billion pieces of clothing are purchased worldwide each year, 400% more than two decades ago. Americans alone produced 15.1 million tons of textile waste in 2013, and around 85% percent of that waste ended up in landfills.
One reason we’re overwhelmed with “stuff” is because as clothing gets cheaper, we can continue buying without our bank account suffering. We buy things without thinking about them - we buy a dress for one party, a new sweater because it is on sale. But not only are these purchases bad for our overflowing closet, they also lead to more waste and more pollution. 2.1 million tons of CO2 emissions are produced by the apparel and textile industry each year (second only to the oil industry).
This is why it’s important to shop more consciously, to truly think about every purchase we make. You can try to apply the “30 wears rule” (created by Livia Firth, founder of Eco-age). Before buying any new clothes, ask yourself if you are likely to wear it at least 30 times, if it’s a YES then go ahead, buy it and cherish it! Imagine having a closet full of clothes you love. It is also so much easier to get dressed every morning when you have fewer, better clothes.
- Choose high quality clothes
Now if you want to be able to wear a piece at least 30 times, durability is a key component. It pays to invest in the best quality. Wouldn’t you rather have one amazing dress that will last forever instead of 10 cheap dresses that will look worn out after 2 or 3 laundry cycles?
High-quality construction also calls for better techniques and requires skilled craftsmen who are usually paid better and work in safer, cleaner environments and ateliers, so human trafficking and child labor is less of an issue.
- Read the right tag
High quality does not depend on the price tag but more on the fabric tag. The only way to judge true quality is by looking at the construction of the piece, the material used. Don’t assume that you are getting what you pay for when you buy high-end designer brands. While these fabrics are generally better than those used by fast fashion brands, you are often mostly paying for marketing.
Always prioritize natural materials as oppose to synthetic materials. Synthetic materials like polyester, acrylic or nylon are not biodegradable and end up sitting in landfills for decades to centuries. Plus, making synthetic fabrics require toxic chemicals that pollute the air, water, soil and eventually get turned into the clothes we wear on our skin everyday.
- Prioritize transparent companies
Natural fabric does not mean clean history. There are so many steps involved to make a t-shirt, from the cotton plant to your closet, and you want to make sure that nobody was harmed along the way. This is why traceability is key. As the “who made my clothes” movement encourages, we need the brands to be fully transparent with the way they produce our clothes. As a consumer, you have the right to know the origins of your clothes, ask questions to the brands and require full transparency. All the brands we carry at ICONABLE have a full traceability over their production and more and more brands like Everlane, Zady or Patagonia are fully transparent about their production.
No matter where or how you start, the importance is to start! At ICONABLE we are firm believers that small steps add up to big changes. Even the smallest commitment you make has a huge impact as it will inspire others, communicate your standards and send a message to the clothing industry. Together we are stronger. Be the change, be the Icon, show the way to a better world!