Sophie Griffiths shares her sustainable style tips
BY SOPHIE GRIFFITHS
The world of “fast fashion” welcomes me with open arms. When I’m panicking about what to wear, I can stare into a bursting wardrobe for about 20 minutes quite easily, and still decide I’m going to need something new. Even if that’s just to go out to the same pub, with the same people every time.
This happens on a regular basis and when it does, I instantly run to the nearest shop on the high street, well aware that the clothes I’m buying aren’t made in an ethical or sustainable way. How can they be? If I’m paying the same price for a new top as I am for a round of drinks, surely something is amiss?
The term “sustainability” is getting plenty of traction in the style world as the negative implications of fast fashion are becoming increasingly apparent. The feelings of urgency and a throwaway culture are very common and there’s a certainly a link between our insatiable appetite for newness and social media influencers posting daily outfit looks which can be purchased in a one click fashion through apps like Instagram.
According to research by good ol’ Google, the fashion industry accounts for 20% of wastewater and 10% of carbon emissions globally. These should be hard-hitting figures, but it’s difficult to imagine the scale of this impact and how damaging it is for the planet when that skirt in your basket is the perfect length for you and matches the bag you bought last week.
The responsibility to champion sustainable fashion doesn’t lie solely with multi-million-pound brands that have created such short attention spans when it comes to clothing, either. We are the ones investing in the clothes that shape our wardrobes, as well as how the purchases shape the environment.
But there are plenty of ways you can be sustainable without compromising your style, I can assure you. Even if the thought seems daunting, here are a few easy pointers that will change the way you shop and make your style that bit more sustainable.
Charity shopping is a great place to start because you can still satisfy that craving of searching through rails to fill up your basket. By purchasing a second-hand item, you can rest assured that no new fibres have been made to create it, and it won’t end up in landfill. You’ll also save yourself money, too.
Never underestimate what unique and wonderful things you might find in a charity shop. If you visit them in wealthy areas (maybe next to the actual designer shops that you’re trying to avoid) you might even bag some seriously expensive designer items for a seriously small price.
Got a really specific item that you want in mind? It’s always worth checking out Depop to see if you can find what you’re looking for. It’s a great way to shop if you have you put in that extra bit of leg work (and by leg work I mean scrolling the many, many pages on the app).
Remember that you can also donate your own unwanted clothes to a good cause, rather than leaving that dress you swore you would wear more than once hanging in the wardrobe. A great way to do this is to have a one-in, one-out policy – live by the mantra that every time you buy something, you’ll donate something else in your wardrobe.
Social media influencers have been key in shaping this new trend. Check out @StoriesBehindThings on Instagram who advocate for conscious consumption and organise various clothes switches throughout the year in London.
Don’t worry if there isn’t one in your area – the best part about a clothes swap is that you can very easily host your own: in your living room, your office, an event space, or even just in a cafe. Invite friends, enemies, colleagues, or post online and open it up to strangers. The possibilities are endless.
Who knows? You might blag some vintage treasures or that top you’ve stolen too many times from your best friend.
Whenever possible, it’s best to shop in person, but we all know that buying your clothes online is the most convenient option.
With that comes delivery and packaging methods which should always be taken into consideration when you’re striving to be the eco babe you’ve always dreamt of being. If you’re buying from eco-conscious brands instead, they’ll no doubt have eco-friendly delivery practices in place, so it’s a huge thumbs up on the environmental front.
These brands are making a conscious effort to focus on producing ethical clothing by working with Fair Trade producers and sourcing recycled fabrics. That’s what we like to hear!
Use what you’ve got
When it comes to creating a sustainable collection of clothing in your wardrobe, take everything out and have a moment of reflection. What is it actually bringing to the planet-saving party here?
It’s become cliche, but try the Marie Kondo method and ask if each item brings you joy. If it doesn’t, or you simply haven’t even worn the item in quite a while, add it to your charity shop pile. Do this regularly and I’m sure you’ll be surprised with how many items you’ve been neglecting.
Remember “make do and mend”? Try “repair before you replace”. Small rips, holes and missing buttons can easily be fixed, and best of all, it’ll extend the life of your clothes significantly.
Question your shopping habits
Make sure you’re always asking yourself if you really need a new item of clothing in your wardrobe before you buy it. Try to own items that you know you’ll wear again and again, so everything you own you love wearing and feel confident in. If you know it’s good for one event only, it’s probably not worth it.
It is however worth investing in pieces you really love and are made from high-quality materials that will stand the test of time; pieces that you’ll genuinely want to keep forever.
Probably the hardest part is to try your best not to immediately resort to the high street. I know how convenient is, believe me, but we all have to make an effort to shop consciously. When you’re staring at that plaid shirt that’s extremely similar to the five others you own, ask yourself – what fabric is it made of? How much water did it take to make this? Try to be more conscious of the money you put into this harmful fast fashion mindset that needs to slow down.
And whether you’re shopping on the high street, or heading down to the charity shop, remember to always carry a tote bag so you don’t end up buying plastic carrier bags. It’s an easy way to save the planet a lot of bother, and save yourself many 5p coins.
This article first appeared in the May 2020 issue of DIVA – grab your digital copy right here!