This post originally appeared on the Fashion Takes Action blog. See it here.
Whenever the subject of sustainable fashion is brought up in news items, blogs or in social media discussions, the objection of price quickly follows. Sustainable clothing brands are immediately thought of as more expensive than mainstream brands. And while this is certainly largely true when compared to fast fashion pieces, it isn’t necessarily true of an overall approach to sustainable fashion.
When considering the price of transitioning to a sustainable closet, it’s important to remember that the process doesn’t just involve changing where your clothing budget gets spent. While it’s important to vote with your dollars, it may be just as important to pick up sustainable habits that don’t involve money (and so save some in the process).
If you’re looking for budget conscious ways to add ethics to your aesthetics, try these:
Refrain from Buying
The first way to be conscious about fashion’s global impact is the simplest and cheapest. And that just simple to not buy what you don’t need. Before heading out to a mall or outlet to splurge on the latest trend, take a moment to check in with yourself: do you really need new clothes? And since need can have different meanings to different people, there are other ways to ask yourself if an impulse blouse is really worth it. Is this honestly something that you’ll wear at least 30 times? Does it match with enough pieces in your existing wardrobe to make it worth the purchase? Was it made to last or will you have to toss it a couple months from now? All these questions put the focus on quality over quantity, and will save you money in the long run.
Another excellent way to shop sustainably is to hit up fashion resale shops and apps. Thrift shops are the cheapest option, with pieces being less expensive than even your fave fast fashion chain. However, if you’re looking for mid-range or designer pieces, vintage, consignment or trendy resale shops fit the bill. You’ll spend less on any of these pieces than if they were new, and you’ll be helping to divert textiles from the landfill in the process.
Mend, Tailor or Upcycle
On average, we wear only 20% of what’s in our closets already. And so rather than purchasing something newly made that’s trending, why not shop your closet to unearth hidden gems? If there’s a tried and true piece that no longer fits just right or has a broken zipper, take to a local tailor. You can also ask them to mend small flaws, or save even more money by trying your hand at button replacement. Or if you know a local seamstress or design student, ask them to upcycle older pieces into something that’s more on trend.(and bonus points for supporting your local economy) Denim is prime for this strategy, as jean trends are ever changing but new denim is extremely resource heavy to produce.
Wash your Clothes Less
With some pieces, washing them every time they’re worn is not the best idea. Certain clothes are barely dirty between washes, and toss them in the machine just wears them out faster. Think denim, dresses, and any outfits that you barely worn for a few hours out at dinner. And when you do wash clothes, try to use the coolest and gentlest cycles you can. And then line dry rather than drying in the heat and agitation of a dryer. This will help your faves last longer and your water and power bills will thank you.
These are just a handful of tips that can ease your clothing budget as well as fashion’s impact on the environment. Do you have any of your own tips of how to go ethical within a budget? Share them in the comments!