The goal of having a totally ethical, sustainable wardrobe may seem like a lofty ideal, but what is life without a challenge? As the fashion industry wakes up to its responsibilities, it’s time to look a little closer to home and make some simple changes that can make a real difference in the long run. Here are our tips on turning your closet into a shining example of sustainability.

1 Do your research
Take a closer look at your favourite brands. Are they doing their bit? Many retailers now have a ‘sustainability’ section on their websites so check it out and be sure to shop the most ethical and eco-friendly you can find. Look for brands that are transparent about their labour policies and pay fair living wages to their employees. Vegan brands such as those featured by The Vegan Company tend to be ahead of the game on this score – you’ll generally find they’ve done the research for you so they are a safe bet.

2 Choose materials wisely
Fabric choice is a big part of the game plan. If you’re concerned about the environmental effects of fabric production (of course you are!), you will know that one big offender is leather, for its associated methane output, appalling treatment of livestock, and the toxic chemicals used in tanneries. But did you know cotton is in the sin bin too, for its intensive water consumption? (Look out for sustainable cotton labels.) Plastic-based fibres such as polyester and nylon are also bad news for the planet. So what should we be shopping for? Recycled materials are an obvious place to start, as they use disposed-of materials to be used to produce new garments.

New fibres to look out for include cellulose (plant-based) fibres such as lyocell (brand name Tencel) which is as soft as cotton but made from sustainably grown eucalypt trees; and Pinatex, which is a by-product of the pineapple industry. Another great option: bast fibres come from plants with a stem consisting of a woody core and fibrous bark, such as hemp, flax, nettle, jute and rame. They have a small footprint compared to other natural fibres because of their low water consumption and hardiness against pests.

3 Find a seamstress
Perhaps you are a whizz with a sewing machine. If not, find someone who is. If you have something you love that needs attention, you can have it mended, altered or repurposed to prolong its life. Heels worn down? Bag strap wearing thin? Get thee to a cobbler. Chances are you’ll be supporting a small local business to boot.

4 Recycle, reuse
Call it thrift, call it vintage, the simple fact is that if you buy something pre-owned you are saving it from landfill and likely saving yourself a chunk of money at the same time. If rooting thought the racks of an op shop isn’t for you, check out your nearest vintage fashion markets, or get together with a group of friends and pool your cast-offs over a glass of wine.

5 Don’t buy as much
It’s a simple rule and it’s one that’s been around since fashion began: choose quality over quantity. Don’t buy on impulse – instead work out what will go with your new item before you purchase. Be mindful of the 30-wear rule. If you don’t think you’ll wear it that often, think again.

Build a wardrobe of classic staples that will last for years.

Main image Photo by Artem Beliaikin from Pexels.

About the Author

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Sara is a journalist by trade and spent many happy years editing magazines until people stopped buying them and she was forced to transfer her talents to a brave new digital world. Sara lives in the inner city with two small kids, a dog and a cat, and tries her darndest to live an ethical life.

Sara’s background as a journalist and editor includes lengthy stints on titles such as inside out, donna hay magazine and the Sunday Telegraph (no judgement!). She has freelanced for a plethora of brands including Body + Soul, Marie Claire, GQ and Qantas Insider. She has also worked client side in property, retail, fashion, beauty and food.

Our writers independently select all products featured on The Vegan Company. We only recommend products and services we love – and think you’ll love too. Just letting you know that when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.