Posts Tagged ‘clothing’

posted by | on , , , , , | Comments Off on Five Steps to Make Your Wardrobe More Sustainable

By Hana G.

Fashion has a major impact on the environment. Each year, the United States, alone, sends about 21 billion pounds of textile waste to landfills. Most clothing is made of materials and chemicals derived from fossil fuel-based crude oil. This means that it’s nearly impossible for clothing to decompose. If burned, the materials that make up clothing release harmful chemicals into the atmosphere. When clothes are buried with other waste in landfills, moisture and heat can cause them to emit greenhouse gases such as methane. And, there’s also the environmental impact of items such as buttons, zippers, and studs to consider. There are ways that you can combat fashion’s impact on the environment by doing your part to make your wardrobe more sustainable.

Consider the five steps below as your guide to a more sustainable way of style:

  1. Educate yourself

 First and foremost, taking the time to educate yourself is a fool-proof way to discover sustainable style options. Do your part to research brands that offer eco-friendly apparel as well as companies that strive to minimize the waste they generate from their products. Take note of which fashion lines use only organic, vegan fabric options.

There are also several companies that make it a point to produce smaller amounts of clothing each season to avoid the harmful repercussions of fast fashion. The next time you’re shopping in-store and looking for more information on eco-friendly policies, ask an employee about their stance on sustainability. In addition, most fashion retailers who value sustainability have a section on their website.

  1. Buy for longevity

A great way to get more wear out of your clothes, thus increasing their sustainability, is by buying for longevity. While you might be tempted to browse the sale racks and find five-dollar sweaters for this season, if the prices are too good to be true, there’s usually a reason. In most cases, a lower price point also means lower quality.

Instead of spending money on items you’ll only be able to wear a few times, try increasing the longevity of your wardrobe by spending a bit more on pieces you can wear in years to come. If you keep in mind the closet life of your clothing purchases, you’ll have fewer items that end up in landfills – and you’ll establish staple pieces of your style to keep around for a while.

  1. Buy secondhand

Shopping secondhand is a great way to shop sustainably. Purchasing pre-owned items from thrift stores is the perfect way to shop for what you need and put our planet first. Whether you’re looking for vintage decor for your new apartment or you’re hoping to spice up your style with some eclectic clothing, most local thrift stores have what you need if you’re willing to look for it.

There are also online thrifting options – such as thredUP – that allow you to browse used, name brands from the comfort of your own home. If your taste tends to be on the fancier side, you can find your favorite name brands like Coach for less by looking online instead of in-store.

  1. Restyle your wardrobe

Developing a sustainable wardrobe doesn’t mean you need to go out and purchase all new clothes. Try optimizing your current clothing options by restyling what you already have. Spend a day clearing out every item in your closet, and have some fun putting together new looks you’ve never tried before.

The more use you can get out of what you already have, the more sustainable your wardrobe will be. Whether you decide to turn some of your T-shirts into trendier crop tops, or you fashion some rips into an older pair of jeans, try some DIY to keep your old clothes up to date. This will allow you to get as much use as possible out of all of your current clothes.

  1. Buy from local vendors

You know those cute boutiques you always pass by but never take the time to browse? It might be time to start shopping locally. Most local vendors source their materials within 60 miles, which minimizes the amount of gas used to transport their products – and their carbon footprint.

Buying from local vendors is also a great opportunity to take the time to find out if they value sustainability. While you might be spending a little more than you’re used to on your style, you’ll also be investing in a great cause by buying local.

Hana G. is a creative content creator who values both style and sustainability.

 

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By Reshmi Mehta, Revel In It founder

We all know that the fashion industry is pretty harmful to a lot of people and the planet. Yet somehow, there are little to no readily available avenues to enable us to change our buying and producing behaviors. So, here’s my starter guide to mindfully interact with clothing in Washington, D.C.

Clothes you have

Learning to love what you have is step #1. We all have our own way of getting better at this step. If you have thoughts to share, write them in the comments! Learning to care for what you love is a way to level up.

Caring for your clothes means doing what you can to prolong the life of your clothes. Like washing them only when you absolutely need to, and learning the way they should be cleaned. Understand what those symbols on the care labels of your clothes actually mean here! There’s actually a lot on the internet about keeping your beloved items wearable. Check out some useful articles here, here here, here and here.

But, this list is about accessible resources to us in D.C. So, when you run into tears in your clothing, or find yourself in need of a hem, mending is the way to go! There are some fun and quick ways to mend your clothes in our city. FabLab is a D.C. public library initiative that hosts free mending and sewing 101 workshops in libraries around D.C. Soon it will have a permanent physical space with instructors and sewing machines and more! This will be free and accessible to anyone with a library account. The space is set to open later this year.

Fellow community members take action by hosting their own mending workshops around D.C., like the folks who teach classes through their Sew Queer series. Their workshops are sometimes free and sometimes cost $. Do you know of any other free or low cost mending workshops in D.C.? Share your knowledge in the comments.

Then, there are more in-depth workshops for those who want to invest in yourself a bit more and build-up your skills in mending and sewing from scratch. The Stitch Sew Shop in Alexandria is a beautiful space that holds sewing patterns to purchase, and has an impressive array of classes and workshops, but be ready to spend some $$. Another pricey-but-worth-the-skills workshop is the occasional embroidery and sewing 101 workshops hosted by The Lemon Collective up in Petworth. I bet there are more workshops like these in D.C., and the broader DMV, so feel free to leave information on those in the comments too.

Clothes you don’t want anymore

Knowing that you don’t like a piece of clothing is great! Learning to responsibly get rid of those items is the hard part. One way you can get rid of them, and find something new to you, is to swap! I host seasonal clothing swaps through my community organization called Revel In It. I look for different venues around the city to host in, and I make them free and open to all, like really free – no money or clothing are required to participate. The next one will be at the West End Library on Saturday March 23rd, from 1-4 pm.

Other swaps have been known to take place at Potter’s House and different venues around D.C., as well as through the organization Swap DC. Their swaps require a low up-front cost to participate.

You can also donate your unwanted clothes to organizations that are serving our community. Great examples include Martha’s Table, Dress for Success and Casa Ruby. Each organization has its own needs in terms of types of clothes, so check-out their sites for more information.

Finding new clothes

The best way to shop ethically and sustainably is to thrift. D.C. has some great options, like the Mt. Pleasant boutique Rosalia’s, which has a decent selection, specifically for work wear, winter coats and menswear. Bonus: there is a fabulous seamstress in house! I also swear by Second Story Boutique on Georgia Avenue, which is actually a consignment shop as well, and holds a constant rotation of eclectic feminine wear. Tell me your go to thrift shops in the comments.

As for buying brand new in D.C., the options are slim. There’s some homegrown brands like Mimi Miller that design and produce their garments in the District, as well as some other brands that are showcased at the Steadfast Supply shop. The great thing about locally made items is that you can find the makers’ information and ask more questions about their production processes. Another exciting local venture is Lady Farmer, a brand run by a mother daughter duo who are experimenting with a farm-to-closet business with their farm just outside D.C.

But let’s be real, a lot of us shop online from businesses that are not local, and definitely not ethical in their practices. To help sift through all the noise, I created a Facebook group for my D.C. community, and beyond, to share our ethical and sustainable finds and to learn to mindfully interact with our clothes together. Come join the discussion!

Some more information on what “ethical” and “sustainable” clothing is, resources to help you when buying online, and more, are below.

Resources

Reshmi Mehta is an international development and social impact professional currently in DC and leads the community organization, Revel in It, a slow fashion enabler. You can find her at coffee shops around the city, searching the web for more opportunities to advocate for slow fashion and a decent espresso.

Photo Credits: fashionrevolution.org & Reshmi Mehta

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The following is a guest post by Rachel Mlinarchik of My Fair Vanity

A Guide to DC’s #1 Second-hand Style Source

The last time I visited with you, I shared a few eco-friendly options for the office. Today I’m going to sing the praises of one of our local area consignment super-stars. After all, purchasing (and selling my own) lightly-used clothing is my favorite way to:

  • Trade my rarely worn items for cash to buy clothing I will wear.
  • Build quality items into my wardrobe from labels I couldn’t normally afford, thereby avoiding disposable, fast fashion that won’t last.
  • Reuse and recycle, keeping perfectly good clothing and accessories out of landfills and inside my closet—or yours!

Refinery29 has already done a thorough accounting of awesome consignment stores in the DC metro area, so I’m going to focus on what I consider to be the best of the best: Secondi.

I would estimate that more than 50% of my regularly worn clothing and accessories were purchased from Secondi. I can say this with some confidence because, looking back through a gallery of my outfit posts, it’s difficult to find an outfit that doesn’t include at least one item from my favorite local store, whether it’s a bangle, a coat, or a blouse.

Below, I’ve put together just a few examples of the ever-growing Secondi collection I have amassed over the years. Every single item I’ve listed is from Secondi:

 

As you can see, Secondi has me well-equipped for all four seasons, but I made sure to stop in yesterday evening right before closing time to scope out the latest spring treasures on offer for my favorite eco women:

Perfect for a summer wedding or a hot date, these Marc Jacobs sandals are in mint condition.

Tangerine Manolo heels and fuschia Talbots flats are perfect for spring.

A well-cut trench is a key staple for April and summer showers.

These cheery pencil skirts are from JCrew, Tory Burch, Cynthia Rowley and Leifsdottir.

What impresses me most about Secondi is the range of price points they carry and the keen editorial eye of their staff. Any one of the clutches pictured above may be priced at $15, but those who are looking for more of an investment piece can snap up a structured, tomato red Michael Kors bag.

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to head back in tomorrow to pick up a few things. Consider this your fair warning that the good stuff at Secondi goes fast, so if you see something that catches your eye, get thee there today!

To continue with me on my quest for personal style that is kind to the earth and the people on it, I hope you’ll visit with me now and again at My Fair Vanity, or better yet, I hope to see you in person at the DC EcoWomen conference in May. I’ve reserved my spot…have you?