Winter is coming! And while rising temperatures and warming winters suggest we won’t be needing our heavy coats as much as we used to, transferring your summer/spring wardrobe to autumn/winter is still very much a thing. But before you go out and buy heaps of new clothing, here are a few tips to make your winter wardrobe that much more sustainable.
1. Fear the Fleece
It’s no secret that the fashion industry is a major pollutant. Several textiles it mass produces have detrimental effects on the environment, so looking at the brand and where a garment is made isn’t enough to ensure the piece is eco-friendly.
Fleece is perfect for layering or wearing around the house on chilly nights, but its life cycle has serious environmental repercussions. One study found that “a single fleece jacket sheds as many as 250,000 synthetic fibers” when run through a washing machine. These fibers end up on beaches and in water supplies as invisible but detrimental pollutants. Wastewater plants can’t filter out the fibers and they are eventually ingested by marine life and enter our food chain.
Opt for cotton instead of fleece. If you feel like you have to have fleece garments in your wardrobe, make sure they’re second-hand and wash them sparingly!
2. Say No To Trends
It’s so easy to get sucked into trend cycles – and it’s even easier to not realize you want something because it’s trendy, not because you will actually wear it a lot. Think about what you want to buy this season and when you first saw it. If the style only just popped up on your Instagram feed a month ago, it usually means it’s going to fade away just as quickly, leaving you with a garment you probably won’t want to wear anymore.
This doesn’t mean it’s not okay to like on-trend things, it just means you should be careful to not exclusively gravitate towards garments that feed into the idea that clothing is trendy and temporary.
3. Avoid Plastic Puffer Jackets
Puffer jackets are warm and can look quite fashionable, but they are almost always made of 100 percent plastic that eventually ends up in our water streams. A piece published by the University of Melbourne explains that puffer jackets contribute to the vast amount of microplastics in our environment. Every time you throw them in the wash, they shed plastic particles that add to the growing amount of synthetic fibers in our rivers, oceans, lakes, and water supplies.
Companies have resorted to making puffer jackets from recycled polyester. At first glance, this seems like a great solution to a serious problem. However, using recycled materials does not minimize the number of microplastics released from the garment when it’s eventually washed.
So before you pop to the shops to grab a big puffer for the colder months, think again.
4. Donate What You’re Not Going to Wear
Part of getting ready for a new season is getting rid of what you don’t need anymore. Minimizing your wardrobe ensures you give your clothes the love they deserve and respect the amount of time, energy, and water that’s gone into making them.
The general rule of thumb is that if you didn’t wear it last year, you probably won’t wear it this year and it should be donated. However, we recognize that the pandemic has probably changed your dressing habits, so don’t follow the rule too strictly if you didn’t leave the house very much this year.
5. Stay Away From New Animal Products
Leather, wool, and fur all contribute to a massive amount of suffering. The world is full of high-quality affordable second-hand products that contain these materials, so buying them new is completely unnecessary.
There are also several fantastic ethical alternatives on the market to try, like leather made from pineapples or wool made from plants.
Every time you buy a pair of leather shoes or a garment with fur on it, you tell that industry that you think what they’re doing is okay – even if you don’t necessarily think that.
6. Have Fun!
These tips on building a more sustainable winter wardrobe may seem a little daunting, but once you understand why they are so important, it makes making better decisions easier and more enjoyable.
Have fun exploring different patterns, textures, and cuts from sustainable brands, second-hand stores, and online consignment stores. You might be surprised what you end up finding!
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