Your coworker shows up wearing a cool shirt on Monday, so naturally you ask him where he bought it. With a couple of taps on your computer or smartphone, you can have that same shirt waiting at home for you to wear on Friday. In this scenario, being a shirt copier isn’t the biggest offense. Research into the fast fashion industry, however, shows that our need for instant gratification with clothes takes a notable human and environmental toll.

Fortunately, with moderate willpower and a little effort, you can be kind to the planet and still have a social-media worthy closet.


Couple in dress and tuxedo

Here’s how to be sustainable and stylish:


1. Think hard about your shopping cart. When we impulse-buy cheap trendy clothes, we contribute to a wasteful system that’s harming the environment. Try shopping vintage instead.

2. Invest in durability and timeless pieces. Make all the materials and labour that went into your clothes mean something.

3. Rent for events. There’s no longer a reason to spend a fortune on an outfit that will be worn for only one night. Plus, you can wear designer styles for a fraction of the retail price.

4. Know who made your clothes. You can feel better about supporting companies with fair labour practices and a transparent sustainability mission.

Close up of woman using sewing machine


5. Show your garments some TLC. Wear what you love longer by patching holes and re-heeling shoes. It’s much more affordable than buying new, and you can show some support to your neighbourhood shoe repair.


Clothes hanging on clothesline

6. Wash less, and wash consciously. Dirty laundry = cleaner planet. And when laundry day can’t be pushed out any further, wash with cold water and hang dry. Even switching from hot to warm water can cut a load’s energy use in half.

7. Avoid buying clothes that are dry clean only. If you absolutely have to dry clean, search for an environmentally friendly cleaner.


8. Trash nothing. Your weathered items are destined for a more glamourous retirement than turning into dish rags, and a quick online search helps you find companies that will upcycle for you. For example, some major footwear companies collect run-down sneakers and use the materials to build things like running tracks and playgrounds.

Woman taking picture of jacket with phone

9. Sell your old clothes online. There are tons of apps and online communities that make it easy to clear out your closet and fill your wallet. 

10. Host clothing swaps with your friends to refresh your closet for free. Maybe your coworker is sick of that shirt anyway.



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