By Juhi Bansal

First Published in Global Spa Online  

The clothing industry is one of the largest contributors to global warming. Every year the fashion industry uses 93 billion cubic meters of water — enough to meet the consumption needs of five million people.

The fashion industry is responsible for 10 % of annual global carbon emissions. (Source World Bank).

Because the term “sustainable fashion” is thrown around very casually these days, most people assume that it means buying from “sustainable brands” as compared to fast fashion labels. It is over-simplifying the problem to say the least. While you can begin there, if your consumption doesn’t reduce, you are not doing the environment any favours. So, rather than making the switch without taking other parameters into account, you can follow some of the ideas below to lead a more sustainable lifestyle fashionably.

 Whether you buy from sustainable brands or regular labels, buy what you absolutely need.

I realized the enormity of my wardrobe about a decade ago. I worked as a banker and buying high street and designer labels was my flex. I bought mindlessly and indiscreetly. However, better sense prevailed soon and I started reducing my shopping every year slowly to now when I barely buy 3 items of clothing in the entire year. Do I stick to buying from “sustainable” brands? Not necessarily, since my buying is largely need based, I buy from wherever I can find my pieces. Also, let’s face it, sustainable brands don’t work for every pocket.

  • Leave things in your cart for 24 hours

Works like a charm for me every time. Especially when social media throws aesthetically shot ads at you every minute. There is no way you don’t get tempted. I do too. And, I convince myself I “need” the piece. But, to make sure it’s not impulse, I leave it in my cart for 24 hours. I have NEVER gone back to the cart after 24 hours to buy that piece. NEVER.

Statement vs versatile pieces (all season)

When you buy statement pieces you seldom get enough wears out of them. Always better to stick to versatile and all season clothing as against season specific clothing or pieces you can only wear once because everyone would remember seeing you wear it.

Avoid posting OOTD on social media

Double standards much! I am a blogger and an instagrammer and even I don’t post all my OOTDs (Outfit of the Day). Why? Because that makes rewearing the outfit less likely even in a different circle.

Don’t do occasion based shopping

We tend to buy for holidays and weddings and birthdays. Try to move away from that to a 30 wear rule. Don’t buy anything you don’t see yourself wearing atleast 30 times in the next couple of years.

Buy vintage, rent, and borrow

Whatever happened to good ol’ days when we would exchange with friends and siblings? I could never have enough of hand-me-downs from my older cousins. Do it for yourself and your kids rather than buying brand new every single time.

Restyle, re-wear, upcycle

Not everything needs to become bags and blankets but we underestimate the multiple uses of any piece of clothing. There are enough and more videos on social media on the various ways you can restyle your clothing so I will not go into that. However, layering, pairing and accessorizing your outfits can completely change the way you dress up thus doing away with the need for buying more.

Donate (and at the right time)

Don’t wait for your clothing to lose its style and shape completely before you donate it. If you donate a piece of functional clothing that is still in good shape, you are helping the other person buy less and thus adding to your sustainability score.

Take better care of your clothing

Wash them less. I know as Indians we place a lot of importance in “clean” clothing. All clothes need to be washed after one wear. But, is that really true? I wear every piece of clothing twice before it goes for washing and even then I sometimes prefer rinsing in plain water as against a detergent. You would be surprised to see how durable your clothing suddenly begins. Get more wears/ usage out of things like your nighties, towels and jeans before they land in the laundry hamper. Always wash a full load of laundry.

Catalogue your clothing or closet them in a way you have a view of everything. This has been a game changer for me. So many times in the past I would feel I have nothing to wear to office or for a party because my wardrobe only had pieces I wore everyday. The other items would get relegated to the back over time. However, once you have a better view of your entire collection, you can circulate your wardrobe and get more wears out of every piece.

Find better pastimes and hobbies

Most of the time shopping eating happen as a result of boredom and not because we need to. If your favourite pastime is scrolling shopping sites and adding things to your cart: find a better hobby. If you’re a compulsive scroller like me: wait 24 hours!

Jacket and boots borrowed from sister

dress more than a decade old and worn and reworn with much love several times

skirt bought from a vintage store in Zurich

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