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A More Eco-Friendly Wardrobe on a Budget

Updated: Feb 2, 2021

As many of us are now learning, the fashion industry is a huge polluter, producing millions of tons of waste per year. One of the biggest contributors to this issue is fast fashion, cheap clothes that are made in large quantities and aren't designed to last more than a season. And if you're anything like me, you love fashion and having cute clothes. So here are a few ways that I keep my wardrobe more eco-friendly, while also saving more money than when I used to shop at fast fashion stores every week.


One of the easiest ways to cut back on fashion waste is my simply buying second hand clothing. There are always thrift stores like Goodwill and The Salvation Army, or stores like Buffalo Exchange that sell more high-end clothes. Another way I love buying pre-loved clothing items is through websites and apps, like Poshmark or even Facebook Marketplace. This way, even if the clothes weren't originally produced in the most eco-friendly fashion, you at least aren't contributing further to the wasteful production of new items.


Instead of buying a pair of leggings from Forever 21 or H&M that are going to look too worn out to wear anymore within a few months, why not invest in a pair make of eco-friendly materials from a small brand? While shopping this way may cost more upfront, you end up saving money if you can wear the item for years or maybe even sell it when it's not your style or doesn't fit you anymore. Smaller designers produce less pieces at one time, meaning they aren't creating as much textile or production waste as brands that produce mass quantities of cheap clothing. Plus if you shop for handmade pieces, you can often get them tailored to your exact measurements, meaning a much more flattering fit. Plus instead of making some rich CEO even richer, you're helping to make someone's dream come true.


Clothing from sustainable brands and small designers can be expensive, I get it. So if you can't afford to shop from small brands, at least try to purchase high-quality items always. You can do this by going to higher end second hand stores. And if I do need something that I'd prefer to buy new, such as office attire, swimsuits or undergarments, I like shopping at stores such as Marshalls or TJMaxx. Stores like this often buy items from designers that have minor damages and would otherwise go to landfill. This means you can get new and high quality items at a much lower price point than you normally would if you bought directly from the brand. Higher quality items will last longer and often fit better, once again meaning that you'll have them for years and can possibly resell them.


Often when I have clothing pieces that no longer fit me or my style, I can think of a family member or friend who would probably love the item. This is where swapping clothing items comes into play. Doing this means that you can get new-to-you items for free! Sometimes I'll keep a bag of "giveaway clothes" for a few months, and let my friends look through it and pick out what they like when they come over. And some of my friends do the same. You could also try organizing a clothing swap, where you get a group of friends together and all trade clothing. Anything that is left over after a while or that I don't think anyone I know will want, I always donate instead of throwing away.


Upcycling clothing items is a fun way to create something new out of something you would've just gotten rid of. One of the most common examples of this is cutting an old pair of jeans into shorts, which I do all the time. Doing this means you don't have to buy any new clothing pieces, and now you have something that is totally unique. Look up tutorials on YouTube if you need ideas and don't be afraid to experiment, especially if it's on a piece you were planning to donate or throw out anyway.

While doing all these things won't exactly cut out your contribution to fashion waste completely, they will certainly help! And every little bit you do counts to creating a cleaner and healthier planet for everyone. Let's do better for the earth, stay fashionable and save money!

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