In 2022, it’s understandable that climate change is at the forefront of all our minds. It can be tricky because we know that personal responsibility isn’t the actual solution we all need. Honestly, how much difference will using a metal straw make if oil companies are planning new oil and gas fields in the North Sea? Probably not much. But a small change is better than no change and we shouldn’t be disheartened. A new year is always a good time to think about what changes you can make, for yourself rather than anyone or anything else. Because change starts with us, actual real people in communities, not with the big boys on the board at BP.
If your new year’s resolution was to be more environmentally friendly, we’ve got some fashion related tips to consider. Hopefully some of them can help us all make a dent in the environmental impact of our wardrobes.
No More Fashion FOMO
You know that impulsive feeling when your favourite brand pops up in your inbox with an email about a sale, or when you’re walking by something nice in a window display. It can be hard to resist that fear of missing out on something, Capitalism loves it when we buy things on impulse and fast fashion companies dedicate entire departments to converting FOMO into sales. There’s no need to feel guilty when you get the itching desire to buy something for the sake of it. Clothes can make us feel better, more powerful or confident. But to overcome fashion FOMO, it might be worth considering small practical things. Like how will this item fit into the wardrobe you already have? Do you really really love it? Can you see yourself wearing it for a long time in many different ways? These questions will help you make smarter purchases and avoid impulse purchases that you fall out of love with. Read our 2020 guide to Resisting Fashion FOMO by Melissa Watt for more info.
The phrase capsule wardrobe is so overused, it’s easy to lose track of what it actually means. See also: basics and wardrobe staples. But what we can take from those buzzwords is: we should prioritise high quality, durable, timeless garments that will stand the test of time. That doesn’t necessarily mean paying extortionate amounts for one single premium item; that’s not practical or feasible advice for everyone. It just means being thoughtful and buying with quality and longevity in mind. It can also mean being picky and making sure you absolutely love the items you do buy. If you can see yourself wearing an item in loads of different ways, it can be really worth investing in a good quality item that will last in your wardrobe for years and years to come.
Shopping locally is a great way to reduce carbon emissions and support your local economy. Your items aren’t being transported from one country to another to get to you, via air or ocean. If the clothes are all round locally made, then the materials and fabrics are sourced in the area as well. It’s a good idea to still check the ethical credentials; locally made clothes also typically have smaller supply chains, which makes it easier to investigate. If a brand is committed to ethical business practices, this has a positive effect on the working conditions and the wages workers are paid.
If you need to fill a gap in your wardrobe, it could be a good idea to check to see if you can get the same (or similar) secondhand before buying a new item. That could mean hitting the charity shops and vintage markets in person, or it could mean browsing for your favourite brands online. There are plenty of resale sites to check out, but we recommend Shwap, a circular fashion marketplace that we (at Birdsong) use for resale of our old collections.
Equally, it’s a good idea to reassess the clothes you do have, and let go of the pieces you no longer wear. If they’re still in good condition, it’s a good idea to find them a new loving home. You can sell them on online resale sites like Shwap, Depop or Vinted, or donate them to a local charity shop. Decluttering will make space for you to see your wardrobe more clearly, and make the process of putting outfits together so much easier.
If you’ve got little holes or rips in your favourite item, it can still be saved! You can patch up your jeans with stitch on patches, and darn moth holes in jumpers with thread in a contrasting colour. You can do it yourself with the assistance of a youtube tutorial, or find a repair scheme that will do it for you. (A handy time to mention that at Birdsong, we’re looking to pilot a repairs and alterations scheme, so stay tuned for good news). Have a look at Visible Mends for some creative inspiration. The possibilities are endless, and the end result will mean your clothes are more individual and unique. You’ll still be able to wear the clothes you love and hopefully save yourself having to repurchase something to replace them.
Wear What You Have
It might sound trite but, the most sustainable fashion choice you can make is to wear what you already have. This is a lot easier if you’ve been taking the tips listed above, but it doesn’t have to be a big operation with a dramatic build up. It could mean finding DIY solutions to revamp older items, updating older styles into something more wearable and versatile. Reorganising your wardrobe so everything is easier to access can also help; you might rediscover items you had forgotten about, or start wearing things in new exciting combinations.
Any and all of these small fixes could make your wardrobe a happier, greener one. And remember that the key to new year’s resolutions is to start with small, sustainable changes that you can stick to. Eventually they turn into long-term habits - hopefully!