5 Common Struggles with Sustainable Fashion

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Understanding that fast fashion is not sustainable is easy. Knowing how and where to find better alternatives is slightly harder. Even when you start looking into the subject there are a few common problems that might arise.

Style

Are oversized hemp pants and batik tunics the picture that comes to mind when you think of sustainable fashion? Sure, there are loads of that out there but today there are alternatives available that offer a wider range of styles.

Finding sustainable clothes that fit your personal style can be hard. You’ve probably spent years cultivating your style and finding stores that correspond to this. You probably know where to go if you want a good white tee and where to go for a party dress. So when you start looking for sustainable options you might find yourself back at zero, having to go through the process of finding your sustainable favorites.

So how can you make the process of finding your sustainable style a bit easier? Firstly, find sustainable influencers whose style you like. They will surely be sharing their favorite brands on their channels so be there and snap it up. Additionally, you could start following your favorite brands on resale apps. It’s still possible to shop your favorite high street favorites, as long as you purchase them second hand. By shopping second hand you save clothes from going to landfills, as well as avoiding using new resources.

Size

Finding clothes that fit is hard enough, to begin with, but if you are plus size the selection of sustainable brands that cater to you will be very slim. Many sustainable brands start very small, meaning only size S-L which leaves most women out. There are however brands that are working hard on being size-inclusive, so don’t think that you have to skip sustainable fashion because of your size!

Some great resources for finding size-inclusive brands:

Marielle Elizabeth’s full list of plus size sustainable brands

The Good Trade’s list of 15 plus-size brands

Ecocult’s list of size-inclusive ethical and sustainable brands

Price

The price point is definitely higher for sustainable fashion than for fast fashion. This is because better materials cost more, and so does paying a fairer wage for workers.

The best ways to get around the price issue is to rethink how you value and spend money. From fast fashion, we have gotten the view that clothes are cheap and disposable and that it’s okay if a shirt breaks after 4 wears because it only cost us 4€. But the resources behind that shirt was way more expensive than those 4€ and we should strive to extend the life of our garments. So instead of buying five 4€ shirts that last us a total of 20 wears, we should instead invest those 20€ in one shirt that will last us 20+ times. Investing in quality rather than quantity.

Shopping second hand is also a great solution for an affordable and sustainable closet. The prices are cheaper and allow you to stretch your money further than buying new. There are no new resources being used for second-hand items and at the same time, you might be saving an item from ending up in the landfill. Pretty neat, huh?

Accessibility

If you don’t live in a bigger city, chances are there are no physical stores near you that sell sustainable fashion. Thankfully today there are loads of brands that are available for you to shop online!

One issue with shopping online is finding the right size and fit, so to avoid sizing issues, invest in measuring tape to make sure you order the right size. Also, don’t be afraid to contact the shops or brands for sizing help, they want you to find the best fit as well. There is the problem with shipping when shopping online. And while it might feel like a big issue, shipping usually has a small impact on the lifecycle of a garment.

If you don’t feel like shopping online, it’s wise to go for smaller local businesses that produce quality products that will last. Investing in smaller businesses keeps your money from the big corporations, destroying the planet with unethical practices, and benefits the local area.

Knowledge

Knowing which materials, brands or certifications are best takes time and lots of research. Even researchers seem to be unable to say what’s the best choice (except maybe less consumption of newly produced products, I think that one is pretty clear), so how is it possible for us consumers to know?

Once again, I would champion finding stores, influencers, and brands that you can trust and follow their lead. Unless you want to do all the work yourself. Just spending a little time reading up on which fabrics are most eco-friendly can make shopping feel easier. And never feel bad for making a decision based on what you thought was the best at the time. Choose progress over perfection and be kind to yourself.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

5 common struggles with sustainable fashion

Self-care that you can do at home

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Self-care can sound expensive and luxurious, and many might think of a spa or a get-away when they hear the word. But self-care is much more than treating yourself to things. It’s about taking care of yourself, your body, and your mind.

Self-care doesn’t have to be a big deal. In fact, it shouldn’t. It should be something we have integrated into our lives. For our health. For our personal sustainability. Just carving out a few minutes a day can make a big difference, so don’t feel that it isn’t for you just because you can’t consecrate an hour a day to meditate or go to the yoga studio.

If you feel like you really don’t have time to spare (I mean we all have busy lives) think about if there is anything you could prioritize differently? Maybe you could save up some time during the week by prepping your food on Sunday. Or maybe you could skip 10 minutes of Netflix or Instagram time to meditate? Just focusing on your breathing can make a huge difference, and that is something you can integrate whenever during your day. Just by taking a few deep breaths, all the way down to the belly.

So now that you’ve found some time, here are some small ideas of cheap (but still pretty luxurious) self-care you can do at home:

  • Take a warm bath or shower
  • Do yoga (I love Yoga with Adriene YouTube channel)
  • Take a nap
  • Put on a face mask
  • Paint your nails
  • Read a book
  • Turn off your electronics
  • Meditate (here I’ve shared some favorite apps for meditation)
  • Massage (either doing it yourself or having someone massage you)
  • Gratitude journal

How do you make sure to take care of yourself? 

Self-care You Can Do at Home

 

Simple plastic-free swaps at home

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It can be tempting to switch out every single plastic item in your home when you see organized Instagram pics of nice pantries and bathrooms, but my first rule of sustainability: Use what you have. Don’t spend your money and time on switching out every plastic product in your home thinking it’s the most sustainable thing, because it’s not. Buying new will always require new resources and production.

The best way of transitioning to a more plastic-free lifestyle is slowly over time. Only replace your old plastic products when they are no longer fit for use or when you have found a way to mindfully dispose of it (I’m not talking recycling here, but rather gifting it to someone who loves plastic Tupperware and has no problem using it…).

Therefore, the simplest swaps are going to be those kinds of products that you need to switch every few months or so:

Dish brush

Instead of buying another plastic one, next time you need a new one, opt for a plastic-free version. I really like this kind that has detachable heads you can switch out.

Sponge

Instead of a regular sponge to wash dishes or clean around the house, you can upgrade to a loofa. There are also other alternatives made from coconut, cotton and similar fibers.

Glass containers

Switching out all your plastic containers for glass ones might seem like something of a must when you scroll through Pinterest, but there is no need for that. Just start by saving the glass jars you buy jam and stuff in. Wash them and peel off the labels and soon enough you’ll have a great selection of glass containers without having to pay anything extra for it!

Solid bars

Solid hand soap and dish soap are easy swaps. The only thing it requires is a good soap dish (I just have a thin slice of loofa) so that it dries off in between use and doesn’t go bad. Today you can find solid bars for almost anything so if you want to go full out you could also go for laundry bars, shampoo bars, and conditioner bars.

Do you have any favorite simple swaps for a more plastic-free home?

How to minimize your waste when you don’t have the time or money to go zero waste

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Let’s be honest, it takes quite a lot of time to live a zero-waste lifestyle or even just a plastic-free one. If you don’t have the privilege of living a life that allows you that time or you simply live in a small area without the option of shopping at a bulk store it can feel discouraging to see perfect zero-wasters line up their glass jars online.

But… you don’t need to be perfect or have access to a package-free bulk store to make positive changes. There are several small things you can still do in your life to minimize the packaging you use.

Buy only what you need

And nothing more than that. About one-third of food is wasted globally and this is contributing to climate change as food waste that in many countries end up in landfill which emits methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas (just like carbon dioxide) which contributes to warming the planet.

Outdoor markets

Such as farmers markets. Many cities have these daily or weekly during certain seasons or all year round. They often display produce out in the open so if you bring your own produce bags they will most often let you use them. One thing I’ve noticed on my local market is that later in the day when the vendors are about to close they will sell the produce cheaper as to get rid of it.

Bring own bags

This was quickly mentioned above, but just bringing your own bags for produce and for shopping will save loads of plastic bags that are both unnecessary and risk ending up in nature and in our oceans. Also, you don’t have to buy expensive macramé produce bags, just by bringing an old plastic bag you have at home will save the planet from more plastic!

Buy big packs

This might seem contradictory of number one, but it’s not necessarily. For pantry staples or hygiene products you use a lot and you know will keep for long it can be wise to invest in the biggest packaging. When you buy a big pack you will save a bit of packaging compared to having to buy three small packages. It will also generally save you money. Before you buy a big pack, just be sure you can eat them on time and store them safe from pest animals. Food waste is generally a worse problem than packaging…

Invest in some reusables

By investing in and using reusable cloths/pads/cutlery/whatever instead of disposable ones. You can save a lot of resources AND money. The tricky part is you need to have the money to spend, to begin with. A menstrual cup and/or reusable cloth pads is one of the easiest and best saves. Feminine hygiene products are used often and cost a lot. A menstrual cup will cost you around 30€ and last you for years, saving you both money and the earth from tampons that won’t dispose of. As for glass jars and bottles, instead of buying new ones, save the jam jars and smoothie bottles you get from the grocery store and just reuse them instead!

Why should we strive for zero waste?

The reason to avoid packaging is that it requires emissions and resources both to produce and to recycle. In addition, many live in areas without proper recycling and some materials, like styrofoam and soft plastics, are not recyclable or are of such low quality that it can only be recycled very few times. Plastic is a non-renewable resource which means that sooner or later we will run out of it, so I try to minimize plastic first and foremost.

Don’t feel bad if you do not have the option of choosing the (often more expensive) package-free option. Going zero-waste, in my opinion, is something to engage in after of simultaneously as you increase your bigger impact posts like transport, food, and housing.

How to Build a Capsule

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The reasons for having a capsule closet are many, and differ from person to person. Some do it to make their lives easier and save time (less choice makes the morning routine easier), to downsize and create more space or maybe even to cultivate a more sustainable and slow closet. These are also some of the perks with a capsule closet, things like freeing up space and time.

So what is the connection between a capsule closet and sustainable fashion. Well, a capsule closet means you buy less and use more of what you already own.

So how do you get started? You need to start by thinking about a few things.

Your Life

When building a capsule one has to have one’s lifestyle in mind. There is no one size fits all when it comes to capsules. This includes the actual size of the closet.

Do you live in a colder climate or where temps change often? Maybe you need an extra sweater or two. Do you live in a rainy region, then it might be reasonable to include rain clothes.

Do you have a strict dress code at work? Or could you manage with your “regular” closet?

Your capsule needs to be built around and suited to your needs and life, so take some time to think about what situations you do find yourself in.

Your Preferences

You’re the one who will be wearing the clothes, so just like with all other purchases you have to assess what you like. Finding your personal style is one of the keys to a longlasting closet and capsule.

Don’t like pants? Then don’t build a capsule around them. Hate dresses? Then leave them out.

This also includes things like color schemes and the excluding or including of prints. What type of shoes and clothes you feel most comfortable in. Those things that you tend to grab after on days when all feels boring.

Your Closet

How many pieces of clothing do you own? Are you used to circulating between 15 pairs of shoes and you love them all? Well, then I say it’s totally fine to continue with it.

Also, do the clothes fit together? Do you have that one odd shirt that only goes with that one skirt you don’t really like and those boots that make your feet bleed? Maybe it’s not a great piece to keep. At least not a piece to include in a capsule.

No number is right or wrong, so you just have to decide for yourself what seems viable to you.

Tips & Tricks

  • The second step to your capsule closet is usually a purge. Get rid of things you have not worn in a year (or pledge to wear it), things that do not fit or that are damaged beyond repair. If there are items you are not sure of and you do not feel ready to part with, put them in a box and leave it for a few months. If you do not miss it after those months you might be ready to let them go.
  • I like to do a (2:1) ratio of tops and bottoms since I usually get more wears out of bottoms compared to tops.
  • Think about how often you are willing to do laundry. If you are fine with washing your clothes every week you could get by with a pretty small capsule. If you’re like me and you dread laundry time, then maybe it’s wise to up the number of items, especially tops, so you can stretch the laundry dates a bit more.

Inspiration?

Some great accounts to follow that post content about capsule closets and sustainable style are:

Anuschka Rees

Wonder Wardrobe

Style Bee

Un-fancy

 

Ready to get your capsule together?

Why You Should be Buying the Most Expensive you can Afford

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Most of us have probably bought some expensive item once only to realize that a higher price is not necessarily a sign of better quality. A higher price can today often be attributed to branding and marketing and thus might have very little to do with the actual quality. This, however, doesn’t mean that you should be buying cheap!

Cheap fast fashion is usually thought to be worth its price, but mostly due to the sad fact that you expect it to be of shitty quality when you pay next to nothing. It’s basically you going in with low expectations and then those expectations turn out to be true.

Even though I have already acknowledged the fact that price isn’t necessarily an indicator of quality, I do believe that we should all buy the most expensive we can afford. And here is why:

Room for Actually Paying the Makers

When a t-shirt costs 5€, there is really no room for paying the makers (unless the brand has no markup), but for a 50€ t-shirt, there is. This does not inherently mean that all 50€ t-shirts are a great buy of superior quality that is made ethically, especially if there is a fancy logo on it or in it.

So even if the price can be an indicator or that the company is paying their makers the best way to actually know if a brand is paying the makers is to do your own research.

You Will Buy Less

This one is simple math. If you buy more expensive items, you’ll have to decrease the amount to be able to purchase. So buying more expensive will force you to buy less, which in itself is a win for the planet, but it will also likely make you take more conscious shopping decisions.

It’s Less Disposable

In today’s society, fast fashion has become the new normal. Fast fashion in itself is disposable since it’s dirt cheap and it would cost you more to repair an item than to get a completely new one.

No one wants to throw away a 200€ dress after three wears because they are sick of it. This will make you consider every purchase more. It feels fine buying a dress from H&M you know you might only wear 2-3 times, but when you invest more in an item, it’s not as disposable and you will feel the need to go for something that will last longer.

You Will Likely Care Better for it

Just like no one wants to throw away something they had to save up for two months, no one wants their expensive hard earned items to break or shrink or lose color. I know myself that tend to be more careful in my handling of delicate silk shirts and cashmere, than with cheaper synthetics. Since we know that one of the most sustainable things we can do with our fashion is to wear it for as long as possible, this is a win.

Do you feel like you handle the purchase and care of a more expensive item differently from a fast fashion one?

How you can score new things without buying

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We know that overconsumption is a problem and that we need to find a more circular approach in fashion, as well as buying less in general. So to follow up my latest post about shopping bans I wanted to share some more ideas on how you can get more variety in your closet without buying anything new.

5 ways to renew your closet without consumption

Swapping

Swapping parties have become a huge thing lately, and it’s because they are a great way of both getting rid of things you don’t like anymore or wear enough, while also scoring some new finds. It’s usually free or at a small fee to attend a swap party. If there are none in your area, why not try organizing your own one? Maybe bring together some friends for a swap date or organize one in your office after work.

Borrowing

Another great option to inject a bit of variety into one’s closet without consumption is to borrow clothes. Borrow from friends, parents, siblings, a partner or whatever makes sense to you. For special occasions like weddings and parties, it’s a great idea to look around with your friends to see if anyone has formal wear you could borrow. Borrowing in your friend group can allow you to attend every party with a new dress without straining the environment or your finances. Borrowing is not only for formal though. I do it for everyday things too. Borrowing a cardigan from my mom when I feel cold, or a shirt from a boyfriend to get that perfect oversize fit.

Refashioning

This one requires a certain amount of craft skills, but don’t be put off, you don’t have to be a tailor to refashion or upcycle garments. One simple thing one can do with an item is to dye it in another color. Maybe you can update your old jeans by cropping them or adding some simple embroidery? Take the sleeves off a t-shirt to make a sleeveless top or crop it to make a crop top? If you are good with sewing the sky is the limit! Dresses can be shortened, made into a shirt, made into a top or redesigned completely into a new garment.

Renting & subscribing

Obviously, this option still costs money. However, it is a way of consuming that means less strain on the planet (sharing is caring) and it can help you avoid expensive purchases you only use once. If you have a thing for trends, subscriptions are a great way of exploring trends without having to expand your closet.

Use (all of) what you own

Most of the time we own a lot of clothes that we barely know exist. It is said that we wear 20 percent of the clothes we own for 80 percent of the time. Just by doing a dig through your piles of clothing you can find an old favorite that you forgot about. It’s like finding money in your pocket you didn’t know you put there!

Start getting creative with what you own. Try using and combining items in a way you never did before, dress up casual items, dress down fancier ones, and add an accessory to elevate a look. With just a few clothing items you can come a long way when combining wisely!