Sustainable fashion: how to reduce the environmental cost of your clothes

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From renting clothes to ditching the dryer, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce the environmental price tag of your wardrobe.

Environment


June 1, 2022


We can all take steps to reduce the environmental impact of our clothes

Oreolife/Alamy

If your wardrobe contains clothes that you bought off the shelf at a relatively low price, you are part of the fast fashion industry. But don’t feel too guilty. Everyone needs clothes and dressing sustainably can be tricky. With a little know-how, however, there are things we can all do to look good without the cost to the environment.

The first step is to think long-term, says Kirsi Niinimäki of Aalto University in Espoo, Finland: “The short duration of wearing clothes is really bad for the environment.”

She suggests that you start by loving what you have. Go through your closet and dig up all the long-forgotten clothes you can start using again.

If you want to change up your look or need a specific item, consider using flea markets, buying second-hand clothes, or hosting clothes-swap events with friends. Apps and websites that let you rent clothes from others and get more use out of your own pre-loved items by renting them out are becoming more common. Some fashion brands also work with the creators of the apps, so you can rent clothes directly from them, with the quality control that goes with it.

Buying new clothes requires a mindset shift away from the economic allure of fast fashion. “If you’re buying something new, think of the clothes as an investment,” says Niinimäki. “Think about quality and if style is anything…

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