In this post, I list 25 sustainable fashion rules to live by, and why we should follow them. We don’t have to be strict about it, but I believe that if we follow these rules and practice these tips, then we are going to have an easier life, and we are going to not only improve our lifestyle but will improve the environment.
1. Wear your clothes until they are so worn you can’t wear them anymore
If you own clothes you love, wear them out, to the point where they cannot be worn. I know that some pieces in your wardrobe will not be worn out, and for those pieces, you don’t wear, you may want to give them away. But, for the pieces that you love, it is really important to wear them out. If you love the piece enough, you will wear it out. When you wear the clothing out, you feel a sense of reward because you wore it so much!
2. Donate the clothes that you don’t wear
The clothing that you wear to the point when it is very worn is one thing, but the clothes that are kept in your closet, the clothes that you don’t even wear at all, just donate them, because there will be other people that want to wear those clothes.
Donating is important, it will help other people’s wardrobes, especially, for most of the population, people with middle or low-income wages. Many people can’t always afford to buy lots of new clothing.
Photo credit: Tembela Bohle/Pexels
3. Shop where you want to, wear what you want to
I believe that you don’t only have to shop at a store that is transparent enough to show all the sustainable practices that they are practicing. We want to shop at stores where you will buy the clothes and wear them. So, some sustainable shops are very important, but if they are not producing clothing that is your style you will not wear their clothes, so, don’t shop there.
If there is a store selling a style of clothing that you like to wear but they are not showcasing sustainable practices on their website or promoting sustainability—if you read their about page and learn more about their company, they are going to be doing at least one or several sustainable, ethical, slow, zero waste practices whether or not they show it. They are most likely engaging in some form of sustainable practice, even if they are not telling everybody.
You do not have to boycott shops to practice sustainability. Even if you are shopping at a “fast fashion” shop, most of those companies are still going to exist, whether they shrink or expand in the future. But if you find an item that you like at a fast fashion shop, buy it, because you are promoting the good things and good pieces that the company is producing, overall.
4. Burn your worn-out clothing if it’s 100% plant-based
Donated clothing is ending up rotting in the mountains of Africa. In India, they don’t have enough water to wash all the donated clothing.
In ancient traditions, they would burn the clothing. So once their clothing got torn and holey, they would make a fire outside, or in a church and burn the clothes, and this was a kind of ceremony, a ritual.
This is something we can do in the future or now. I have looked up research that has stated that burning plants and forest fires are not bad for the environment. Some say it is bad because all of this carbon monoxide is going into the air. Smoke and fire are not that bad.
Of course, you shouldn’t burn clothing that isn’t 100% plant-based. Right now, most of the clothing that we are wearing has plastic in it or synthetic dyes. So you will have to just be cautious and know what you are burning.
5. Repair your clothing
Repairing clothing is a really important part of the “sustainable rules to live by”. I have had garments where buttons were falling off. I would replace the buttons. I would go to Joanne’s Fabric Store. They have all sorts of fabrics and trims—where you could find the matching zipper, matching button, matching thread. Or you could buy a new set of buttons and replace all the buttons. They have sewing kits for a few dollars at any store, but if you can’t repair yourself, you can go to a tailor and they will fix your garment. In my opinion, repairing garments is the best way to keep your garment wearable.
6. Shop vintage and second-hand when you can
I love shopping for vintage and second-hand. It is a problem when you want to wear plant-based clothing, however. But it is a challenge to find plant-based clothing at any shop. Yet, by shopping vintage and second-hand, you are helping to break the vicious cycle of fast fashion.
When we are all shopping for vintage and secondhand, the demand for more and more and more in all the large shops and mainstream shops will decrease and their production will slow down.
7. Wear organic, low-impact dyed fabrics, plant-dye fabrics
When you wear organic, you are wearing healthy fabrics, with fewer chemicals and fertilizers that are being used on the crop. Low-impact dyes are better than plant-based dyes. If you can wear plant-based dyed fabrics, that is even better. Low-impact dyes are made with some chemicals and synthetics, but they are not as toxic as they are harsh. They have been certified by certifiers as well.
8. Wear quality and low-cost—a low-cost t-shirt can be worn for years!
People always tell others to shop for quality clothing, however, you can wear cheap clothing, and it can last for many many years. I have had tank tops and tee shirts and $20 leggings that will last me 5 years or longer.
If you can shop quality, go ahead and shop quality, but you can also shop cheap. Sometimes that simple tee shirt is what you want to wear, for one, and it doesn’t get holy, ripped, or torn for many many years. So, it is fine to shop for an item that doesn’t require a lot of technique and craft to make.
Photo credit: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels
9. Create a Zen closet or be a sustainable fashion collector
I like to tell everyone to have a minimal Zen wardrobe. However, you can be a sustainable collector too. Some collectors will always buy fashion, and they will always buy lots of fashion. If you are a sustainable collector, I recommend you still continue to purge your closet. If you have a Zen wardrobe with a minimal amount of clothes, I think that is great too.
There are different kinds of phases and processes in life, and sometimes you will have a minimal wardrobe, and other times you will be a fashion collector because you can, for one, or because you want to, and that is completely fine. I don’t think that having a lot of clothes is a problem with sustainability. I think it is good for consumers to purchase lots of clothes at times.
If you are on a spiritual journey or a spiritual path, sometimes it is nice to simplify your wardrobe and wear a smaller amount. However, when you have a larger collection, you’re helping the circulation of fashion and the fashion producers making the clothing. If you have a Zen wardrobe, you are trying to slow it down, so there is a balance.
10. Adjust your clothing if it doesn’t fit– and you want to wear it
This is similar to mending. If you have a piece of clothing and you are not wearing is because there is something wrong with it. For instance, I have a pink sweatshirt, and it chokes me, and I could go ahead and mend it, cut it, do something to make the collar expand, or you can bring it to the tailor and tell them that this collar needs to expand. A lot of times, people don’t wear the pieces in their closet, because there are little things like a tight collar in the way of wearing them.
11. Be unique with your clothes—your wardrobe is already a trend that you are making
I would like to say that we don’t always have to follow the trends, and if we think about it, every single person is creating their trend in their wardrobe, a unique trend.
We can understand the collective trends, but we can also understand that when you go out and walk into the world and you have your unique type of clothing, your unique wardrobe, you are a “walking trend”, you “are” the trend. So you don’t always have to follow the collective trends. You can just wear the clothes that you have. And most likely, the clothes that you wear are in-trend.
Your wardrobe and outfits do not stop becoming a trend. Say you have a wardrobe that you have been wearing for a year or two—the wardrobe is continuing to be a trend. It doesn’t stop within a day, month, or year. I have had many clothes that I have worn for years, but life changes, and the garment changes with life. So the old garments are continuing to be a trend.
12. Instead of using chemicals that end up in the air and ocean, use a natural hypoallergenic laundry detergent
When people use all these synthetic detergents made with harsh chemicals– when they are at their laundromat or home using laundry machines, all of those chemicals from the laundry detergents and microfibers go into the earth, they go into the waterways, and they go into the air. They are toxic.
If you are not supposed to put that laundry detergent and microfibers into the waterways and airways, you are probably not supposed to put it on your body. It has been known that there are some carcinogenic properties within some laundry detergents.
Photo credit: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels
13. Organize your wardrobe
This is good practice because you are less likely to shop for other clothes if you know what you have. When your wardrobe is all organized, you can easily find the clothes that you want to wear. There are a lot of resources and videos available on YouTube on how to organize your clothing. I would definitely check them out on YouTube or other platforms.
14. Before you buy, do a Google search of the brand
Lots of times I will find a garment and if I don’t know if it’s sustainable or not, I will Google search the brand name. I will get the vibe from the company. It is not always about whether they are listing sustainability or transparency. I will try to understand the vibe and look up their values. It is always nice if a company is transparent — and you should ask companies to be transparent on their websites. Look up the company and see if they resonate with you. That will make you want to purchase the garment or not purchase the garment.
15. Purchase only plant-based products or plant/synthetic blends and some synthetic if needed
It is nice to pick plant-based fabrics. It is OK if it is 95% cotton and 5% spandex. Oftentimes, you can get away with 60% cotton and 40% polyester. I would choose to purchase plant-based fabrics or plant-based synthetic blends over synthetic fabrics. If it is a plant/synthetic blend or 100% polyester, I recommend it be a looser garment, a second or third-layer garment, or accessories like bags or shoes.
16. Use the pendulum to find out what garments you should buy
A pendulum is a tool. It is biblically found as “thy rod and thy staff” in the bible. You can use the pendulum to pick out clothing. If you ask, “Should I buy and wear this garment?” It will spin clockwise for “yes” and counterclockwise for “no.”
Hanna Kroeger has a pendulum for sale, and I have this pendulum. I love it. The pendulum is able to decide whether or not you need a garment. I have been shopping countless times, and I have used the pendulum on many apparel items that I thought I was going to buy, but it ended up the pendulum spun counter-clockwise for no, so I didn’t buy them. It is my higher self and the Divine Great Spirit, (whatever you want to call it), telling me not to buy it.
I wish I used the pendulum on the dozens of pieces of clothing in my closet that I feel like I should get rid of, but I can’t because I think I will eventually wear them, but probably won’t. Once I buy new clothes I will donate them.
Photo credit: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels
17. Support mass fashion vs. fast fashion
Many people believe that buying clothes from Target, Zara, H&M, Forever 21, or Walmart is a bad idea. However, many of these companies are creating capsule collections within their collections, and their capsule collections contain clothing that is partially or completely sustainable. So hop into those stores, and shop their capsule collections.
Also, fast fashion will go away, but mass fashion will never go away. Mass fashion is a large fashion market that clothes the masses. There are 7 billion people on this earth. Yes, it is important to shop locally and shop small. But, if you want to, it is not a bad thing to shop for mass fashion.
18. Only buy small amounts of animal materials or be vegan
To keep the animal material fashion market sustainable, we have to keep it a niche. So, in your wardrobe, I would say no more than 20% should be made from animal materials. I would recommend 5 to 10%. Or you don’t have to wear animal materials at all.
19. Shop locally
It is very important to shop locally, and if you do, you eliminate the travel that can promote pollution from shipping your garments to you. Shopping locally also helps support your local community.
20. Plastic water bottle fashions create the vicious cycle of more plastic
A lot of people are wearing clothing made out of plastic bottles. A lot of fashion companies are producing clothing from plastic bottles. These companies are saying it is sustainable. The problem is that if you continue to produce clothing out of plastic bottles, it creates a vicious demand and cycle for more plastic bottle fashion. Plastic bottles are not just being recycled, more plastic bottles are being produced. A large part of sustainability is to stop the reproduction of plastic bottles.
21. Holistic cycles – shop when you need to
There are different holistic cycles that we can participate in. We know this intuitively. We know when we are supposed to shop or not supposed to shop. We do not have to shop in certain seasons or certain periods. We can follow our own holistic fashion cycles.
22. Only buy pieces that are flattering and comfortable to wear.
I saved a lot of money when I decided to only buy clothes that flattered my body. There is so much great fashion out there, but it is not all made for my body shape, and body type. So, I have to not buy specific clothes because they didn’t look good on me. I saved a lot of money doing this. Most fashion does not look good on me and most fashion does not feel good on me. Fashion pieces are not flattering when they don’t “feel” good on the body.
23. Lookup fashion certifications. Visit my free resources page.
Visit my free resource page and check out “The top 38 Fashion Industry Certifications” All the certifications I list in the PDF can be Google searched. When you Google search them, certain fashion brands will pop up in the search. You can see what brands are certified by these certifications. The certifications promote healthy and sustainable fashion businesses and production.
24. Wash your clothes less (water), use sprays, steamers, and incense
Instead of using so much water to wash your clothing, you can think about all the jackets in your closet that you don’t launder each week, and they are doing just fine. Spray essential oil aromatherapy sprays on the garments. You can steam the garments or burn incense over the garments.
25. Consider renting clothes
When you rent clothes, it is a great way to keep the fashion production waste down. So consider renting clothes. Typically, renting means you have a special occasion and you need to wear a formal garment, but you don’t have to keep the formal garment, because many people only want to wear a formal garment worn at a specific event only once.
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