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Fashion has been touted as the second most polluting industry in the world, and that’s not hard to believe considering it takes over 650 gallons of water to produce just one t-shirt. With luxury brands like Stella McCartney leading the charge for a cleaner industry, and proving that conscious consumerism is no longer just for the crunchy granola set, everyone, even fast fashion, is getting involved.

Joining the movement can often feel like a daunting and expensive undertaking to newbies. After doing your first bit of research you probably learned our closets are packed with unsustainable plastic fibers, toxic dyes, and in many cases slave labor. 

How do we start greenifying our lives without breaking the bank?

Overhauling your closets, and buying a new wardrobe that is made the right way, ie organic, fair trade, gives back to local communities, etc, can max out your cards, and truth be told become quite wasteful. Thankfully for our wallets, the secret to becoming a sustainable fashion warrior are small everyday changes that add up to make huge impacts and are totally free. Here are 6 of our favorite ways to go green while saving green.

Looking to refresh your wardrobe? Try a clothing swap.

Clothing swaps are exciting because you never know what you are going to come away with. Everyone brings a few items and then swaps with one another. A clothing swap is a triple threat, you get to clean out your closet, your clothing gets a second life instead of ending up in the landfill, and you get to leave with new clothing to refresh your wardrobe.

You can organize a swap with friends or try joining a group to meet new people in your local sustainable community.

Repair instead of toss

Hipsters in Brooklyn are all about Sashiko are onto something. Sashiko is the ancient Japanese art of mending textiles characterized by patches and bold embroidery stitchwork. Part of the beauty of Sashiko is in the flaws. Next time instead of tossing something that has ripped or lost a button try to fix it yourself.

If you skipped home economics in high school, and have no idea to how to even thread a needle, don’t worry. There are great easy to follow tutorials online for just about any fashion need.


Take your old clothes and make something new. Turn old jeans into cut-off shorts, or a shirt into a reusable bag.

Embellishments like patches, sewn on pearls, and embroidery are trending hard on Pinterest. Lucky for us, all we need are old clothes that need a refresh, a few supplies from the craft closet, and a DIY attitude, and some youtube tutorials. 

avoid the drying machine when possible, and wash in cool water

If you did laundry every other day for a year, you would release as much CO2e as taking a flight from London to Glasgow, including taxi rides to and from the airports! That’s a lot! By line drying your clothing, you can reduce your impact by up to 70%

90% of the energy used while washing clothes in a machine comes from heating the water. Only 10% is actually used to physically run the machine. So was in cool water! As an added bonus cool water helps your clothes last longer by keeping colors bright, and clothes from shrinking.

dry cleaning is a racket

Did you know that a lot of dry clean only clothes don’t actually need to be dry cleaned? There is a well-kept industry loophole that has you dry cleaning when you don’t need to be. Clothes need to be tested to ensure the correct laundering instructions are advertised on labels. This can be expensive, especially for small brands. To get out of testing, dry clean only is used, this is why you sometimes find cotton t-shirts and jeans with dry clean only labels. Putting them in the wash will not ruin them, and you will cut down on your laundry bill and the negative environmental impacts of dry cleaning. For delicates try hand washing.

return wire hangers and say no to plastic

Speaking of dry cleaners. If you must get your clothes dry cleaned, return those metal hangers. They are not recyclable, and can totally be reused again and again. If you live in an urban city and have a laundry service use a reusable laundry bag and remind the laundromat not to pack your clothes in plastic.

Have to buy something new?

Try the 30 wears challenge. The 30 wears challenge made popular by Liva Firth of the documentary The True Cost, urges you to ask the question will I wear this at least 30 times when buying new clothes. You don’t have to change anything about where and how you are shopping, you just need to commit to wearing the piece at least 30 times. Tips for the 30 wears challenge include looking for clothes that you can wear in a variety of ways, making sure it fits perfectly so you actually want to wear it, and buying high-quality clothes that will last 30 wears and not fall apart in the laundry.


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