7 Simple ways to enjoy fashion more sustainably


By Stephanie Boey

7 Simple ways to enjoy fashion more sustainably

What does being fashionably sustainable truly mean? IMHO, you don’t have to wear purely organic cotton or completely write-off animal skins and products to be environmentally-friendly. The key to shopping more sustainably is making informed and conscious purchases. Do you know where your clothes come from and who made them? What are these garments made of? And the most important question of all—what are your intentions with your new item? Do you only plan to wear it once or is this a long-term thing?

Living in the digital age where trends come and go with the blink of an eye, it’s easy to get swept into the 21st century’s ultra fast-pace. Many sustainability experts credit addictive behaviour on social media as the destructive fuel to our society’s crave and need of wanting more. We are fed new images on the daily; new outfits, shoes and bags that we can potentially buy and own, and as scary as it sounds, it is affecting our shopping habits.

Fashion activist Laura Francois, makes a “vow” to every fashion item in her closet. She says, “I get married to every single clothing I buy”, and being huge fashion fans ourselves, we can completely relate. And similar to standing at the altar and making a huge commitment to a long-term relationship, she says, “If I can’t [commit] to that garment, it’s not a sustainable choice”. 

It’s important to note the resources it takes into making these garments. WWF reports that it takes up to 715 gallons of water to farm, harvest and produce the cotton needed for a single t-shirt. To put things in perspective, that’s almost three years worth of drinking water. What about a pair of jeans? A whopping 1,800 gallons! And that’s not even including the environmental effects ie. air, water and land pollution. It’d be a shame if all those resources went to a garment only to be worn just once and then thrown away in the landfill.

Many fashion brands have embarked on this change. Countless environmental-friendly collections have been released, promising sustainable materials that are ethically sourced and all individuals in the supply chain are paid fair living wages. It’s a good start, but what can we do as consumers? Coordinator of Fashion Revolution Malaysia, Sasibai Kimis notes thatwe as consumers have the power to pressure brands and ask them questions. We have to use our influence and ability to ask brands to be more transparent.”

Below 7 easy steps to get you started on enjoying fashion more sustainably: 

1) Check the labels

Know what materials your clothes are made of and where they are made. Seek out natural materials and avoid synthetics if you can. Synthetics take longer to decompose and clog up landfills.

2) Shop local

Give our Malaysian labels some love. They tend to operate on smaller scales and have a lower carbon footprint. Added bonus: You’ll be supporting our local economy!

3) Save up and spend

When it comes to shoes and bags, by all means splurge on the quality stuff. With good ‘ol TLC, your investment will last for years and pay off in the long run.

4) Hunt for vintage

Shopping second-hand may not be ideal for some but you’ll be surprised to find quality designer goods for a fraction of the price. Also, you’ll know that your piece is unique.

5) Have a clothing swap

An excuse to meet up with your best mates, get rid of your unwanted clothes and gain some in the process, all without spending a single cent. (Optional: A bottle of wine.)

6) Only buy what you love

We can’t stress this enough. Ask yourself: are you buying this garment because it’s “trending”? And do you see yourself wearing it for years on end? If the answer if yes, by all means, go ahead.

7) Upcycle your clothes

It is reported that extending the life of a single garment by nine months reduces carbon, water and waste footprints by 20 to 30 per cent. Has your favourite pair of jeans seen better days? Time to take a pair of scissors and convert them into a brand new pair of denim shorts!

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