It’s discouraging to see my friends make these sustainable fashion mistakes. I decided to set the record straight by listing the top five sustainable fashion mistakes and how to fix them.
1. Buying A More “Sustainable Alternative” Duplicates
This is the most common out of all the other sustainable fashion mistakes. My life isn’t green enough, so I should replace all my not so green things with more green things.
The problem is that many clothes you have work just fine. There’s this thing in economics called a sunk cost. You already have three *cough* twenty *cough* purses or shoes, but you need to buy just one more because it’s green. Stop right there.
A lot of things you have work just as fine. Focus more on what you have and practice minimalism in your wardrobe. Stick to a style plan, and repurpose or give away all the things you aren’t going to use.
2. Covering Up Your Sustainable Fashion Mistakes by Purchasing More Unsustainable Clothing
This is slightly different than other sustainable fashion mistakes. This time, you aren’t quenching your guilt for the environment by purchasing more sustainable alternatives to clothes you already have. Instead, you are so full of guilt that you break down and spend $500 at Zara for a bunch of “cute” clothes you don’t need.
Guilt is a fickle emotion. Sometimes, when we have too much of it, we develop this belief that we simply aren’t good enough and we never will be good enough. I like to call this the F*** it all mentality. Fashion is no different.Try to keep your guilt in check by realizing that you can’t fix everything, but you can do some things. Balance is key. Put down that credit card. Breathe!
Try to keep your guilt in check by realizing that you can’t fix everything, but you can do some things. Balance is key. Put down that credit card. Breathe!
3. Going for Things That Are Simply Labeled “Eco Friendly”
We are all admittedly lazy by default. When we want to invest in eco friendly clothing, it is easy to take a simple way out and just buy clothing that is labeled as Eco Friendly. Understand that by default, “Eco Friendly” is not always “Sustainable”
Not everything that is eco friendly is good for the rights of workers, or is carbon neutral, or even economically viable. It is not a regulated word. Marketers can put eco friendly on virtually anything, and can sometimes just flat-out lie.
To avoid this, realize that sustainability is a slow process and is not something we can buy ourselves out of. There is really not a lot you can do on a personal level to stop climate change or influence collective decisions through your purchasing habits.
Instead, focus on your own personal experience and how clothes make you feel. Buy less. Buy better. Research your Products. Have a solid Style Plan. Stick to your Fashion Goals. Don’t follow the trends for the sake of them being trends. Don’t forget to Breathe.
4. Going for the Cheap but Greener Option
The goal you should have in mind with sustainable fashion is quality over quantity. Green junk is still junk… even if it’s made from bamboo instead of plastic.
Sustainable fashion is rooted in minimalism and anti-consumerism. If you need to buy something, you’re better off buying something that is higher quality that will last a while than buying many things that are slightly better for the environment. Buying many things consumes more resources than just buying one good thing, even if it has a slightly higher carbon footprint and slightly more expensive.
5. Not Having a Plan for your Wardrobe
Many people make sustainable fashion mistakes when they rely on impulse purchases. Doesn’t matter if it’s slightly more eco-friendly, or made out of locally sourced, fair trade, organic cotton produced by fair-wage workers. If it doesn’t go with the rest of your outfits, you are never going to wear it, and it might as well not have been purchased at all.
Focus instead on minimizing your wardrobe to a few staple pieces and then replace your staple pieces with more sustainable options when they wear out. When I started Bottle Thread, I wanted to have a shirt that would last me a long time, and go with everything. I didn’t start out saying oh wait, how can I make a sustainable fashion company? I had a problem, and couldn’t find a solution anywhere, so I made my own, and now it’s a success.
Sustainability starts with solving long-term problems, not bandaging short term “eco-friendly” solutions. Remember that when you buy anything or start any business.