How to Find Sustainable Clothing on a Budget

Finding sustainable clothing
is as easy as cleaning out your closet.

Written by Maddie Howard

You have most likely heard the
word “sustainable” concerning the economic development or natural resources but
did you know that it is equally essential for your wardrobe to be sustainable
too? Sustainable clothing lowers the environmental impact the clothing industry
has on our planet, and if you aren’t on board yet, then you probably don’t know
the scary statistics.
Get the Facts

Landfills and Sustainable Clothing

  1. The fashion industry is the
    world’s second-largest polluter, after oil. 
    (Yes, really!) (Source)
  2. It takes an average of 7,000
    liters of water to produce one pair of jeans. That’s enough to flush your
    toilet for 3 years! (Source)
  3. Fast fashion giants make
    clothing to fall apart: they are obsessed with the bottom line, so will do anything
    to make you buy more clothes. (Source)
  4. Consumers wear a garment, on
    average, 7 times before throwing it away. (Source)
  5. Only 10% of the clothes people
    donate to thrift stores or charities get sold, the rest goes to landfill.
  6. 2,500,000,000 pounds of used
    clothing ends up in landfills each year. (Source)
  7. Clothes made from polyester
    can take up to 200 years to break down. A.K.A. your college t-shirt will be
    around longer than you will. (Source)
Are you feeling a little
helpless? That’s okay! There are many things you can do to incorporate
sustainable clothing into your wardrobe. It is important to be an educated
consumer because the actions of a group of individuals can have a ripple effect
to change the fashion industry for the better. Use our guide below to reduce
your fashion carbon footprint for little to no cost at all!
Cut Down Your Closet

Sustainable Clothing and Cutting Down your Closet
It may seem counter intuitive
to throw away your old clothing in order to be more sustainable, but hear us
out! The first step to an eco-friendly wardrobe is to identify the essential
items you wear on a daily basis and to revamp items that you may have otherwise
tossed out! Start by organizing your closet into four piles. Clothes you will
wear for a long time, clothes you would wear if they fit better, clothes that
are in decent shape but you won’t wear again, and clothes that are
torn/stained. Take the first two piles and put them back in your closet, a
great way to save ill-fitting clothes that aren’t being worn is to have them
professionally tailored instead of buying cheap replacements that will
ultimately fall apart. For the outfits that are gently used but won’t be worn
again, consider donating them to your local Goodwill or make a quick buck by
selling them through used fashion retail apps such as Poshmark, Tradsey, or
Depop. Lastly, take the pile of damaged clothes to a local recycling drop off
point or a clothing and textile bank to have them recycled into a variety of
useful items.
Invest in Sustainable Clothing

How to Invest in Sustainable Clothing
Let’s get real for a second.
You don’t need that basic tee in 15 different shades of white. The biggest
issue with fast fashion is that clothing is historically cheaper than ever
before. As a result, consumers are tempted to buy trendy clothing that is
destined to fall apart by the end of the season. Our advice? Buy less, spend
more. It’s okay to splurge on timeless pieces that will last you for years to
come. Identify your must-have fashion basics and invest in durable alternatives
then you can update the look with trendy accessories when necessary. Remember:
Long-lasting clothing equals sustainable clothing!
Shop Online (Without Express

Sustainable Clothes with Online Shopping
According to a recent study,
22% of the garment industry’s environmental impact is the result of consumer
drive from retailer to retailer in search of their next purchase! All that time
spent in the car has a detrimental effect on our earth and to make matters
worse shopping in stores makes it near impossible to make an educated buying
decision. There has to be a better way, and there is, shop online!
Shopping online is more
efficient than buying in person for a multitude of reasons. Shipping services
are essentially public transportation for your clothes. The trucks to move
large loads while using a minimal amount of fuel. Direct shipping also cuts out
the middleman by sending to package from the distribution center straight to
your front door. Still not convinced? Shopping online gives the advantage of
being a thoughtful consumer. Before purchasing a product be sure to do some
research on the company’s website about how the products are made. (Tip: if the
site doesn’t say anything, it’s not a good sign.)
There is one caveat, the
environmental benefits of online shopping are lost if you choose the free 2-day
shipping option. Two-day shipping forces companies to send out trucks that are
not at full capacity thus lowering their efficiency. By choosing extended
shipping, the company can wait until the products arrive from their different
locations and consolidate them into one shipment. It may be tempting to choose
free shipping on that new tie, but trust us, it’s worth the wait.

Avoid Polyester, Acrylic, and

Choosing Fabrics to Avoid and Sustainable Clothing
Polyester, acrylic, and cotton
are essentially the bad boys of the fashion industry. The production of these
materials is hard on our environment and getting rid of them is even harder
(see #7). Polyester requires double the energy to produce than it’s fabric
counterparts and isn’t biodegradable. This is a massive problem as it is now
believed that synthetic fabrics are the most significant source of microplastic
pollution in our oceans. Hope you enjoy your salmon with a side of plastic!
Believe it or not, acrylic
fabrics are even more toxic to produce than polyester! Its manufacturing
process requires the use of several highly dangerous chemicals which puts
factory workers at risk and may cause cancer, according to the EPA.
One fabric on this list that
may surprise you to find on this list is cotton. However, cotton production
requires a multitude or pesticides and herbicides which are often excessively
applied to the crops. Scientists think that the abuse of these chemicals has
directly resulted in the worldwide decline of insects. Yikes! Always check the
materials you clothing is made from, it could be life or death.

Buy Second Hand

Finding Sustainable Clothing at Thrift Shops
The most obvious way to find sustainable
clothing is at second-hand stores. Not only is thrifting fun, it’s also
traditionally cheaper than buying a from a name brand retailer. Buying
gently-used clothing helps to extend product lifetime and keeps clothing out of
landfills and in wardrobes where it belongs. The best part is second-hand
retailers are often local business which helps keep your money within the
community and away from greedy corporations.
Implement any of these tips,
and you will be well on your way to a sustainable lifestyle. Do you know of any
stores that sell in sustainable clothing? Let us know in the comments
Maddie Howard

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.