The sounds of hangers clinking together, the feel of fabrics and rummaging through the racks might not be possible right now. But it doesn’t mean you can’t hunt for some gems online. And with these seven tips I hope to make your hunt a resounding, affordable and stylish success.
I’m reducing food waste, recycling all the waste and repairing my clothes. Overall, I’d give myself a 6.9 for being green in my day to day life. Still, there are some things where I’ve failed in the last year that need some attention in 2021.
About two years ago I started tracking how many times I’ve worn my clothes. What inspired me was reading Liv Firth’s 30 wears rule and thinking to myself ”Of course I’ve worn everything I own 30 times…right?” Well…I couldn’t have been more wrong: for the past 25 months I’ve only worn 15% of my wardrobe 30 times or more – but that’s a story for another time.
When I set up my tracking I also started adding things like cost, wear per year and I divided them into four labels: items that are: Green, Fast Fashion, Vintage & Second Hand, and 7 Years And Older.
Right now the breakdown of my total wardrobe looks like this.
16% is Older Than 7 Years – The pieces I’ve had for a long long time.
I’m counting all of my fast fashion buys I’ve had for over 7 years. The oldest thing I still wear are my 16-year-old Doc Martens boots.
14% is Green – All the green things I have in my wardrobe.
I wasn’t too specific on this one when I started labelling, so ‘Green’ applies to everything from: Ethically-produced Filipa K Trousers, eco Monki jeans made of bio cotton and my sustainable shirt from Everlane.
51% is Vintage or Second Hand – All things preloved.
Most of it is vintage, I’m talkin 1960s-1990s. One of the brands I really like buying has the year it was made written on the label, and it makes me so happy finding items that are from the same collection. Interestingly, many of my second hand items are the same type of fast fashion items I used to buy back in the day.
19% is Fast Fashion – Items from high street fast fashion brands.
I don’t tend to buy these online. I have these mainly as I was too lazy to look into what I needed, really couldn’t find a green alternative or they were just plain old impulse buys.
Where can I go from here?
I know brands like Monki and Everlane aren’t as green as I want them to be and that should be reflected on my list. But this will have to wait until I feel like going through an Excel sheet on a day off.
Learn From My Buying Pattern
Honestly? I find owning 19% fast fashion is a lot. I know I will continue to wear these items, so they will eventually end up in the older than 7 years category. In order to avoid adding new items to this category I need to find ethical brands that sell jackets and continue to get my Converse and Nike go-to sneakers second hand.
Support Ethical Brands
Clothes that are produced under the fairest possible conditions is what I want from my clothes. That’s why I should be supporting ethical companies with my purchasing decisions. Mud Jeans, ArmedAngels and Thinking MU are three brands I want to look into next time I need jeans or a top.
Recycle The Right Way (For Me)
Repurpose things that are broken beyond repair. I know the H&M group has a recycling programme, but I don’t want to be part of that so I need to find alternative options. At the moment my broken items usually end up as rags, but I hope in the future I can make them into something else.
Take Care Of My Clothes
Take care of the clothes I have by not throwing away items that are stained, washed too often or too hot. I also don’t dry them in the direct sun or in the dryer to help prolong their life.
Thinking of setting yourself some green goals for 2021? Here are some simple ones I’ve had on my list over the last few years you can pick from.
I’ve also added some personal tips and brand suggestions, but as always it’s going to be trial and error to see what works for you and your routine. Google is your best friend to find local alternatives if that’s something that you find important.
Recycle Or Save Your Food Scraps
You could start recycling your food waste if you haven’t already. Have a small bin in your kitchen and regularly empty it. My previous council didn’t do food waste pick-ups so I used to save them in the freezer and drop them off at a community garden. It took me a while to make it part of my routine, but was so worth it in the end. Also, consider freezing the peels to make vegetable stock.
Buy Your Vegetables and Fruit From Farmers’ Markets If you don’t have a market near you, Google for vegetable / fruit boxes near you. I get a bi-weekly fruit box from Oddbox, but there might even be regional farms that sell them. Often the produce offers are seasonal so you know that it hasn’t travelled halfway the world and they are mostly plastic free. That is hitting three stones at once.
Book Your Accommodations Directly
If in 2021 you get the chance to travel then book it with the hotel itself instead of using Booking.com. It’s become so easy to search and book via them, but the practice is not that ethical as it has forced smaller accommodations to go on there and hand over 15% to Booking. If you’re worried about cancellation flexibility, contact the hotel to double-check this.
Make Your Go-To Meals Vegetarian
Eating less meat is topping a lot of resolutions, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be that hard. My journey to eating less meat started with making my 10 go-to meals meat free. For my Spaghetti Bolognese I swapped meat with lentils, the carne in my chili became three different beans and the chicken in curries was replaced by cauliflower and chickpeas. Now this has become part of my routine, I don’t even have to think about what I’m cooking next.
Get Your Booze Locally
Something I started doing during the first lockdown is trying to get drinks from local breweries and distilleries. I didn’t know most of these independent breweries even existed near me so if you think there are none near you do a Google search and give them a try. This way you’re not only supporting the locals but you also make the travel impact chain way greener.
Start Making Your Bathroom Plastic Free
Next time you need a new shampoo or shower gel, replace it with bars. Lush is a good start and we have much to thank them as they made soap bars accessible for a lot of us. But if you want something more local and palm oil free find a local alternative. My current go-to soap is the Charcoal & Tea Tree from Poapoa, my shampoo bar is the Avocado one from Workshop London and my face gets the Breakfast Bar treatment from Tanaka. In 2021 I want to try to replace my washing up liquid with a bar as well.
Have A Sustainable Period
And think about going for a menstruation cup or underwear. If that’s going too far, why not start replacing your tampons and pads with a plastic and perfume free brand? One of those brands that makes them out of organic cotton is Yoni, a Dutch brand that’s been around for a while and has finally made their way to the UK on the shelves … yes, even your local supermarket!
Start Your Ethical Wardrobe Journey With Socks And Underwear
The easiest way to start building a greener wardrobe is by replacing your worn out socks and underwear with ethical brands. Thought Clothing does great socks. People Tree for socks and underwear basics while Lara Intimates is worth checking if you want something different.
Rent An Outfit For A Special Occasion Next time you have an event that needs dressing up why not try renting? If you really don’t have anything in your closet that is. I used these when I was working in film PR because I didn’t see a point in having many dresses that I can only wear once. There are quite a few sites where you can rent everything from dresses to shoes and bags.
Do you have any green goals, tips or advice to share?
It was going to be a fun experiment, but as you can guess this year had other plans. The trips I did take sure were more responsible though, and here is how I did:
One Day Work Trip To Paris A one-day work trip that was supposed to take place in the South of France and was going to be a flight. Thankfully the client had to be in Paris for other meetings, so we met in the middle, which worked out great as we could take the Eurostar. It wasn’t that easy and took some convincing, as 2/3 of the team lived near an airport and saw it as more convenient. I don’t remember if it was the ticket prices, inconvenient times or my insisting, but we went to Paris by train!
In Paris we made use of the metro and picked up lunch at a local place. But just like last year. my pitfall was plastic when getting coffee in a to-go cup – as I forgot my Keepcup – and a bottle of plastic water – because I couldn’t find anywhere to refill my water bottle.
Weekend Trip To York
I went by train and walked everywhere. In York, I spend big bucks on visiting local attractions, and independent restaurants and coffee places. I also fully made use of my KeepCup and refill spots for my water bottle.
What did go wrong is that I stayed at a hotel that is part of a wider hotel group, something that I wanted to avoid, but it really wasn’t obvious and not something I knew until checking for this post.
A Visit To The Netherlands I took the good old Eurostar to and from Rotterdam. During my stay I made use of the car, bus, train and bike! Me and my puffed-up dress even biked to a wedding. I think that’s one of the most Dutch things I’ve ever done.
When I didn’t stay at home or with friends I stayed at a family run accommodation for two nights. The place was a converted barn surrounded by corn fields on one side and cows on the other. I ate and drank at local places and only visited a chain once.
But not all went well: I bought a water bottle because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to refill my water bottle. And I used plastic cups when getting drinks because reusable cups aren’t part of keeping safe during COVID.
All in all I did ok! I’m a bit frustrated that I didn’t double-check that the hotel in York was independent. If I’m allowed to travel next year I want to pay extra attention to staying in greener places.
Slow Fashion Season 2020 is kicking off from 21 June – 21 September. This initiative aims to raise awareness about the (fast) fashion industry and how consumers can respond to it. They’re challenging you to make conscious clothing purchases for three whole months. You might have already done that given recent events, but now things are slowly opening again it might be tempted to fall back into your old habits. So having a three month goal to aim for might be just what we need.
Once you sign up, you’ll receive newsletters with tips and words of encouragement, or you can follow the community on Instagram for even more inspiration. To give you an idea about some of the topics and themes: what I really liked last year was calculating my Closet Mass Index, where you count all the clothes you bought new, items you were gifted and all the unworn ones. You can also split those into green or second-hand purchases. And from there, you can take it further and figure out why you don’t wear certain items in your collection, which can help you avoid making those purchase mistakes in the future.
The Slow Fashion Season choices are:
Avoid buying from fast fashion brands
Trade, upcycle or DIY clothing
Buy second-hand and vintage
And in light of COVID-19 they’ve added a new one:
Support sustainable, local, small fashion businesses
I’ve mentioned some of my favourite UK brands that I can highly recommend here. Today, I want to highlight some small UK webshops that sell international brands I’m a fan of. I feel the Dutch are way ahead when it comes to sustainable denim, while the Germans have next level essentials with more style than you can imagine, and the Spanish are acing it with ethical footwear. I personally try not to import items, that’s why I’m happy with webshops that curate and sell different brands making it easier for me to buy them. So, if you’re taking part in SFS and don’t have a local shop near you, here are the shops across the UK you can support while getting your hands green.
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