Fashion Muse

The Student's Guide to Sustainability

Amy Wells suggests the small swaps that you can make to get an eco-friendly wardrobe revamp for this season

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Image Credit: Amy Wells

Now, more than ever, we’re questioning our habits when it comes to what they do to our planet. One habit that I’ve been led to question recently is the choices I make when it comes to clothes. Anyone who’s met me knows I have a fairly extensive wardrobe, and while previously my main concern was the damage done to my wallet, lately I’ve been feeling guilty about the harm it is causing the environment too.

The term "fast fashion" used to be a selling point, expressing that clothes in stores, or more often online, were quickly changing to keep up with the latest trends, so-called "microseasons" in between the traditional S/S and A/W collections. I’ve heard it more times than I can count, and not in a good way. With the fashion industry being accused of being one of the most polluting there is, something has to change. While it may not be you personally pumping pollutants into the atmosphere or the ocean, we’ve seen that we can’t rely on the multinational corporations that are doing it to change their ways, not overnight at least. However, we can change ours.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s felt bad before for not buying something from the more "sustainable" range in a high street store, but with it often costing a fair bit extra for what more or less seems like the same item, who can blame us? The first step here, of course, is, if you can afford to, take that option wherever it’s available. Rethinking what’s important to us is sometimes the hardest thing to do, making us really challenge our own priorities. But I get it, you work hard for your money, so maybe you’ll splash a few extra quid when you can on the environmentally friendly option, but sometimes the option isn’t there, or you really can’t afford it. What else can you do?

Annabel Mulliner’s previous article makes some excellent suggestions, and I’m a big advocate for charity shopping too. Changing where and how you shop is half the battle, but what about the piles of clothes you already have?

First and foremost, love them. I may own a lot of clothes, but I don’t buy things I don’t love. As anyone who follows my Instagram feed will know, based on how much I post about my outfits (I promise I do try to hold back) it’s not good for your wallet, nor the planet to buy something for a handful of occasions and then chuck it out.

If you take nothing else from what I say, all I ask is you don’t throw clothes away. Again, Annabel has some great suggestions you can use for clothes you’re getting rid of, as well as ones you want things like *Depop *and clothes swaps- but it doesn’t have to be a coordinated event. Something doesn’t fit as well as you thought but it’s too late to give it back, or you don’t like it as much as you thought? Speak to your friends! Chances are, they probably don’t hate your taste in clothes, and they would appreciate you gifting, or trading in exchange for a drink whatever item you don’t want.

If you’re doing more hefty spring cleaning of your wardrobe, check out donation boxes. We have all probably had collection bags posted through our doorsteps for various charities, and if you're passionate about the relevant cause, then this could be your first point of call! If not, try schemes like H&M's ‘Recycle Your Clothes’, which is available in all stores. In exchange for a voucher, you can simply drop off whatever clothes you don’t want, whether it is new and unused or something that’s been loved till the end of its life.

Even better, some brands will even take things like ripped tights, a fact I wish I had known back in school when I almost definitely laddered about a million pairs. Obviously, such items cannot be reworn or reused as the more pristine and higher quality garments can. Nevertheless, they can still have a more useful and eco- friendly future than ending up in landfill or incineration. And you get a little something back to go back out shopping with (sustainably, of course).

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