5 Steps To A More Sustainable Wardrobe
Some of you may or may not know that Chasing Lovely actually began as a fashion blog. And maybe you've noticed that it's been a while since I've done a fashion blog post (April 5, 2015, to be exact). Today I am going to share why.
A couple years ago, I discovered the concept of minimalism. At its core, minimalism is about living with intentionality—buying only what truly adds value to your life and ridding yourself of the rest. The idea is that by doing so, you'll live with less clutter, more money in your bank account, and the freedom to spend more time on what truly matters (relationships, experiences, etc).
So I did just that. I recycled old school assignments and notebooks, sold books to McKay's, hauled bags full of stuffed animals to Goodwill, and listed most of my clothes on Poshmark. It was so cathartic—it almost felt like a spiritual awakening. It made moving easier, I traveled lighter and I spent less.
Then I stumbled upon The True Cost, a documentary on Netflix that explores the environmental and human rights impact of the fast fashion industry. According to their website, the average American now generates 82 pounds of textile waste each year. "A garment from a fast fashion brand usually lasts in a woman's wardrobe for [an average of] five weeks," reveals Livia Firth, founder and creative director of Eco Age Ltd. An article from the Huffington Post explains why: "The fashion industry is designed to make you feel out of trend after one week. The goal of fast fashion is for consumers to buy as many garments as possible, as quickly as possible."
And it's true. The first time I walked into a Forever 21, I was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the store and the masses of clothes strewn everywhere. I recall ogling the price tags, wondering how in the world they were able to sell their new arrivals for so cheap. And when these clothes went on clearance—how could they possibly make a profit?! It didn't dawn on me that clothes from fast fashion brands are made in massive factories with unsafe working conditions exploiting (mostly female) employees who aren't being paid living wages.
When I learned the dirty truth about the fashion industry, I was heartbroken. Fashion has always been a huge passion of mine and I was distraught to learn that one of my favorite creative outlets was causing a great deal of harm for the world. As an avid advocate for human rights and the environment, I knew I had to think long and hard about how I was going to proceed with this new information.
I did some research and looked into ethical/sustainable clothing brands. To be bluntly honest, a lot of the styles were too plain and simple for my taste. Reformation was one conscious clothing website I found that I Ioved, but they were priced out of my budget. So I decided to withdraw my wallet from the fashion industry. For the past couple of years, I've only purchased necessities like socks, a pair of proper running shoes (I didn't own any) and some yoga pants (s/o to Girlfriend Collective for making leggings out of recycled plastic bottles!).
This is why you haven't seen any fashion posts from me in a while. I needed time to figure things out. And while I went to an extreme, I think it's given me much needed perspective. While I am not at a point where I can afford a 100% "conscious" closet, I have come to realize that striking a balance is important. Expressing myself through fashion gives me confidence—confidence when I perform; confidence in social situations (sometimes I can be very shy). I am my best self when I feel most like myself.
The point of this blog is not to guilt you into never buying clothes ever again. But I believe there are small steps we can take to shift the way we think about fashion:
"If you buy something, do you think you're going to wear it thirty times? If you can commit to that, then that's a sustainable purchase," states actress and activist (and my ultimate girl-crush) Emma Watson in a CNN interview. I am a hardcore outfit repeater. I've been wearing this jumpsuit to almost every single show lately and I own it. When you buy an outfit you feel confident in, you'll want to wear it all the time. Be proud of getting good use out of your clothes.
The world now consumes 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year—400% more than the amount we consumed two decades ago.* You know when you look at your closet and get that "I have nothing to wear" feeling? It doesn't stem from not having enough clothes. It stems from having too many clothes that you don't absolutely adore. Buying less is not about restricting yourself. It's about retraining your mindset so you don't make impulsive purchases. I love love love jumpsuits because just like a dress, you only have to buy one piece and it's a complete outfit!
Develop your unique sense of style
Don't be a carbon copy of the latest trends. Express your individuality. If you have pieces in your closet that you didn't get #30wears out of, study them. Why didn't you wear them? Was the material too scratchy? Was it too shapeless? Did the color make your skin tone look washed out? Take time to find out what colors, fabrics, and styles you constantly gravitate towards and build a wardrobe around that. This jumpsuit checks three boxes for me: it's black (my go-to color), it's comfortable (so I can breathe and move around freely when I perform), and I feel *fabulous* in it.
When I lived in Nashville, I loved shopping at Local Honey because they had a small, well-curated collection of used clothes. Going to Goodwill gives me that similar overwhelming feeling I get at Forever 21. There's so much to choose from and I don't have the time to sift through it all. But I have mad respect for the thrifters of the world! If you have the patience, thrifting is the cheapest and most sustainable option out there.
Consign, sell, donate, recycle
Getting rid of old clothes? Consign them at your local consignment store. Sell them on Poshmark. Donate them to a shelter. If they're too worn to donate, please do not send them to the landfill! Do a simple Google search: Clothes recycling [insert your city]. Or drop them off at an H&M store or a clothes recycling bin near you.
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