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7 ways to make your wardrobe more eco-friendly

There's a skeleton hiding in your closet - here's how to get rid of it

We know - that £3 T-shirt is tempting; it's cheap, it  looks good on you and you could get it in 10 different  colours. But there's a reason it's cheap - and it's  not to help out us fellow consumers! Fast and  unsustainable fashion is hurting both people and the planet, with  more and more of the population fuelling it by the day. As consumers,  we need to overhaul our relationship with clothing, how we come into  possession of it, how we treat it and how we deal with it when we're  done. Here are seven ways to make your wardrobe more eco-friendly.

1. Shop vegan

Not only are leather, wool and fur products horrific for animals,  but they are also terrible for the planet. Animal agriculture is one  of the world's leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions, land  devastation, air pollution and water contamination. Each time you  buy clothing made from leather, wool or fur, you're contributing to  the long-term carbon footprint of the farming industry and intense  production methods - as well as animal cruelty.

The leather industry is one of the worst offenders. In order to  'transform' an animal's hide into leather, it must go through an  intense, resource-heavy process, using a cocktail of toxic chemicals  like bleaching agents and formaldehyde.  But no one needs to buy leather, wool or fur products! There are  so many vegan leathers available, made from things like pineapples,  apples, cacti or mushrooms. Likewise, you can buy faux fur clothing  and wool-free garments made from plant-based materials.

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2. Buy sustainable fabrics

Whilst materials like leather are obviously not  sustainable, there are many fabrics where it is  more difficult to tell. Cotton, for example, is  grown naturally, yes, but it is one of the most  demanding crops on the planet, with heavy  uses of toxic pesticides and herbicides  as well as genetic modification. During  production, cotton requires vast  amounts of water, with just one T-shirt  needing 2,700 litres!

Sustainable fabrics, on the other  hand, are those that are made from  renewable materials that are grown  in ecologically-friendly ways, and  can be transformed into clothing via  production methods that don't harm the  make your wardrobe 7 ways to… more eco-friendly There's a skeleton hiding in your closet -  here's how to get rid of it 104 Vegan Planet Earth. Many sustainable fabrics can also be reused or recycled once  finished with.

Sustainable fabrics to look out for include bamboo, Tencel  (obtained from wood cellulose), linen and hemp. Ensure  that materials are certified organic - that way, you can  be sure that you are buying from the most eco-friendly  source, without the use of herbicides or pesticides and  additional chemicals.

What about organic cotton? According to The World  Counts (theworldcounts.com), organic cotton has 62 per cent  lower energy demand, 46 per cent lower CO2 emissions and  has 26 per cent lower soil erosions than non-organic cotton.  The water consumption of organic cotton is still a downside  though - the average yield of organic cotton is 25 per cent  lower than conventional, meaning that more cotton plants  are needed and thus, more water is used to make a single  organic cotton T-shirt than a non-organic one. So, whilst  organic cotton is better in some ways than non-organic  cotton, options like certified organic bamboo and  hemp are still more sustainable alternatives. It's also important to try to understand how fabrics are processed;  even natural materials can be processed into fabrics through  methods that harm the planet. Only purchase fabrics that are  processed in an ecological way. This is a little bit more difficult to  find out, but companies like PaperTale (papertale.org) are springing  up to try to make this easier. PaperTaled products allow you to trace  the entire production line of the garment, right down to sourcing  and processing.

3. Buy second hand

We need to shift our mindsets from only wanting to buy brand-new  and never-worn-before clothing and accessories, to instead, wanting  something old that's new for you, but not the planet! Thrift, charity  and vintage shops are gold mines for fashion lovers, brimming with  gorgeous clothing and accessories, at half the cost of new items.  Why buy recently-made trousers or T-shirts if there are already  billions out there?

By shifting your thinking and purchasing behaviours, you will  dramatically reduce your carbon footprint, all the while supporting  local businesses and people in your area. There are enough clothes on Earth to dress everyone 10 times over.  So, let's start buying each other's old clothes, so that we don't need to  produce quite so many new items!

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4. Repair, upcycle and repurpose

Have you found a hole in a T-shirt before? What did you do with it?  We hope you didn't throw it away, because it can be so easy to repair  clothing (depending on how bad the hole, rip or perished material  is!). But if you do find yourself with an item that simply has a tear, grab  yourself a needle and thread and have a go at mending. If the hole  is larger, patch it up with a funky square of material. If you can't do it  yourself or the repair requires an expert, take it to your local clothing  alteration or repair store, a tailor or a seamstress. For a small fee they  will fix it as good as new.

If you're bored of your current wardrobe, rather than buying  something new, why don't you upcycle or repurpose your clothes into  something new? For example, make a boring white T-shirt striking  by getting creative with tie dye, or sew in sequins or fun badges.  Similarly, turn your ripped jeans into shorts, by cutting off the bottom  section, or make them into a purse or bag by cutting out squares,  sewing them together and adding a zip or buttons. The possibilities  are endless.

5. Swap clothes

Clothes swaps are a wonderful way to both gain new items and lose  old clothing you no longer like.

There are tonnes of clothes swap groups already established  around the UK - join a local swap group for your area on Facebook  or set one up in your community. You could also host a clothes swap  party with your colleagues, friends and family! What you no longer  want to wear, your friend might love, and likewise, you might find  something of theirs that would look great on you.

Swapping clothing prolongs the life of a garment, reducing the  pressure on the Earth for raw materials and energy, minimising the  impact of fashion.

Check out clothes swapping events on Eventbrite (eventbrite.com)  or head to swopped.co.uk to swap clothes online.

6. Research before you buy

Whenever you buy something, you are giving your seal of approval to  a company's labour and production practices, providing them with  more funding to continue these methods - good or bad.

You will unfortunately, find a lot of 'greenwashing' in the fashion  industry - this is where brands give consumers the impression that  they are environmentally-minded, without actually fulfilling those  values. It's a deceitful marketing tactic to lure you in. Watch out for  eco-friendly buzzwords on clothing labels like 'green', 'sustainable' or  'eco-friendly', as numerous companies use these words even though  their clothes don't live up to them.

The best thing to do to be sure of a company's eco-credentials,  is to research before you buy from them - do not just take their  word for it. Look into their story, sources and production methods,  read customer reviews and check out websites like Labour  Behind the Label (labourbehindthelabel.org) to find out their  sustainability credentials

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7. Don't buy unnecessarily

What's the best thing you can do to make your wardrobe more eco[1]friendly? Don't buy anything at all! We are a consumer society that  consumes to much - especially when it comes to fashion. We all  know someone who buys new clothes on a monthly or a weekly basis  - not because they need them, but because they want them.

From now on, only buy absolutely necessary clothing. Before  you buy something new, think, 'Why do I want this?' and 'Do I  actually need this?' - if the answers are no, put it back on the rail and  walk away.

Don't buy a new dress for every party you go to - wear the same  outfit more than once! No one is going to care if they've seen you  wear it before. Simply put, the less we buy, the less that needs to be  produced, and the less strain is put on the planet.

So, embrace the slow fashion movement - by only buying the  essentials when you actually need them.

VeganLife

The lifestyle magazine written by vegans for vegans.