Episode #6: Creating a Sustainable Closet

Hello, welcome to Sustainable Existing. I would like to start off by thanking everyone because this week I officially have over 100 followers on my Instagram account. If you haven’t already, please be sure to check it out. It is @sustainableexisting (the name spelled out) and we also have a twitter that can be found by searching Sustainable Existing. Both of these social media accounts can be found at the bottom of my website as well as my email. Id love to hear any comments, questions, or feedback. This episode isn’t a craft like I had initially proposed to do the layout and scheduling of my podcast, but I’m attempting to reconfigure it best to fit my needs in a way that makes sense for me and you, my listeners. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

Fast fashion is cheap, poorly-made clothing made by trendy companies that are mass-produced with new styles released every few weeks. On top of that, these companies usually produce in developing countries where workers get low wages and have to work in poor conditions. For more on why it is not environmental and unethical, please listen to last week’s episode or read last week’s blog.

This week, I want to share tips and tricks on how to build a sustainable and ethical closet. This is not me encouraging you to get rid of all that you own and buy an entirely new wardrobe. The biggest piece of advice I can give to anyone is to take care of the clothing you already own. If you are doing a messier activity, either wear the same set of clothes every time or wear things like aprons to prevent staining on your clothing. Storing expensive clothing in garment bags can and will increase the longevity of your clothing. Also storing clothes in dark places like closets and drawers, away from direct sunlight, will the prevent fading of the material.

One of the easiest ways to take care of your clothes is to properly wash them but to also not over wash them. When washing your clothes, take an extra minute to make sure all of your garments are both zippered and buttoned up. This protects them from accidentally getting stuck and tangled resulting in damaged clothes. Take the extra time to also read the washing instructions of the tag of the inside of the garment. Some clothing can not be put in the dryer, while others can only be put in a mild dryer setting. Some clothes are only supposed to be hand washed. The key to not overwash your clothing is thought about what you’ve done while wearing the items. If you run a marathon, then they probably need washing, but if you put on a pair of pajamas right after taking a shower only to sleep in, you can wear those clothes another few times before they get dirty. I go to a Catholic school that requires a uniform. I will usually wear either spandex shorts or tights under my skirt, so there is no use to wash the skirt that doesn’t even touch by my body after every use. Unless the clothing is actually “dirty,” either from sweat or stains, it doesn’t need to necessarily be washed. Not only does being a conscious washer provide a longer life to your clothing, but it also saves resources like water and cleaning products (therefore saving your money.) You also won’t have to do laundry as often, saving your time as well.

The second is to take a break from shopping. Just ask yourself, “Do I really need it?” Most of the time, the answer is no. We live in a time where culture pressures us to think that having more will make us happy or that buying new things will make us happy, but this isn’t a reality that we can live up to. Save your money and the environment by simply saying no to new nonessential purchases for a while. Unsubscribe from all of the company emails that you usually don’t read anyways. Stop mindlessly scrolling through social media pages for retail companies and avoid online shopping or going to stores as a pass time. That is just like putting a bowl of candy in front of a child who can’t have it. You are more likely to cave in and buy something. When going out shopping, not necessarily just clothes shopping, create a list. Having a set plan will help you avoid impulse buying things that you may usually not even wear. Also by writing it down, you may come to it the next time you are shopping and realize that you didn’t even need it.

One of the more entertaining ways to be a more conscious consumer is to define your style. Only buy items that you love and fit your persona. Consider what your daily life consists of and conform to those needs as opposed to what is trendy. Buying items that aren’t truly you are a waste of your money as well as a waste of resources put into that item. Remember to break from the stereotypical trends and dig deep into outfits that make you feel like you. You can look at Pinterest to find outfits and pieces that you love and can create a board with or find inspiration in people you follow on social media to find inspiration as well. In this, I’m not asking anyone to compare themselves to others because you are your own person and have a unique style. If you are completely lost, looking for inspiration in different places may help you discover your sense of style you may have never been able to find on your own. From here, update your shopping, again only with necessary items.

When discovering your style, choose and look for “time capsule” garments. These are the basic items in your closet that can be used in multiple outfits and that aren’t necessarily trendy, meaning it will be out of style in a year or so. Your time capsule wardrobe may include a white, black and grey tee, a nude sweater, light and dark wash jeans, a grey cardigan, delicate necklaces, black flats, solid-colored purses, and anything along these lines. These are items you can mix and match with having a minimal amount of articles of clothing. Choose colors and patterns that suit you, and you know you will wear for years to come, again not just choosing items because they happen to be trendy that year.

While practicing social distancing, most of us have had the chance to clean out our closets. There might be some articles of clothing you find that make you question your judgment. They either may not make you feel the way you want or don’t fit properly. This goes along with finding your style. Don’t be afraid to say goodbye to designer items if you never wear them. There are different methods people use to effectively clean out their closets. Although this won’t be effective if you aren’t leaving your house because of social distancing, flipping the hangers in your closet all one way at the beginning of a period and turning them the opposite way as you wear them, can help you determine whether or not your clothing gets used. You may again want to update your shopping list from here. Maybe you found that none of your shorts fit you like they used to or maybe you found something similar to what you had on your shopping list and don’t even need to buy. You may also want to take a moment with each article of clothing and think about how many times you wear it.

Before getting rid of an item, you must ask yourself it can be 1) repaired or with minor alterations be what you are needing, 2) upcycled to fit your style, 3) repurposed into a new item. Just because the item isn’t the most ideal in its current form, doesn’t mean that with a little effort, it can be made into a piece you absolutely adore. This goes along with the Repair and Repurpose aspect that I mentioned in Episode #2. If all else fails and you feel the article of clothing can’t serve any purpose to you, you can either find a friend that would like it, sell it on a resale app, or donate it. Help others find articles of clothing they may love and put to use, instead of it just hoarding clothes that uselessly live in the back of your closet.

When it comes time to replace or shop for an item, you build a moral system and chose items that represent what you value. There are many options including articles of clothing that are made with organic cotton, or polyester from recycled bottles, or garments that are made locally, or that are vegan and cruelty-free. There are many factors to consider and this is where you are going to have to do some of your own research. Also, there are countless of possibilities on how to get clothes as well. Maybe you host a clothing swap with all of your friends. Maybe you find the piece you have been needing at a secondhand store. Maybe you find it on a resale app. Maybe you buy it directly from an ethical, sustainable brand. There are apps like "DoneGood" and "Good on You" to connect you with sustainable brands and help you find items that you may need. Doing research and finding what you feel strongly about, will help you become a strong, conscious consumer.

As I promised, I want to update you all on my sustainable journey. Not much has happened in the past few weeks or since I talked like this last time. Through my research on fast fashion and sustainable closets, I have become more aware of my choices. I have been trying to access what actually needs to be washed, especially when all I do is sit at home in front of my computer for school all day. I had cleaned out my closet last month and may clean my drawers out soon. I don’t have an idea of what I will do with the clothes I’m getting rid of, but I have to organize what I have to see what I can do. I still have been keeping up with the easier swaps and may move to more advanced ones soon, but everything is still up in the air.

I’d like to thank you all for listening and/or reading the blog. Have a great week and remember to continue to sustainably exist.

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