How to Build An Ethical Wardrobe

Now that you have purged your closet and made sure that your items have gone to good homes, now what? In my quest to become a more minimalist and conscious consumer, I realized that I could not be one of those people who has a 30 item capsule wardrobe.  I am realistic to the fact that I love fashion and I will want to add new items to my closet that. It is ok to add things to your wardrobe, but it is important to be aware of what you are adding into your wardrobe. Here are four ways to help you build an ethical wardrobe.

I think that the art and creativity behind fashion is fantastic. If you are like me and love fashion, purchasing your clothing second hand is the way to go. You will be able to add new items to your wardrobe while closing the cycle of production and limiting your carbon footprint.

I love a good thrift store, the hunt, the challenge, but secondhand doesn’t always mean shopping at Goodwill or the Salvation Army. If thrifting is overwhelming, there are a ton of great consignment shops such as Second Time Around and Buffalo Exchange that sell like new secondhand items. Since they are very selective with what they accept, it allows the client to shop a curated selection, much like a boutique.

Secondhand apps and sites such as Poshmark are also great if you prefer online shopping or just hosting a clothing swap party with some friends or family. It’s about preventing great clothing from ending up in landfills and reducing the amount of “new” that we buy, especially since there is so much great “used” out there!

It’s rare that we know where they things we buy come from. Most clothing production is outsourced to other countries for cheap labor. There are many problems with this practice.  One of the most significant being the ethical conditions that these workers face so that we as consumers can buy inexpensive clothes. The documentary, The True Cost, on Netflix sheds disturbing light on this issue. By buying local, you are supporting local companies, local workers, and local products. You are able to put a face to your purchase and know that you are contributing to creating jobs in the US and know that workers are getting a fair wage under ethical conditions. It is also fun to discover local shops and artist in your town and enforce a sense of community.

With all the resources that fast fashion uses, it is important to find alternative ways to produce clothing. Sustainable doesn't have to mean hippy chic or burlap sacks. There are so many great fashion forward sustainable brands available nowadays that use sustainable and recycled materials and are also ethically produced. Freedom of Animals, Sea Bags, and Teeki are some of my favorite sustainable fashion companies. They use recycled and organic materials to produce amazing new items that you would never guess was made out of recycled canvas or recycled water bottles. Sustainable can also be fashionable.

If you don’t need it, don’t buy it. If you don’t love it, don’t buy it. It is important to reduce our consumption, especially of new goods. When we reduce our consumption of new items, we reduce the amount of production and ultimately the amount of resources we use (see the cycle, supply in demand).  It takes 30lbs of water to make one new pair of jeans. That is insane when you consider how many jeans you have purchased in your life or how many jeans you see when you go to the mall. By buying less, there isn’t a need to produce as much.

I truly believe that if everyone made small changes in their choices as consumers we change our society and the world. What do you think? What are some of your tips for building an ethical wardrobe?

Thanks for reading!
xo, Jen

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