Saving the environment with your wardrobe

Bridget Mestrom


30 wears challenge:

We all need rules to live by, right? This one is so easy to follow it will soon become a natural instinct.
Before you buy ANY clothing or footwear, ask yourself, will I wear this 30 times? That works out to be once a week for just under half a year - minimum.
Obviously there are tricks to estimating something so vague. Don’t buy anything which you can tell is just ‘trendy’. Before you know it, you’ve only worn the piece 15 times before leaving it in the closest for good.
Buy good quality for pieces that last the full 30 wears. Experiment with the clothing. One piece can look brand new if you are able to style it multiple ways. Un-Fancy is the perfect tool if you need to learn how to wear a piece more than one way.
Avoid statement pieces. Even special occasions don’t require this indulgence. Make a conscious effort to buy pieces that can be dressed up or down depending on what you match them with.

Explore Opp shops….

…for the most adventurous fashion experience. Once only seen as budget-friendly, second-hand clothing is now bought by even the most fashion-conscious. The environmental philosophy behind second hand stores is simple: reuse, reuse, and reuse. Giving everything a second life prevents perfectly good clothing heading to the dump prematurely.

Buy sustainable brands:

If you can’t find the perfect piece in op-shops, buying new might be your only choice. Don’t feel defeated though; instead, use the opportunity to explore the many brands that produce ethical and sustainable pieces. With the world of online shopping there are endless brands that sell pieces made under ethical conditions with sustainable fabrics. Google-search ‘sustainable fashion brands’ and I promise you will enter a whole new world. Some brands can be extremely expensive, and unfortunately the selection of brands that ship to little New Zealand is quite small. Thankfully, online markets such as ASOS and The Iconic stock organic and sustainable fashions options. Kiwi company humanity stocks affordable, sustainable basics and accessories.

If you’re like me, and need to try something on before you buy, finding sustainable pieces from a shopping mall can be quite hard but it’s not impossible. Adidas has a couple of eco collaborations, including an active wear line with Stella McCartney and a sneaker line made from ocean plastic waste! Levi’s denim are also working towards sustainable practices, however this is only in its baby steps. Patagonia, Bonds and H&M Conscious are other brands to keep an eye out for.


Buy only what you need:

You can never have too many black tops, right? Wrong! You can, and chances are you probably do. Remember to check the back of your wardrobe periodically. Those jeans you’re about to pay $200 for might be extremely similar to a pair you forgot you had.
A good sort through your wardrobe might leave you shocked as to how many clothing pieces you never touch. Generally we have our favourite pieces, put them on replay and forget all the other gems we’ve hidden from ourselves. To get the most out of your clothes, make sure the piece you are buying isn’t the same as one that has been stashed for centuries.

Take care of your clothing:

If you’re following the last few tips you’ll be reusing and reinventing the clothes you already own. We encourage you to make the most of your favourite sweater. What we don’t encourage is to treat your favourite sweater so harshly that it goes holey - it is your favourite, after all! Poor laundry habits can reduce the lifespan of clothing dramatically.
The basic rules of happy laundry are:

  • Wash inside out.
  • Use the cold wash.
  • Hand-wash delicate fabrics.
  • Ditch the dryer – air-dry everything!


Learn to sew:

This is a bit of a scary challenge, but don’t underestimate yourself. I’m not suggesting you make all your clothes from scratch (although everyone should try this at least once). But, the ability to repair and alter clothing is completely achievable. I once took in a pair of jeans and it was far simpler than I could have imagined. YouTube will be your best friend in this situation.

PS: be prepared for your first couple of alterations possibly not going as you hoped, and that is perfectly fine.

Change perceptions:

In the wise words of Stella McCartney, “I don’t think that ‘eco’ should be a word that immediately conjures up images of oatmeal-coloured garments or garments that are oversized or lacking in any sort of luxury or beauty or detailing or desirability.”

Written by Bridget Mestrom