HomeLifestyleFashion & Beauty

How to be more sustainable in fashion

How to be more sustainable in fashion

Lisa Lennkh focuses on how to make your wardrobe more eco-friendly 

This year, the fashion industry is finally acknowledging its problem of being the second most environmentally unfriendly industry on the planet. It's ironic that a business that primarily concerns itself with beauty causes such environmental destruction, particularly when so many designers claim to be inspired by nature.

As much as I adore fashion and style, I make an extra effort to choose well-made clothes with longevity, and avoid short-lived trendy items. This doesn't mean I wear only "classic" items; I simply ensure that I only buy items I truly love (mostly statement pieces with a few basics thrown in) that can be styled and worn various ways for many years.


Having a truly "green" or sustainable wardrobe can get very complicated. It isn't feasible for consumers to investigate international supply chains and examine carbon footprints for every purchase. Thankfully, there are new companies, such as Positive Luxury, who make this easier and do all the investigative legwork for us. There are also apps, such as Good On You, which rate companies based on their commitment to sustainability. I expect many more of these to emerge as consumers start to ask "Who made my clothes?", "under what kind of conditions?", and "How can this garment be so cheap?"

So, what can we do now?
How do we start?

Here is what I do:

Wear natural fibres.

Making this commitment alone cuts out almost all of fast fashion. Synthetic fibres release harmful micro plastics into the waterways when they're washed, take much longer to break down in landfills, and emit harmful substances as they break down. Natural fibres don't just feel better, they are better for the planet in the long term.

Buy organic.

They're harder to find, but organic natural fibres are better for the earth. Organic cotton uses less water and no harmful pesticides, unlike conventional cotton. GOTS-certified cotton ensures that the labourers are paid a living wage, as nearly all cotton is grown in the developing world where regulations are scarce. British brand Loskey is my go-to brand for cotton.

clothes rack.jpg

Buy less.

Be sure to buy clothes you will wear and re-wear. Always choose quality over quantity.

Be sure to buy clothes you will wear and re-wear. Always choose quality over quantity and with brands that care, like heritage American shirtmaker GANT that this year announced their full process from "dirt to shirt" as well as switching all materials to bio based products. 

Buy must haves.

Not their must haves, your must haves. If the look and fit are amazing, and you feel fantastic in something, you will get loads of wear out of it. Only buy what thrills you.

Buy vintage and donate.

Whether it's from eBay or a local charity shop, buying vintage gives clothes a second life. My favourite and most unique winter jumpers are Norwegian wool ski jumpers from the 1970s that I found on eBay. Also, make the effort to give your own unloved or unworn items to a charity shop. Just because you don't love it doesn't mean someone else won't. I'm shocked at the recent statistics: in the UK, 300,000 tons or £12.5 billion worth of wearable clothes are discarded and end up in our landfills each year.

Don't buy cheap clothes.

If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Someone (or everyone) in the supply chain is not being paid a fair wage so that multinational brands can profit from mispriced clothing. Vote with your wallet for business ethics that you value.

Keep up with the top stories from Reader’s Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.