How to shop more sustainably

Lisa Lennkh

Lisa Lennkh explores some of the fashion industry's more sustainable options 

Autumn's cooler temperatures and beautiful colours never cease to excite me. I love reaching deep into my closet and rediscovering the soft cashmere and wool items that have served me well for many years. One of my favourites is this burnt orange lightweight, unlined wool coat from Hobbs. Every October, I decide it's time for it to make its yearly debut. The loose style allows for lots of layering, so I'm able to wear it now and throughout the colder winter weather. It was a carefully considered purchase, and one I've not regretted for a moment. I always find the more time and thought I put into my wardrobe investments, the better they pay off. I only wish I'd learned this lesson about not shopping impulsively a lot sooner than I did!

An item currently under consideration is this one that caught my eye last winter—a recycled cashmere poncho from Winser London. They source this from an Italian factory that takes previously worn or damaged cashmere items, bleaches out the colour, re-spins the yarns, dyes them again, and makes luxurious new knitwear. I've tried on this long poncho a few times, and a year later, I still love it. Its nearly Scandinavian level of modern simplicity really appeals to me. Also, the cashmere itself is superb quality. The versatility and elegance of a long poncho makes it even more irresistible. I'd use it as cosy layer for wearing around the house in winter. It would be ideal for a chilly office or aeroplane. It layers perfectly under a loose long coat like my orange one. I love how it modernises a jumper, or blouse, or even a sleeveless top (like Sisters Sledge in the photo). It feels like a wise investment for my wardrobe; supporting a business that facilitates sustainable fashion feels like a wise direction of my money.

"Circular fashion", where no longer used items are re-crafted into new clothes (like this poncho) is a new way of consuming that will be with us forever. It switches the make-wear-and-dispose cycle of fashion into a circular one, where every aspect of the process is geared to ensure tons of clothing do not end up in landfill each year. Some fibres, mostly the inexpensive man-made ones used by the fast fashion industry, simply do not recycle and do not decompose in landfill at the end of their usefulness. Not all synthetic fibres are wasteful—the clever hosiery brand Swedish Stockings will take back your laddered tights and stockings to recycle them into brand new ones. In general though, circular fashion opts for wool, cotton, cashmere, hemp, and silk—all of which can be re-used or mixed with new natural fibres, without any compromise in quality. These materials are more expensive, but if they are used in several circular cycles of clothing in the future, they pollute and waste less of our natural resources. "Shopping my own closet", making only mindful purchases, and looking for ways to recycle my clothes makes me a better consumer. Innovative circular fashion brands will soon be giving us many more incredible options. 

Read more: 50 Reusable face coverings for every style

Read more: The evolution of the trench coat


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