Dressing Ethically – Where to Start

With the impact that fast fashion has on our planet and its inhabitants at front of mind after the Stacey Dooley Investigates: Fashion’s Dirty Secrets documentary, many of us are feeling more inspired than ever about using our wardrobes as our arsenal for living better. Here are a few initial resolutions to inspire a new, more sustainable way to dress:

  1. BUY FOR LIFE: Last night’s Evening Standard revealed that one in 10 people would discard a piece of clothing after being pictured on social media wearing it three times; and that one in five people throw clothes in a bin rather than give them to charity. Why are we doing this? Is it because it gives us confidence? Isn’t it better and cooler to be the person who makes it a fashionable skill set to re-use the same clothes in many different ways? Buy pieces made of high-quality, durable material if you can – but whatever you buy, buy what you LOVE enough to wear forever.  The ultimate rule should always be: will I wear it at least 30 times?  

  2. GO NATURAL: While the documentary last night proved that the production of cotton can be problematic – natural fibres should rule. For example, organic cotton or wool are better for the environment than synthetic fibres such as lurex, viscose, polyester, nylon, elastane – which are petrol- and chemical-based and, most importantly, do not bio-degrade.  While shopping, look out for items made of biodegradable materials such as wool, organic or recycled cotton, linen or Tencel – but if you find something you really love that is synthetic, then revert to rule one. Or rule three…  

  3. CHECK LABELS: Discover what your clothes are made of by checking the care labels. Items that are made 100% of one material, for example 100% silk or 100% polyester, are much easier to recycle once you’re finished with them as most recycling facilities are unable to recycle blended fibres – which means they generally end up in landfill when they are no longer loved. So where you can, choose 100%.  

  4. KNOW YOUR STUFF: There may not be mentions of “ethical production” or local artisans, but the brand’s website should give you some indication of how the company is supporting safe and fair working conditions throughout the supply chain. Although not many of us go around with a sustainability encyclopedia – maybe you can check before you buy and look out for traditional techniques or certifications like Fair Wear Foundation, Fairtrade and SA 8000 Social Accountabiltiy Standard.  

  5. PARTY ON – AND ON… Although we all love them, sequins are a red flag – even if they are recycled, they still add to plastic pollution. We don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun, so if you’re addicted to glitter, try looking for glass beading or add a touch of sparkle to your look with biodegradable glitter from EcoStardust. Again, if you can’t resist sequins (and who can, actually – especially with Chrismas on the way?), remember rule one. Buy it for life. Imagine your 70-year-old self and laugh.  

  6. THE PRE-LOVED AFFAIR: Choosing second hand or vintage is always a win – from a planet and fashion standpoint.  Who wouldn’t get a thrill from wearing something that nobody else can buy? Some of our favourite recommerce shops are the Vestiaire CollectiveThe Resolution Store, Depop – but there are so many local charity shops to explore, particularly when abroad.
  7. AND ENJOY! From clothes swaps to borrowing parties, or simply buying less but buying better, there are plenty of ways to enjoy clothes without resorting to throw-away fashion. In fact – didn’t we say it? Disposable fashion is sooooooo last year.


Inspired? Read about the Most Instagrammable Sustainable Fashion Brands here and where to start with ethical beauty.