How to Build an Ethical Closet

Unlike prior generations, we are rather overwhelmed by the number of options and things around us, regardless of their nature - clothes, furniture items, vacations, food, or anything else.

Abundance is a privilege that we should all approach with thoughtfulness and responsibility, as it goes hand in hand with overconsumption and overproduction, harming our planet and drifting us apart from what is truly meaningful in our lives.

Ultimately, each of us has the ability to improve our way of consuming fashion or any other goods for that matter. Some points worth considering are listed below, and we hope they will inspire you.

Value the clothes you already own. Treat them with care.

Learning to care for our clothing items can prolong their life span. And the longer they are used, the relatively smaller their environmental footprint becomes since we are reducing the emissions-per-wear.

Keep in mind that, at least for the time being, there are no 100% sustainable solutions for production. The only items that don't add up to the negative impact of our wardrobes are the ones already there or secondhand pieces we buy locally (unlike the ones shipped across the world).

Make sure to follow the laundry instructions, embrace air drying, and avoid over-washing your clothing items, which saves water and energy, and ensures the longevity of the fabric. When it comes to your linen pieces, we hope this Care Guide will help you make the most out of them.

Buy quality, timeless designs that you will be able to enjoy for years to come.

Of course, the better the quality of our items, the longer they will preserve their shape, resistance, and colour, inspiring us to keep wearing and enjoying them. Limiting ourselves to a few well-chosen, beautifully designed, and carefully tailored pieces will not only reduce the environmental impact of our wardrobes but also simplify the answer to the question of what to wear. And, in the long run, it may even reduce the budget we spend on clothes since the cost-per-wear is diminished.

Here is a note, from FASHION REVOLUTION, on how to recognize quality: "The quickest and easiest way to tell if the garment is good or bad quality is by looking at the seams. Turn it inside out and take a good look at where it's been visibly sewn together. The seams should look smooth and lay flat with no puckering or snags. They should look neat and tidy. The closer the stitches are together, the more durable and better quality it is. Learn a bit about seams, so you’ll know when you’re looking at a well-made piece."

Consider who made your clothes.

Be curious about the processes and resources behind making your clothes. Ask questions, demand transparency, and support ethical brands.

Whenever possible, buy locally to avoid unnecessary carbon emissions caused by transportation. Supporting local makers also means that you are investing in your community, helping it grow and preserve local crafts.

Buy only when you need to. Be selective and keep looking for pieces you love.

We live in a throw-away culture, which encourages us to buy and discard constantly. But once we become aware of how this toxic system works and impacts our planet and communities, there are some steps we can take to break our habits of mindless consumption. Before buying, we should pause and ask ourselves: What is the story behind this item? Does it reflect my values? Will I keep it and wear it for a long time? What will become of it at the end of its life cycle? Do I really need it?

This curation process starts with educating ourselves and may take some time and effort, but imagine how it must feel knowing that every item in your wardrobe is a reflection of your values and a source of joy!

Equally important, when you get bored with a certain piece of clothing, try making the landfill your last option. First, try to upcycle, swap, sell, or mindfully donate it.

Last but not least: help spread awareness.

These issues are, sadly, neither known nor understood well enough in society. Therefore, spreading awareness is one of the most important things we can do to drive fashion to become more ethical and sustainable. A systemic, impactful change is only possible if more of us decide to play a part in it. So please share the information with your family and friends, and recognize that it is only by using our collective voices that we can truly make a difference.

Visual story created by Denisa Coman.

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