Eco-friendly fashion is a trend that’s fast catching on.
Emma Watson, Helen Hunt and Naomie Harris are among many eco-conscious celebrities joining the green movement, with both Helen and Naomie ditching designer labels for more sustainable, ethical gowns on the red carpet.
Eco-fashion activist Livia Firth has been encouraging celebrities to go green on the red carpet and almost always wears labels with good eco creds.
Even fashion designers like Stella McCartney and high street retailers like H&M have been striving to create sustainable products.
And if you are looking to follow their footsteps, here’s how you can go green without sacrificing your personal style in 15 simple steps.
1. Rearrange your wardrobe
Match your wardrobe to the season. Pack away garments that you won’t need for, say, the winter, like light T-shirts and summer dresses and make room for coats and woollies.
“This will ensure you have more space in your wardrobe and can see what you have more easily, meaning you can shop savvy for those ‘of the moment’ fashion pieces,” says Leigh Mapledoram, programme area manager for textiles at WRAP, an organisation that focuses on sustainable use of resources.
2. Plan your looks
Research the hottest trends of the season and decide on which looks you want to go for.
“Making a list before you head to the shops helps to keep you focused and get the best pieces, rather than buying something on impulse because it’s cheap or on sale,” says Mapledoram.
3. Invest wisely
Impulse buying can be quite tempting, especially if there’s something on sale, but don’t reach for your purse straight away.
“It’s tempting to buy cheaper clothing to keep on-trend, but it is also important to invest wisely in good quality fabrics, like denim or leather, for those wardrobe staples,” says Mapledoram.
4. Don’t ditch them just yet
Trends have a habit of repeating themselves, so don’t throw away those much-loved jeans away just because they have gone out of style.
“Fashion is cyclical and yesterday’s hot trends are sure to come back in again,” says Mapledoram.
“Designers always revisit iconic shapes from the 60s, 70s and 80s, so if you have any classic pieces in good condition, don’t throw them away as they could be your ticket to becoming the trendy eco fashionista.”
5. Look for fairtrade if you can
Being eco-friendly is not just about the environment. It also means that what you ultimately buy has been sourced ethically and those involved in the production process have a recognised fair trade system.
“Try and buy fairtrade fashion where you can – it is quite easy to find great fairtrade fashion and accessories especially online, you have the assurance that workers have been paid fairly and in good working conditions,” says Lianne Ludlow, founder and director of Fashion-conscience.com, which sells eco-friendly and sustainable clothing and accessories.
6. Go vintage
Unique luxury vintage accessories often retain a high value – so they make great investment pieces (with good resale value), provided the garment is in good condition.
“For the past 10 years, vintage has become much more fashionable with our favourite style icons preferring to choose a one-of-a-kind piece with history rather than a brand new off the rail outfit,” says Mapledoram.
“Buy from a reputable dealer and always check for moth damage, stains and discolouration.”
Vintage Fashion Guild website offers great advice and information on vintage fashion.
7. Buy second hand
Charity shops often house hidden treasures – from unique quirky pieces to timeless classics, and fashion and beauty blogger India Benjamin has a fondness for second-hand bargains.
“One of the best ways to really reduce your carbon footprint when choosing fashionwear is shopping for second-hand clothes,” she says. “This reduces the need for resources in creating new clothes (such as materials, emissions and labour) and reduces waste.
“It’s also one of the more affordable ways of shopping eco-friendly, and means you can get some unique quirky pieces as well as high end brands and highstreet wear.”
8. Start sewing
If you are good with the needle, maybe there’s a chance some of your battered clothing could get a new lease of life.
“Recycle your own old clothes by making them into something new,” says Ludlow. “Turn old sweaters into scarves or mittens, or tatty jeans into shorts or cool denim skirts – which are all quite simple to do.”
9. Get swapping
One woman’s throwaway is another woman’s treasure, so if you are looking to get rid of some of your clothing, swap them for something you like.
“Clothes swap with friends or go to clothes swapping events – these became really popular a few years ago and there are still lots on the go,” says Ludlow.
10. Sell and donate
“When you’ve decided that an item is no longer for you, resist the urge to bin it and instead pass it on,” says Mapledoram. “If it’s in good condition, you can make extra money by selling it online or at car boot sales.
“And if it’s looking a bit worse for wear, you can still donate it, as the fibres can still be recycled.”
11. Think sustainable
Do some research about eco-friendly materials and brands that specialise in sustainable clothing.
“There are clothes that use sustainable or recycled fabrics, such as recycled polyester, Tencel, or Lyocell, which are all made from plant fibres,” says Ludlow. “And of course, there’s wool – the ultimate sustainable fibre.
“Support UK-made labels and producers and cut down on shipping energy wastage, and support UK business, skills and work forces.”
12. Check the labels
Information about where an item is made and what it is sourced from is usually available on the labels.
“You can look for logos and symbols from organisations such as MADE, GOTS, or the Fairtrade Foundation which denote an item’s sustainability, or if is organic or fairtrade,” says Ludlow.
“Many go so far as to tell you who exactly made it. However, not all items that are actually eco will have these symbols, so find the labels you love that you know are and follow them. “
13. Research your leather
“Leather can be deemed as very unecological due to tanning processes as well as how and where the cows are kept, but some brands use recycled leather while a few use vegetable tanned leather, which use less chemicals,” says Ludlow.
Some bags and purses are also made from food industry off-cuts such as eel and fish skin.
“A lot of companies use man-made materials instead and, of course, you can find lots of fairtrade made and sustainable bags made from similar materials to clothes, or hemp or upcycled textiles such a rubber types or hoses. It can make for very exciting design,” adds Ludlow.
14. Preserve your precious items
Looking after your clothing will make it last longer and using lower temperature settings while doing your laundry will help protect the fabrics.
“Turning the temperature down to 30 degrees saves on energy (and money!) and is much gentler on fabrics, helping them last longer,” says Mapledoram.
Take it a step further by line-drying your clothing to further decrease energy bills.
15. Use accessories to brighten your look
“Scarves, broaches and belts are staples within any stylist’s toolbox – these pieces can instantly change the shape, add a fun detail or give an individual twist on a great neutral outfit,” says Mapledoram.
“You can also pick these up quite cheaply from flea markets and charity shops.”