Our fashion buying habits can have a significant impact on the environment. TOTM spoke to sustainable fashion designer Noorin Khamisani who pioneered the ethical fashion movement to get her expert tips on how to ‘green-up’ your wardrobe.
We all want to be able to shop without feeling guilty, right? We want to know that the garments we buy are produced with as little harm as possible to the environment and with people in the supply chain treated well.
There have been numerous documentaries such as the True Cost Movie that have been instrumental in raising awareness of the effects that the clothing industry has on the workers, the environment and even on us as consumers. Fast fashion has been called out due to unethical practices and the impact it’s having on the environment.
The fashion industry and the environmental impact
Part of my work at Outsider is about raising awareness of the negative impact of the fashion industry. I also want to encourage my customers to make more ethical and sustainable choices when buying fashion.
This can be a challenge at times so I’ve created these eight tips to help you on your way…
Small incremental changes
As you replace items in your wardrobe and swap for sustainable fashion items, try to do it with clothing made from bamboo, organic cotton or other environmentally friendly fabrics.
Think especially about your essentials, the items that you will wear a lot; socks, vests and tops for layering.
Not on the high street
The UK spends almost £16 billion on clothes and footwear every year. It’s a big industry with a few large companies that pay little or no lip service to environmental concerns. However, there are a variety of companies and retailers that do care. Spread your money around. Do your research and buy from a responsible ethical brand.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for on our site then try a directory like Style With a Heart or Ethical Consumer magazine for guidance. Alternatively, you can follow sustainability creators such as Venetia La Manna or Besma (Curiously Conscious). Creators such as these not only offer up educational content on these topics but they also offer ethical alternatives.
Buying less is always going to help protect the planet. You can also shop second hand to make use of preloved items and clothes. Try looking at thrift shops, charity shops or shop via websites such as Depop or Vinted.
Buy something special
Invest in a classic LBD (little black dress) or a shirt dress that will work for many occasions. Try buying something versatile that you can style differently by adding a belt or scarf, or some statement jewellery.
Commit to wearing a piece at least 30 times and buying clothing that are of a quality to match. Avoid low quality. Cheap clothes are cheap for a reason and will often not wash well.
Don’t throw anything away
Donate clothes or textiles to charity shops or give them to your friends. Alternatively, you can get creative and cut them up to be used as other items of clothing for you, or your pets. However, if you really think they should never be worn by either human or beast again, rip them up and use them as rags for dusting and cleaning.
Most clothing and textiles can be re-used and an increasing number of recycling centres now accept clothes and footwear.
There is no need for your shoes and dresses to go to landfill, where they decompose and release methane, the bad boy of greenhouse gases.
On top of that, the dyes and chemicals used in most conventional clothing are also released during decomposition and they leach into the soil and groundwater. These two things combined makes fashion, by some accounts, the second most polluting industry in the world. Oil, unsurprisingly, comes first.
Wash your clothes with the planet in mind
When using your washing machine, 30°C is the new 40°C. It will do the same job on the vast majority of your clothes. Use environmentally friendly washing powder to give the fish a chance.
If you’re fortunate enough to have outside space I recommend keeping an eye on the weather forecast and using the sun and wind to dry your clothes. This is far more eco-friendly than electricity gorging tumble dryers.
There are some other ways to lessen your laundry impact. Hug A Tree with Me do an excellent guide.
Making or customising your own clothes will inevitably create a personal connection and result in the pieces being treasured for longer. Have a look at The Good Wardrobe for inspiration.
After every small, step you take, reflect and feel good about what you have done. Focus more on the small changes within your control rather than how powerless you feel about melting ice caps and climate change! Remember, it just takes one Outsider to make a difference.
Noorin Khamisani is a UK-based designer who has worked with designers such as Ann-Sofie Back and Jessica Ogden in London and Susan Cianciolo in New York. From working with designers and mainstream brands Noorin gain an understanding of the how the fashion industry has an impact on the environment. Noorin started her own company Outsider in 2009. The sustainable fashion label believes in style and quality but most importantly ethical sourcing and production. If you love Noorin’s tips, leave us a comment below or share on socials.