7 Tips for a Sustainable Closet

(Here I am wearing a vintage silk kimono that I purchased from a second-hand shop in Iceland with my favorite merino wool camisole from Rambler’s Way)

  • Avoid white or light colors. Not only will you have to wash them more often but they also show and retain stains more than darker colors. This means that if they’re polyester they will be releasing micro bits of plastic into the water with every wash and they will inevitably have a shorter shelf life than that same item in black.
  • Avoid purchasing clothes that are not made from natural fibers. Not only are polyester and rayon made from plastic (ew!), but human-made materials also retain scents more than those that come directly from nature. Wool, bamboo, and hemp are all naturally anti-bacterial and therefore smell a lot better for longer. Silk, too is surprisingly scent-resistant, even for someone like me that sweats and exercises a lot.
  • Avoid prints and florals in human-made materials as they tend to fade more quickly and look cheap.
  • If you’re like me and love to wear a lot of black (see bullet point #1), avoid items made out of darkly dyed cotton (t-shirts, jeans) as they tend to fade quickly. Instead, opt for black clothes in silk, wool or bamboo which retain their lovely richness wash after wash. I personally love black linen clothes (due to it being a loose-weave cotton fabric), but I minimize purchasing them since they too will fade over time.
  • Reduce how much you use your washing machine. Between this time-saving appliance alone, your clothes go through a literal wringer. Not only does using a washing machine for one year use the average amount of water that one person will drink in their lifetime, but unless you’re using biodegradable soap, you are also polluting the water reservoir with nasty chemicals. Since most of the clothes I own now are made of natural materials and are therefore more delicate, I tend to hand wash them in the sink with room temperature water using Eucalan- a soap that is safe for all fabrics and doesn’t require any rinsing. This might sound like a lot of work, but it’s really easy for me to fill up my bathroom sink with water, put in a capful of Eucalan and let the item soak for as long as I feel is necessary (a completely arbitrary amount of time).
  • Reduce how much you use your dryer. Your electrical bill will thank you, and your clothes will have a nice, fresh smell if you hang them up outside or on your porch instead of drying them. Also, hang-drying ensures absolutely no shrinkage and eliminates the need to purchase dryer-sheets! Yes, it takes a few minutes extra to hang them up instead of toss the bundle in the dryer, but now that it’s part of my normal laundry routine, I barely even think twice about it. This way also reduces the existence of wrinkles since everything is hanging up to begin with and doesn’t get forgotten in a twisted mess in the dryer.
  • Buy second-hand whenever possible and avoid fast-fashion. Lucky for you and me, it’s now trendy and socially acceptable to buy used clothing. Gone are the negative associations with thrift-stores, ’cause vintage is in, baby! Levi’s even came out recently with a new second-hand store where they’re re-selling old jeans and jackets, and they will accept your used, and even damaged items at select stores and give you a gift card in exchange. Considering that denim is one of the most water-intensive fabrics to create and dye, this is a major win for your pocket book and the planet. See my other post for more great places to shop secondhand.