How to Dress Ethically in 2023

As fashion designers and consumers, we have a lot of weight to carry on our shoulders when it comes to climate change. To lay down the facts, the fashion industry is responsible for more than 80% of all CO2 emissions globally each year. The second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply which produces 17-20% of all wastewater? Yep, fashion. While the world’s top polluter may be the oil industry, fashion is in second place. Breath in, exhale.

Living in these unprecedented times can feel overwhelming and frightening, with many of us not knowing what we can do as ordinary people. However, by changing our habits, we can help shift demand towards ethical and sustainable fashion, encouraging manufacturers and brands to make positive changes. 

So, how can we change our habits? With some new rules to live by and most importantly, patience. Remember that we are only human, and striving for perfection will only leave us feeling like failures. Instead, focus on setting some goals that are realistically achievable. To help you get started, we’ve put together this guide with 6 ways to dress more ethically.

1. Secondhand & Vintage Clothing

The last few years have seen a massive rise in secondhand fashion, with more vintage stores and charity shops popping up on our highstreets, as well as online giants like eBay, Vinted, and Depop growing in popularity. Buying old rather than new has many benefits, like massively reducing your carbon footprint, reducing landfill waste, making your style more unique, and cutting costs. If you need some secondhand style inspo to switch up your lifestyle, there are an abundance of influencers and digital creators out there who prove that you can still achieve head-turning looks without buying new. Type these into your Instagram and TikTok search bars to fill your feed with inspiration: @thriftqueenlola  @elinorcharlotte  @theflippside

2. Organic Cotton and Non-toxic Dyes

When you’re about to make a new purchase, always check the label first. You may have already noticed that many designers and high street brands like ZARA have started using organic cotton in their clothing, as well as materials like recycled cotton and polyester. Organic cotton is all the rage right now because its natural farming methods combat climate change. It also requires less water, protects water from harmful chemicals, supports farmers and local communities by providing a stable source of income, and gives agency to farmers rather than GM (genetically modified) companies. 

Our handbags are threaded with 100% biodegradable Prima cotton that is GOTS certified. On the inside, our bags are lined with organic Tencel cotton, whereby the water and chemicals used in the manufacturing process are almost 100% recycled. We also only use low-impact dyes – yes, even the vibrant colourways of the Thais – that don’t require farmland, harmful fertilizing , insect control, and use less water.

3. Rent, Repeat & Repair

Do you have a formal event like a wedding in your 2023 diaries? Save yourself some money by renting your outfit or rewearing an old favourite, instead of splashing out on something you’ll wear once and afterward bury it in your wardrobe never to be seen again (we’re all guilty). Even celebrities are making a sustainable stand and outfit-repeating or wearing vintage garments. Just think of actress Zendaya, who has turned to vintage for multiple red-carpet occasions, wearing the likes of vintage Valentino and Balmain. 

Editorial Imagery by Wear My Wardrobe Out

Zero-waste businesses like Wear My Wardrobe Out offer a renting service offering stunning handpicked vintage, custom-made, and upcycled fashion pieces. If you have something that needs fixing, like a broken zip, or maybe you want to make some alterations and revamp an old dress, Wear My Wardrobe Out also offers alterations and repairs so that you don’t need to create waste by binning it.

Stay tuned for Part 2

Bringing 3 more ways to dress ethically.

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