How to Build an Eco-Friendly Wardrobe

6 Tips for Sustainable Style

Chalkboard: "We are one with nature"

Our precious Mama Earth provides sustenance to us in ways that are often taken for granted. Our waters, land, and clean air are not guaranteed, and a smaller environmental footprint can have a positive impact. No news there. You know it, and you’re likely mindful of recycling plastic containers and paper bags. Have you considered the ways your wardrobe can be more sustainable?

Sustainable clothing efforts go beyond taking outcast clothes to your nearby parking-lot clothing collection bin. In fact, most of these are owned by for-profit textile recycling companies. Often, the processes used to recycle the materials are not at all environmentally friendly.

What can you do to minimize the environmental impact of your style choices?

Here are a few tips to consider:

Think twice before tossing “broken” clothes from your closet. Missing buttons; unraveled hem stitching, and loosened seams can all be fixed. If you don’t feel skilled or teachable in the needle/thread department, make a fun barter with a friend who sews. Simple mends can put a solid garment back into your closet rotation for some fab outfits.

If you wore the shirt for a minute, it likely doesn’t need to be laundered. You’d be surprised how much water can be conserved, and detergents or dry cleaning chemicals kept out of groundwater. Think about the great blouse you put on for the 1-hour Zoom call. That one can go back on a hanger in your closet.

(Bonus tip: hang that once-worn item inside-out so you know it’s been on your body for a period of time.  At the end of the season, you can do a visual scan to assure all those once-or-more worn items get a good cleaning before seasonal storage when stains can set in.)

This can take multiple forms. Yes, a sock can become a dog toy. Also, a sweater can become a throw pillow cover or any number of things. Consider donating career clothes that are in good-condition, or planning a clothing swap with friends to exchange items you’re not wearing. (One woman’s “trash,” is another’s treasure.)

Put forgotten clothes into rotation. Most women are wearing 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time. Are there items you’ve forgotten about? Perhaps that cherry-colored tank top shoved to the back of your closet shelf has new potential when layered with the floral shirt you just bought. Explore new options that exist with old stand-bys.

You’re bored of that classic white shirt? Give it a fresh color to spice up its life. Use low-impact dyes that are Oeko-Tex® certified to minimize environmental effect. If you can benefit from an ecru color, put a good ole’ fashioned tea bag (or 3) in a bucket of water as a dye “color.” I do this myself from time to time, as pure white is not a flattering option for my personal coloring. I might find a great cotton top that’s white, then I make it “mine” with a black-tea fashion potion.

Consider your buying choices. Some fabrics are more sustainable than others. While synthetic fibers do break down over time (it can take 20-200 years in a landfill), natural fibers are overall more environmentally friendly. Still, take care not to assume that just because a fiber is natural that it’s your best choice. Manufacturing processes used to create fabrics from natural fibers can come with their own hazards. Shop styles and quality in garments that lead to longevity in your wardrobe. A slightly higher price tag now can translate to an investment that pays you back and does a world of good over time.

Small actions add up to big impact when multiplied by humans.
Put one new idea into practice this month, and share this list to inspire a friend!

For alternatives to those parking-lot collection boxes, check out this article from the archives: How to Keep Clothes Out of Landfills.

Questions? Comments? Let me know what’s on your mind. I read them all!

Want to learn more? Work with me.

Patty Buccellato, AICI, CIP

Patty Buccellato is an image coach and founder of Refined Images. She brings extensive knowledge and expertise to her work with private clients, as well as with corporate employee groups.

Patty established Refined Images in 1994, and while her studio is based in Rochester Hills, Michigan, you’ll find her serving clients throughout North America in their homes, offices (normally), and… well, currently on Zoom!
To get your FREE copy of Patty’s “How to Shop Like a Stylist,” visit or contact Patty.

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This entry was posted in Uncategorized, Wardrobe Maintenance, Wardrobe Planning & Auditing, Women's style & fashion. Bookmark the permalink.

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