Green fashion: how to keep your clothes eco-friendly

If you care about the environment but you also love fashion, you don’t have to choose between them! Here are a few tips to help out eco-conscious fashionistas:

Buy things you love

Nowadays it’s regarded as completely normal to change outfits as soon as you’ve been photographed once, but this throw-away culture is having a serious impact on the planet. According to sustainability charity Global Action Plan, 7.5 million items of clothing end up in landfill each year – but it doesn’t have to be that way.

When buying clothes, look for enduring classics that flatter your figure, rather than following trends that might not complement either your style or your shape! Instead of chucking things that don’t sit right, research local seamstresses and see if they can help your clothes become perfectly-fitted treasures you’ll adore for years. You can still ring the changes by building up a wardrobe of easily matched-up items, buying occasional statement pieces and using accessories intelligently. If you always buy quality, then even when you tire of your tops, you can guarantee a good trade for them at a clothes swap

Recycle

There are many ways to recycle existing garments and swapping, donating them to charity shops and buying from vintage boutiques are just the start. It’s sometimes surprising what delights you can find among your family’s discarded wardrobes, once you start to view them as heirlooms rather than hand-me-downs.

You could also consider ‘upcycling’ clothes that have lost their allure. You can have great fun re-invigorating your own wardrobe by breaking garments down to their component parts and recombining, especially if you incorporate new embellishments. If this is beyond your skills, look out for the many upcycled items now available from Oxfam.

Choose eco-friendly fabrics

There’s a cornucopia of new and interesting ecologically sound fabrics out there, from rayons or organic cottons, all the way through to exciting new innovations in plastics recycling. Look out for natural dyes, recycled materials, non-chemical, non-polluting closed loop manufacturing processes and natural fibres that have been grown without pesticides. It’s not about creating a rustic hippy look – some of today’s favourite high-performance fabrics are surprisingly green. Get into the habit of reading the label or checking the fabric details before you buy, and look out for the EU’s ‘flower’ Ecolabel for reassurance on a whole range of ecological concerns.

Handle with care

How you care for the garments you already own can make a huge difference ecologically. Carefully follow any washing instructions – natural fabrics in particular may need cool or hand washing and to be naturally air-dried. Always choose a ‘green’ laundry detergent, preferably concentrated, to avoid harmful chemicals and minimise the resources used in packing and transportation. Similarly, an eco-friendly Beko washing machine from Littlewoods could make all the difference to your energy bill, with older designs tending to use excessive water and power.

Whenever you do laundry, make the most of the resources you’re using by only putting on full loads. If you habitually use longer cycles, try minimising your impact by switching to shorter programmes and lower temperatures. Start with a cool, quick wash and gently increase time and temperature until you find one that works. With just a little TLC, you can make sure your clothes are as green as they are gorgeous!