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10 Simple Tips to Live a More Sustainable Life

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After doing a great deal of research on the fashion industry, particularly fast fashion, I have a newfound respect for slow fashion and what it means to consume mindfully.

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1.  Shop & Donate Second Hand

One way to help keep fashion waste out of the landfills is by supporting your local charity & thrift shops.  By donating the articles that you no longer wear, it provides someone else an opportunity to enjoy it.

Purchasing second hand garments is a great way to be sustainable.  Often you can find great clothing in wonderful shape.  Not to mention, where else are you going to find that gem of a vintage finds?

If you happen to not find exactly what you are looking for there is always refashioning a piece of clothing, you find and turning it into what is in your mind’s eye.

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2.  Invest in Quality Over Quantity

It is better, both for the environment and your pocketbook, to invest in quality garments that will last years as opposed to buying fast fashion that often does not compare to the quality slow fashion and mindful sewing provides.

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3.  Minimalist Living & Capsule Wardrobes

A capsule wardrobe is great when you are trying to pare down and become more sustainable.  Simply put, it is a wardrobe of basics that mix and match with each other and do not go out of style.  Classic cuts and styles, nothing too trendy (though peppering in a few trends here is there is also fun), things like trousers, skirts, tees, sweaters, coats, and footwear.

Capsule wardrobes typically only contain about 30 articles of core closet essentials.

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4.  Fix What Can Be Mended

If you can mend it – do it.  It will help extend the life of your garment.  You can mend some items in ways that you would never know there had been a hole.  You can also so some visible mending with fun patches or Sashiko stitching for a design element.  Being sustainable and fashion forward for the WIN!

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5.  Invest in Clothing Brands That are Ethical

There are some amazing companies and solo entrepreneurs that really care about the environment.  You can find them online by researching their practices.

  • Do they use organic fabrics?
  • Where are they manufactured? By whom?  How?
  • Are they OEKO-TEX certified?
  • Are the fabrics they use recycled?
  • Are the materials they use compostable (i.e., not synthetic fabrics like polyester which stay in our landfills for quite some time)?
  • Are they fair trade?
  • Do they offer vegan options? (Hey, I love leather, but having a vegan option is also great)

You can support local Makers at your craft fairs or online, such as Etsy shops.  Really do your research before investing in a garment to fully understand where it is coming from and if they also support the values and sustainability you do.

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6.  Educate Yourself on Finding Sustainable Fabrics

By understanding the difference between fabrics can really help you live a sustainable lifestyle.  Fabrics that occur in nature such as flax, which is used to create linen, is a great choice.  These fabrics tend to breakdown easier in the environment than our man-made fibres.

There are natural fibres that are not so great for the environment.  Cotton is one of the worst offenders.  Though it can biodegrade at the end of its lifespan, it is one of the worst offenders of water intensive crops to rear.

Did you know that it takes 20,000 gallons of fresh water to make the cotton for a SINGLE pair of jeans?  There are cottons that use sustainable practices (look for OEKO-TEX certification).

Polyester, nylon and acrylic fabrics do not decompose and remain in our landfills for quite some time.  Considering and global plastic pandemic we are in polyester is one of the worst offenders in garment waste.

Did you know that every time you wash a polyester garment little microfibres are released into our water systems upsetting marine ecosystems?

Another fibre that is natural but also not so great for the environment is animal derived fibres such as leather, wool, and fur.  The reason they are not good for our sustainability is the amount of methane gas that is produced from livestock (i.e., their feces) is huge and methane is a greenhouse gas that is 20 times stronger than carbon dioxide.  As with cotton, there are sustainable methods of acquiring this as well, but if it came from a feed lot farm – chances are the animal was not granted a happy life.  The process of tanning leather is much different than it was 200 years ago.  We now use chromium for the tanning process, which is a very toxic chemical and often associated with cancer in workers in tanning facilities.  As for wool and fur, you can purchase sustainable varieties as well, but some companies use chemicals to preserve the wool that is toxic to our waterways – always do your research.

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7.  Reduce the Wear on Your Garments

Did you know that you do not need to wash your clothes every time you wear them?  Yes, you heard me right.  By reducing how often you wash your clothes you can extend the amount of time that your garments last.  Certainly, wash them if they are soiled, but if you wore a pair of trousers for a day and they are not dirty, hang them back up and wear them another time.

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8.  Become a Refashionista

If there is something in your wardrobe that you don’t really wear anymore but it is in good condition.  See if there is something you can do to refashion it.

Can that dress that was so cute 5 years ago but a little too short for you now be turned into a blouse?

It is so much fun to see what people can refashion their garments into.

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9.  Repurpose Old Clothes

On your journey to sustainability let’s not forget about the ‘3 Rs’ – Recycle, Reduce, & Reuse.  If an article of clothing has come to the end of its life, is there a way to repurpose it?  Perhaps you can turn it in to rags for cleaning.  Could a piece of a very old pair old jeans be used to create a patch for another pair to extend its lifespan?  Could the cut off hem of a dress you are shortening create a scrunchie to match your dress?

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10.  Be Mindful

Just by reading this and getting to the end fo the list you are taking your first steps into living a more sustainable lifestyle.  You do not have to do everything all at once, just taking one small step in the right direction makes a huge difference.

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I love to hear from you and you can subscribe to me at @SheerStitchery on Instagram and Sheer Stitchery on YouTube.

Until next time my fellow Makers, let’s get your sew-spiration on

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