Wardrobes are made to last. Purchasing a high-quality piece of clothing or accessory is an investment that will last you many years and in some cases decades. One way to ensure your investment lasts as long as possible is to buy items that provide longevity in a sustainable wardrobe. There are two major ways sustainability can impact your wardrobe: quality and longevity.
Quality can be measured by the materials used in the garment and how they were made (e.g., organic cotton). Longevity can be measured by how well something wears down over time, or how long it will stay in good condition before needing repairs or replacing (e.g., leather). These are just two ways to gauge whether something is sustainable or not, but below are some additional factors that might make you consider investing in more environmentally friendly pieces of clothing for yourself, your family, or your home.
Why Buy Sustainable Clothes?
There are multiple reasons why buying sustainable goods can benefit you. For starters, investing in sustainable clothing and products helps keep the environment greener and clean. It also saves you money in the long run because there is less risk of purchasing an item that will break down or wear out quickly. And finally, it might be a better investment than spending your money on something that might only last a few years.
These are just some of the benefits of buying sustainable goods, but many other advantages exist.
How to Buy a Sustainable Piece of Clothing
When shopping for a sustainable piece of clothing, it’s important to keep in mind that not all businesses prioritize sustainability. It may be worth investing in a more expensive piece of clothing or accessory if you’re confident that the quality and longevity are worth the investment.
For example, a pair of khakis might not last as long as your favourite pair of jeans because they might not have been designed with longevity in mind. It’s important to educate yourself about different brands and what they do well so you can find something you’ll love that lasts as long as possible.
Some questions to ask when looking for sustainable pieces are:
- Where was the product made?
- What materials (i.e. recycled materials) were used?
- Do natural resources play a role in how it was made?
- How fast does the item go through its lifespan?
What Materials Are Sustainable?
The first factor to consider in terms of sustainability is the materials used to create a piece of clothing, such as how durable they are. Some materials, like organic cotton, are more sustainable because they can be grown without using pesticides or herbicides on the soil. For example, organic cotton is grown without using synthetic pesticides and can live up to two years longer than regular cotton. The most sustainable materials are those that are renewable, recyclable and biodegradable—which means they won’t harm the environment if you decide not to use them anymore.
If you’re wondering what items you should be conscious of in your closet that is sustainable and help the environment, here’s a list of some popular options:
- Organic cotton
- Recycled polyester
- Recycled wool
- Biodegradable plastics
What Items Can Last for Years and Years?
There are lots of ways to measure clothing longevity. Some things that might seem like they would last a long time are actually not as durable as you think.
Some outfits can last for years and years without needing repairs or replacements, such as wool sweaters. Other items that might seem like they wouldn’t last long could actually last for many years, such as jean jackets or velvet coats.
Another way to measure longevity is by how well something wears down over time. If an item starts to wear down after just a few months, it’s not likely to be sustainable. But if it lasts for at least six months before any signs of wear and tear appear, then it’s more likely to be sustainable.
It can also be hard to determine the age of your clothing (e.g., how old is that shirt?), but there are some general rules you can follow when trying to guess the age of an item:
- If something has been worn in places where skin rubs against it (e.g., the elbows), then it probably isn’t very old.
- If something is made from a natural fibre (e.g., cotton) rather than synthetics (e.g., polyester)
Factors to Consider when Purchasing Sustainable Items
- Quality of materials. Look for items made with sustainable, fair trade, or organic fibres that are high quality and last longer.
- Durability. Many sustainable garments have a longer lifespan than their traditional counterparts because of the quality of materials used in their construction. While you might have to invest more money upfront for these types of pieces, you’ll save in the long run by not having to replace them as often.
- Sustainability benefits. Buying items that are sustainable will help your business and your community at large by avoiding negative impacts on the environment and supporting local economies instead.
- Price point. It’s worth thinking about what a product will cost you overall if it is made with environmentally friendly materials versus one made with traditional ones. Generally speaking, the price point will reflect how much better the garment is for you over time due to the longevity and quality it offers.
Pros and Cons of Buying Sustainable Items
- Pros: Sustainability is good for the environment. Buying items that are sustainably sourced helps you to reduce your carbon footprint. Sustainability can also help you save money as well, as more popular brands tend to cost less than their non-sustainable counterparts.
- Cons: When buying something sustainable, there are often tradeoffs between quality and price. For example, a sustainable item might be made of lower quality material than a non-sustainable one, which may result in it wearing out faster. On the other hand, if you’re willing to spend more on a trendy and fashionable purchase, you’ll get something that’s even longer-lasting and better made; these items may take some time to break in or require repairs over time as well.
What do you think? Is investing in sustainability worth it for you?