Dressing more “sustainably” sounds great in theory, but it’s hard to know where to even begin. There is so much information floating around and endless options to consider (Should I buy regular cotton or organic? Is silk fabric really okay?), that the well-intended idea can quickly become an all too daunting task. But that doesn’t mean you should give up. With Earth Day just around the corner, here’s your no-stress guide to simple (and sustainable) style hacks.
Keep scrolling for five easy ways you can reduce your fashion footprint today.
It’s probably not feasible to revamp your entire wardrobe all at once, but upgrading your accessories is a simple and cost-effective place to start. From timeless, designer jewelry staples (like the Bamboo Collection by John Hardy), to handmade artisan pieces (we love The Little Market by Lauren Conrad), there are plenty of options from brands with a conscious. Plus, wearing a statement-making, handmade collectible is always a guaranteed conversation piece.
The Little Market Bohemian Market Basket in Black ($64)
Melissa Joy Manning 14-Karat Gold Diamond Earrings ($250)
Stella McCartney Cavandish Zip-Embellished Faux Leather Clutch ($1035)
The tag on your clothing is your new best friend. Look out for fabrics that are blends and may not be truly certified organic and sustainable, as well as for ones with chemically processed dyes. Steer clear of those and instead opt for some of these popular natural fibers.
Breathable cotton is always a great option for the warmer months. Look for pieces made with organic cotton, which means it was farmed without the usual chemicals.
Small Trades Classic Striped ¾ Sleeve Shirt ($70)
Not only does hemp provide warmth, but the textile is so versatile that it can be used across a variety of products from shoes to pants.
Eisleen Fisher Hemp & Organic Cotton Wide Leg Ankle Pants in Black ($148)
Known for being soft and comfortable, bamboo is often used as an alternative to cotton, as the plant is so fast-growing, making it easy to replenish.
Base Range Mississippi Bra ($48)
This sturdy fabric (it has twice the strength of cotton!) is super-breathable, making it a cool choice for those dog days of summer.
ASOS A-Line Linen Mini Skirt ($36)
A more luxurious choice, silk is of course made au naturale by the silkworm, plus it’s also credited to having some antimicrobial properties. If you’re looking for a cruelty-free option that doesn’t kill silkworms in the process, consider brands that use what’s called Peace Silk, a process that allows the animals to live a full life cycle.
Amour Vert Benita Dress in Bubble Print ($220)
Made from recycled beech wood fibers, Tencel is known not only for its superlative softness, but also for its breathability.
H&M V-neck Lyocell Blouse ($50)
With a few little changes, you can make your weekly washings more energy-efficient and chemical-free. Good practices including washing on cold (it requires less energy to heat water), only washing full loads (to save on water—especially important in drought-plagued like California), letting a garment hang-dry when you can, and using a phosphate-free detergent and chlorine-free bleach. Also, when it comes to dry cleaning, look into wet cleaning services, which offer a non-toxic and environmentally safe alternative.
Household Essentials Folding Wood Clothes Drying Rack ($20)
Luckily, it’s now becoming more and more common for brands to reveal the factories behind their fashions. Companies like Everlane, Zady, Helpsy, Ethica, and Kowtow are committed to providing transparency, so you know you’re shopping from factories of integrity with solid construction, the best materials, the lowest environmental footprint and the highest labor standards.
Kowtow Evolution Dress in Going Circles Print ($215)
Cut down on constant consumption by shopping vintage. Sites like Vaunte or Vestiaire Collective offer high-end designer options, while other brands—like The Reformation or Christy Dawn—design their collections using reclaimed fabrics. Want to get into the habit of recycling your own clothes? Sell once-loved pieces at local secondhand stores or through apps, like thredUP.
Christy Dawn The Winslet Dress in White Floral ($330)