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How to Clear Out Your Wardrobe Sustainably

Fashion /


Samata Pattinson gives her top tips for an eco-friendly clothes clearout

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Clean up your wardrobe like a pro, with the help of Samata Pattinson in this month’s Little Green Book column. By Lisa Grainger 

B/W headshot of Samata Pattison

Ask the charismatic Samata Pattinson, CEO of Red Carpet Green Dress, why we need to think about what we wear and her response is emphatic: ‘Because the world is on fire and we need to put it out, by reducing our carbon footprint.’ Here she shows us how to rethink our wardrobes, one step at a time.

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  • PiC black jumpsuit

    1. Consider what sustainability means to you

    Sustainability is multi-faceted, and you can’t do it all. Some people think recycling is better than upcycling, others say clothing produced locally results in less carbon than organic, imported items. Do your research and stick to it, whether that’s buying only vegan leathers, or vintage, or plant-dyed organic fabrics. Hackney jumpsuit, from £200. pic-style.com

    TRY: Clothes from PiC Style, Study 34 and Beaumont Organic

  • Fashionopolis by Dana Thomas

    2. Start to think in a different way

    We are all overbuying clothes: last year, about 7.4 million pieces of clothing were purchased for festivals, and £2.7 billion was spent on summer outfits – most of which were worn just once. Everyone needs to ask why they’re buying something; it’s possibly the most important question of all. If everyone going to a wedding next year wore a thrifted outfit, over 700 million kg of CO2 emissions could be saved. That’s a lot.

    READ: Eco Fashion by Sass Brown (Laurence King, £29.99) and Fashionopolis by Dana Thomas (Head of Zeus, £9.99)

  • Thought orange striped jumper knitwear

    3. Don’t buy stuff that harms the planet – and you

    Polyester is made from petroleum and in a landfill it will take 1,000 years to disintegrate. Some dyes are not only carcinogenic but also linked to infertility. And some pesticides don’t just kill insects but also cause the emission of GHG nitrous oxide. So it’s vital you look at the label. An Oeko-Tex or a GOTS certification is a good start. Thought Sail la Vie striped wool knit jumper, £32. wearethought.com

    TRY: Clothing from Thread Tales Company, People Tree, Mara Hoffman, Thought and Komodo

  • Woman with shopping bags

    4. Don’t think you can just dump your old kit on charity shops

    Every year, mountains of unwanted clothing arrive in Africa and end up as landfill. If you buy something, know where it’s ending up: your waste is your responsibility.

    TRY: eBay, clothes swaps, and reselling apps like Depop. Or give to local people in need, through Re-Fashion, Smart Works and Dress for Success.

  • Nudie Jeans tie-dye sweater

    5. Make your clothing last

    Check the quality of each item you buy and ask if the company will mend it in future. Patagonia will, as will Nudie Jeans and Levi’s. Nudie Jeans Bibbi special dye multi, £100. nudiejeans.com

    TRY: Patching, customising, re-hemming and adding new buttons. When jeans are destroyed, turn them into shorts, and repurpose old T-shirts into cloths and dusters.

Photos: Unsplash / @freestocks; @charlesdeluvio

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