Sustainable fashion: 5 questions to ask yourself before buying new clothes

The fashion industry is one of the worst for its negative impact on the environment. It takes roughly 1800 gallons of water to produce a new pair of jeans, and synthetic materials such as polyester can take up to 200 years to decompose in landfill. If you are looking to reduce how many new items of clothing you purchase, here are five questions to ask yourself before buying new clothes.

“Do I really need it?”

  • Ask yourself why you are buying the item. Is it because you want it or because you need it?
  • Ask yourself how many other items in your wardrobe are similar. If you already have something similar,
  • Consider whether your emotions are influencing your spending habits – will buying this item really make you feel better?
  • Sleep on it for a week. You haven’t owned it until this point so you can live without it for another seven days. If you still need it in a week’s time, you’re ready to purchase it.

“How often will I wear it?”

  • Livia Firth created the #30Wears campaign – an initiative to ask yourself whether you will wear the item thirty times. If you will, then go ahead and buy it.
  • Consider whether you already own items that you can this item with, or if this purchase will prompt you to buy a new bag, jacket and pair of shoes to wear with it.
  • Consider the style and colour of the item – will it date quickly or is it an item you’ll continue to wear in years to come?

“Could I find this item secondhand?”

  • Before making a purchase, search reselling apps to see if you can buy the same or a similar item secondhand. 
  • Purchasing secondhand means giving an item a new lease of life and doing your bit to reduce your carbon footprint too.
  • Many items sold secondhand have only been worn a few times and are good quality.
  • You might not find exactly the same item as the new alternative, but you’ll probably find something very similar which is just as suitable – and often much cheaper!
  • Check sites like eBay, Depop, Vinted, Facebook Marketplace, Shpock
  • If you’ve got the time, check local charity shops and vintage stores too.

“Is it made from sustainable fabric?”

  • Fabrics like acrylic, polyester, nylon and viscose have negative impacts on the environment due to the way they are sourced. These fabrics contain microplastics which are released into the environment every time they are washed. They can take up to 200 years to decompose when they inevitably end up in landfill. 
  • Instead, choose sustainable fabrics like organic cotton, linen, bamboo, hemp & tencel, which generally require less resources to create and break down much faster than synthetic fibres (around 5 years max).

“Who made these clothes?”

  • Consider the person at the end of the supply chain working in the garment factory. it was this person who tacked the hems of the item, who embroidered the pattern on it, who sewed each sequin to it.
  • Ask yourself whether you can easily find out whether this person was paid fairly, whether the conditions they work in are fair, and whether they have access to unions.

If you can still justifying a new item after asking yourself all of these questions, this is probably a sign that you should purchase the new item. But asking yourself these five questions before purchasing something new will be sure to help you have a more sustainable approach to fashion in the future!

Related: 20 Sustainable Fashion Tips for an Ethical Wardrobe

Sustainable fashion: 5 questions to ask yourself before buying new clothes
Wearing my mum’s old Levi’s jeans – they are around 25 years old!
Sustainable fashion: 5 questions to ask yourself before buying new clothes
Wearing my treasured vintage coat I found in a charity shop for £12!

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One response to “Sustainable fashion: 5 questions to ask yourself before buying new clothes”

  1. I love the content you posted, it is always super helpful and informative. Keep posting such an amazing article, I love reading all your blogs.


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