Guide to Your Sustainable Zero Waste Wardrobe

Zero Waste

Many of us have come to view clothing as a disposable resource – something to be bought, used briefly, and discarded. This is largely due to the rise of fast fashion which encourages this mindset, but never in the history of humanity have we had such a short-sighted collective mindset about the garments we wear.
If we hope to reduce the amount of waste, it’s important that we take it back a few decades with our mindset and embrace sustainable fashion and its innovations. Whether you’re already on a journey towards a zero waste lifestyle, or want to get started at your wardrobe this guide will provide you with everything you need to know to get started.

What is a zero waste wardrobe & how to create it

Organizing your zero waste wardrobe
First, you may be asking yourself: what is a zero waste wardrobe? Just like other areas of the household, a zero waste wardrobe has the ultimate goal of sending absolutely no waste to the landfill. This can sometimes seem like a goal that’s very far away in today’s world, so it’s important to focus on the individual steps and changes.
At its core, creating a zero waste wardrobe means we need to shift our view and start seeing clothing as items that are made to be kept in rotation. It’s also important to consider the whole supply chain since over 1/3 of the materials in the supply chain end up as waste (Common Objective)! Another important aspect of a zero waste wardrobe is the use of either natural fabrics which naturally degrade if discarded or recycled materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

The staples you should invest in your zero waste wardrobe

There are some items you wear all the time – and it’s important to invest in these to ensure they’ll last you for years or decades. While this is largely individual, since every one of us has a different lifestyle and aesthetic, there are some pieces that will likely be staples in everyone’s wardrobe.
A good pair of jeans in your favorite cut, a white t-shirt, a pair of everyday comfy shoes, and a quality winter coat are some of the examples. We highly recommend that you buy these from slow sustainable fashion brands which put quality at the forefront and offer services such as free repairs for life, which will ensure the garment truly will last you for decades despite you wearing it regularly.
This may seem like a big investment, but it’s important to keep in mind that it will pay off in the long run, as you won’t have to replace the garment for a very long time.

5 tips to get you started

Aside from buying some high-quality wardrobe staples, there are also some other tips that can help you kickstart your zero waste wardrobe – pick these up one at a time and make sure they become habits!

Zero Waste Wardrobe #1: Fix your broken clothing

simply sewing can help you maintain your zero waste wardrobe
When a piece of clothing you own breaks, don’t throw it away! Instead, fix it. Learn to sew up small holes and make similar minor repairs. For more complex repair or alterations, take the garment to a specialist.

Tip Number 2: Always avoid virgin synthetics

Synthetic fabrics are made from plastic – this means that they not only create plastic waste when discarded, but they also release microscopic plastic particles into the wastewater whenever washed!
Avoid these a choose natural fabrics or recycled materials instead.

Zero Waste Wardrobe #3: Shop second-hand

A great way to prevent clothing from ending up in the landfill is by shopping second-hand. This is especially great if you’re on a budget or need a specific piece of clothing you know you likely won’t be wearing too many times.
Aside from physical thrift stores, there are also many online options nowadays, so look through thrifting apps or sites which offer pre-loved sustainable fashion!

Resell, donate or repurpose your unused clothing

Donate your unworn clothes
Your wardrobe now likely isn’t zero waste – which means that you’ll likely arrive at a point when you’ll sort out a bunch of fast fashion garments you no longer like or that no longer fit. It’s very important to dispose of these responsibly.
Reselling it directly is often best, as it ensures the garment will actually be worn by someone else. Donating is also a great option, but the sad truth is that not all donated clothing is actually repurposed, resold, or recycled and may still end up in a landfill. Lastly, you may also want to find another purpose for it, such as cutting up an old shirt into rags.

Last but not the least, Compost natural fabrics

Lastly, don’t forget that natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, or hemp can be added to your compost! If they’re beyond salvation, compost them rather than sending them to the landfill.

Honorable mention: Support zero waste and sustainable brands

Nowadays, there are many clothing and fashion brands that are making the most out of their products. Many brands have become more and more aware of their influences on the environment. In fact, there are a handful of sustainable brands that strive to be zero waste, if you have a chance maybe support them.

Let’s fix our wardrobe!

Let’s create our zero waste wardrobe together! Not only are you saving money and making a difference, but you can also easily make sure you are wearing all of your clothes. Less clutter and perfect your own capsule wardrobe that has an eco-friendly spin. If you are curious to know about zero waste wardrobe or even zero waste fashion brands here are some options. Or learn more about how you can achieve zero waste home!

Common Objective. Fashion and Waste: An Uneasy Relationship. 8 June 2018,
Author: Monica Chang
On my own ethical journey since 2010. Always happy to learn more!