How to Dress Sustainably [2020 Guide to Sustainable Fashion]

January 29, 2020

The fashion industry is one of the most polluting in the world, maybe not the second as often touted but pretty polluting none-the-less. Really though, why should we care more about fashion production than any of the other polluting industries? 

Well maybe we shouldn’t, but truth be told there are some things you and I as normal consumers have a lot more power over. We might have trouble lobbying against production of agrochemicals and cement but we can definitely stand to make better choices when it comes to purchasing clothing.

So where to start..

Clothes you already have?

sorting clothes pile

What to do with clothes you already have that have already reached their natural lifespan? The best place to start is with a bit of organisation.


Sort the clothes into sellable, giveaway-able and recyclable, all your old clothes should fit into one of these categories based on the value and condition with most valuable and best condition items being more suitable for sale and ripped low value items being ready for recycling. Once you’ve got your piles get to work!


Buying and selling preloved clothes is growing hugely in popularity, 21x faster than retail apparel in fact. This growing market means there’s never been a better time to polish your smartphone camera and start listing.

Apps like depop, ebay, vinter and more are all popular marketplaces where you can find a new home for once loved items and earn some extra money to boot!


Donating clothes is definitely one thing that will never go out of fashion. Whether that’s through donating clothes as hand me downs to relatives or dropping off clothes at a local charity shop. Lets weigh up the options:

  • Taking clothes to a local charity shop - one of the best options, raising money for a charitable cause and also finds a home for your old clothes
  • Taking clothes a clothes bank - this may be more convenient for you but these repositories can occasionally be thieved from and vandalised.
  • There are also door-to-door collections, just ensure these are actually charitable collections where all the collections will be headed to a charity shop.


If your clothes are in a sorry state, with rips and tares that don’t make them fit for selling on or giving away your last option is to recycle. Use our quick guide to recycling clothes below:

  • Check first to see if your local council can recycle the textiles you wish to recycle, remember some items will be a mix of materials which means they will be more of a challenge to recycle.
  • Don’t throw your clothes in general recycling, they can clog up the machinery in recycling plants.
  • A quick search on google will show you your nearest recycling point for textiles.
  • Textiles can be recycled into a number of items including cushion covers, cleaning cloths and even other clothes.

Purchasing clothes


Purchasing clothes can be pretty complex, a number of factors go into how sustainable an item is. From sourcing the materials to shipping, disposal and of course how long the clothes last, it’s not always all that simple!

Check our quick 5 point guide to buying clothes to make sure you’re making the most sustainable choices when doing your shopping.


1. Buying preloved

Pre-loved clothes can be bought at a number of places but why not start with where we donated clothes, buying shops from a charity shop is a great way to give old clothes a new lease of life whilst supporting a great cause.


2. Buying less


“...on average, brits spend £1042 on new clothes per year”

Source: Harpers Bazaar 

With big clothing spenders only wearing on average 59% of their wardrobe regularly there’s never been a better time to reassess your clothes shopping habits. 

One great question to ask yourself to avoid unnecessary spending on clothes is will I wear this piece 30 times? If the answer is yes then by all means go ahead but you’ll often find this simple question will stop you making many frivolous clothes purchases.

3. Shop sustainably

Whilst some brands eco-credentials are questionable to say the least and often nothing more than a marketing ploy (see our post on greenwashing). Some brands are worth their salt when it comes to sustainability.

Check out this list of 35 sustainable brands over on thegoodtrade.

Note: Patagonia is a favourite of ours at Soseas HQ.


4. Choose quality over quantity

This follows on from the previous point but when purchasing new clothes it’s best to avoid fast fashion and instead opt for fewer high quality pieces. Whilst the initial cost might be more often cheaper items are a false economy as they may only last a few wears before reaching the end of their lifespan.


5. Reuse and repair

Following the principles of being low-waste namely reduce, reuse and recycle one of the key principles is to reuse where you can. This extends to fashion, many items can be patched and sewn back together to give them a new lease of life and extend their wearable lifespan.

That’s our complete guide to wearing and buying clothes sustainably, hopefully with this guide you can take control of your wardrobe and it’s impact. 

Let us know of your favourite tips to being sustainable when it comes to fashion below.

guide to sustainable fashion

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