Monday, September 6, 2010

4 Ways to Reduce Your Fashion Footprint

Marisa from
in a converted muumuu!!!

There seems to be a rather poignant discrepancy in the fashion community. For instance, when I Google sustainable fashion, I came up with some fashion school websites sponsored by Wal-mart. (Can you say ultra turn-off?) However, after some serious digging, there are only a very few well written articles out there on what sustainable fashion is and ought to be. I have been researching sustainable fashion for some time now, and there seem to be two schools of thought on what constitutes sustainable fashion

The first school believes sustainable fashion is possible through organic textiles, cruelty-free clothing, and products that are Fair Trade. These are all very valid ideas, and the brands that utilize these to the fullest extent are to be commended for taking steps forward for the future of the industry. However, these ideas aren't necessarily sustainable. Cotton is still a very high impact crop, with a single t-shirt requiring 400 gallons of water to produce. Is there a better way?

The second school of thought focuses on sustainability as the way, and fashion as the means. They focus on reusing the old to create the new, like Marisa with her blog at They shop thrift stores, because there are zero carbon emissions with buying used. They create beauty out chaos, by eliminating one more person's consumption habits in a world obsessed with the latest craze.

So what's a fashion loving girl to do? More than that even, what is a minimalist to do?! I claim to be a minimalist, but I love clothing. Are these things entirely contradictory? I don't believe so. To prove it, I'm going to tell you about what I'm doing to further eliminate my own fashion footprint and why it matters. If you haven't been here previously, you may not know I'm participating in the 100 thing challenge, and I don't think I should have to look like a bum in order to be a minimalist. Listed below are the clothing items of my 100 possessions. 

Bike pants
Bike top
Black cardigan
Black hoodie
Black lacy top
Black leggings
Black Long sleeve top
Black Pants
Black shorts
Black skirt
Black skirt
Black t shirt
Black tank
Black yoga pants
Blue half shirt
Blue tank
Bras (4)
Brown shirt
Cut shirt - as in one I cut up and personalized!
Cut shirt
Green tank
Grey cardigan
Jean Jacket
Jean shorts
Leather Jacket
Long black dress
Pajama bottoms
Plaid button up top
Puffy skirt
Red dress
Socks (10)
Stockings (4)
Strapless Dress
Strapless red top
T shirt
T shirt
T shirt
Tank top
Tank top
Tank top
Tank top
Thermal bottom
Thermal top
Thermal top
Underwear (20)
White button up top
White button up top
White hoodie
White long sleeve top
White sweater

Yes, clothing constitutes most of my 100 items, and I am okay with that. I've never really been all about the stuff, but I've always loved playing dress up. And I do play! I play dress up almost every time I leave the house. It makes me feel good, and it is fun! Not everyone feels the same way about fashion, but it has always been a returning passion for me. So, here is my solution to limiting the fashion footprint.

Reduce - Stop buying stuff. Especially stop buying clothing new. It's bad for the environment and your bank account. So many resources are wasted so we can have the latest trends; make a real statement by not following what every fashion marketer on the planet wants you to believe. 

Reuse - Don't totally forsake your wardrobe, unless you want to. Thrift store shop! You get the thrill of the hunt, especially if you go in with a general list of what you need. You'll be amazed at the incredible finds that exist out there, style-wise and price-wise. Or maybe join a clothing swap. They are fantastic. So, reuse! Embrace your hunter-gatherer instincts.

Remake - Turn something awful into something fabulous ala Marisa. Or, turn something that doesn't fit into something that is tailor made. Learn to sew, pick up a DIY t-shirt manual, or start hunting the internet. My only advice here: measure thrice, cut once. 

Recycle - When you're done with clothing you used to think was awesome, pass it on. Unless the piece is totally FUBAR, give it to your little sister or Goodwill or something. Sell it at a garage sale. Pass your love of fashion on!

I promise it really is that easy. Sustainable fashion doesn't have to be hard, it just means you have to learn some of those long forgotten hunting skills. Buy at Crazy's Sam's flea market and remake his grandma's old ballerina costume into your completely original prom dress. The sky is the limit, and creativity is your means to create beauty out of chaos.

How Big Is Your Clothing Footprint? (Environmental Footprints)       DIY Fashion: Customize and Personlize    Sew Subversive: Down & Dirty DIY for the Fabulous Fashionista


  1. It is exciting to read a blog written by a fellow Portlander! You have very interesting ideas, many of which I plan to give more thought too! I look forward to reading more!

  2. Thanks for reading! I look forward to writing more. :)