I’m a big fan of the carefully edited closet, for a lot of reasons. Recently, though, I’ve been thinking in particular about how a carefully curated closet is good for the planet. We tend to think about “green” wardrobes in terms of their fabrics — organic cottons, for example. But in the bigger picture, the actual fabrics are only a tiny piece of the picture. How you shop and care for your clothes is what really matters when you’re going green.
Make the planet — and your closet — a better place with these five simple strategies.
Identify your style. Is your closet a mishmash of styles and shapes and sizes? The first step in creating a green closet is to create a look for yourself, one that you can return to over and over and over. Choose a style that works for your body and your life and stick with it; edit your closet down to just those pieces that really work for you. In other words, start with a wardrobe of pieces you’re really going to wear.
Invest in your closet. Make a commitment to only buying the best you can afford. I’m not saying that you should go into debt to have beautiful clothes; what I am saying is don’t cheap out just to save a buck. Save the environment — and your wardrobe — instead by buying pieces that will last. This means classic, quality items that are made to last forever, not just for one season.
Reuse, renew, restyle. Once you’ve edited your closet down to just what you’re really wearing, work on restyling what you have. Make this a daily practice; rather than defaulting to the same exact outfit every time, try mixing things up. Think about how many ways you can wear that dress or tee or pair of jeans. Practice makes perfect; once you get good at restyling, you’ll be able to do it under pressure — like when you have a big event and start to feel like you absolutely must have something new to wear.
Shop less, shop better. Most of us shop for reasons other than need, and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing (I enjoy a good impulse buy as much as anyone) it’s not the best strategy for creating a green closet. Keep a running list of things you actually need (white tee, skinny jeans, navy blazer) — store that list in your wallet or on your phone. When you shop, focus on those pieces, rather than picking up yet another cable knit sweater or striped tee (ahem).
Launder with love. The final key to making your green closet sustainable is laundry. Don’t just toss your clothes in the washer and dryer; treat them gently and carefully. Hand wash whenever possible; dry clean as seldom as you can get away with. Your clothes will last longer and your carbon footprint will shrink substantially.
Want to learn more about creating a green closet? I’m partnering with Ecover at Mom 2.0, to help you think about just that. I’ll be offering laundry and styling tips during the conference, in person and via Facebook and Twitter, to help you use what you have to create a look that works for you and for the planet. If you’ll be in Miami, come visit with me about your pressing style questions; I’ll be tweeting my location every day of the conference, and will be happy to consult with you about whatever wardrobe dilemmas are on your mind.
Not coming to Miami? You can follow the conversation, at Mom 2.0 and beyond, by using the hashtag #greencloset — Tweet me your questions or concerns and tag them #greencloset, or follow the #greencloset tag to see the whole conversation. The nice people at Ecover will be popping in, too, with tips and tricks for your laundry and beyond.
We can start with how to wear a belt. Just for example.
Photo via Will Clayton/Flickr