The move to sustainable fashion brands can be daunting but as with most things in life, it’s easier and more likely to succeed if you have support along the way.
Any significant lifestyle alteration is going to need time to bed in, but just like turning vegan, it’s a lot less difficult to commit to sustainable shopping practices if your whole household is on board. You’d like to assume that if you are in a relationship with somebody that they share your core ethics, but if there is a bit of resistance, here are some uncomplicated ways to ditch fast fashion as a couple.
Start gently, with a wardrobe audit
Coaxing your significant other into a fashion overhaul won’t be a straightforward task but a simple way to get started is with an objective wardrobe audit. We all know the rules by now, but just to refresh the memory:
If it hasn’t been worn in six months, don’t keep it.
If you haven’t missed it, don’t keep it.
If it’s more than three months old, still has the tags attached and no specific function in mind, don’t keep it.
You then need to sort the discard pile into sell, donate and recycle. Anything at the definite end of its life should be recycled. Items you no longer wear but that are in good condition, you could donate. Anything fairly new or worth good money, sell online and set the funds aside for when a replacement piece needs buying.
Try to remember that you are clearing out at this stage, not making space for new items.
Replace only when necessary
One of the drawbacks of shopping sustainably is that individual pieces cost more. There’s no getting away from this fact and having a conversation about cost versus value is essential. Of course, fair labor, ethical materials and durability incur a higher price tag but think about the positive effect you are implementing, as well as the reduced frequency with which you’ll need to replace your garments. Does it balance out? That comes down to personal opinions, but buying a new £3 polyester t-shirt every month, or a single £30 organic cotton one that will only get better with age seems like a simple equation to solve.
With a wardrobe audit completed, you’ll be able to see where you have gaps in your everyday choices, sourcing new pieces accordingly. It’s always a fantastic foray into the ethical sphere to use clothing entirely until it is no longer of any practical value. So, a favorite t-shirt might get relegated to sleepwear once it’s a little tatty. From here, it might become a decorating top and eventually, dust rags. Once a demotion has taken place, you can legitimately look to source a replacement.
Start with like-for-like
Another way to counter the immediate sting of shopping with the environment prioritized over cheapness is to begin by replacing items, like-for-like. When a jumper gives up the ghost, but a new, sustainably-made jumper. When jeans no longer fit how you’d like or get too threadbare, buy new jeans. Wave goodbye to a faithful item and replace it in kind, but with something geared towards more than just a monetary budget. The reduced frequency of your purchases will, even if it doesn’t feel like it at first, offset the overall increase in prices.
Look at interchangeable pieces
Wardrobe sharing is nothing new. Couples have been sharing clothes for generations, but it suddenly has a name. Subscribing to a sharing economy within your household will reduce the need for extraneous clothes, remove gender attributes from eth dialogue and create a far more egalitarian vibe.
Obviously, this will depend on you being able to wear a similar size to your partner, but even something as simple as a baggy shirt that you share reduces your consumption by one whole item. If you have the same size feet, that’s when you’re really in luck.
Revisit the message
As time passes, you’ll forget that you are trying something new. A habit will have been formed and you’ll have a few go-to brands that you like, trust and want to support. One day, you’ll open your wardrobe and notice the existential change that has been put into place and that’s when you need to remind yourself why you started.
In place of disposable jeans with more elastic than cotton in them, you’ll maybe see sustainable Japanese denim, made by people earning a good wage. Where cheap, throwaway tops once hung you’ll find a sea of organic cotton and recycled polyester. The temptation to add just a few ‘statement pieces’ will be hard to resist, but by taking your time, replacing not oversubscribing and considering your fashion choices and by doing it as a couple, your impact is gargantuan.
What you might not realize is that joining forces in this way will naturally spill out into other areas of your life together. You might start buying different detergents, washing at 30°, air drying and even wearing for longer.
The couple that shops sustainably together stays together. There’s no better motivation than that.