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How to be stylish this year with the Earth in mind

Here are a few ways to ensure that your love of fashion and beauty isn’t contributing to the climate crisis in 2022. New year, less buying into industries renowned for being major culprits of ecological breakdown.

A week into 2022 and I’ve no doubt you’re dead set on sticking to those resolutions you made in preparation for what’s bound to be a better year than last.

While we tend to be obsessed with seasonal self-improvement, perhaps the only promises we should be making right now are those with the Earth in mind.

Faced with constant news of wildfires, droughts, floods, tornadoes, and melting ice shelves, the majority of us will be looking to tread lightly on the environment as we head into the coming months (unless you’re a world leader in denial, that is).

For this reason, I thought it fitting to address the fashion-and-beauty-obsessed among us, those seeking to be stylish this year, without buying into the industries we know are major culprits of ecological breakdown.

So, without further ado, here are a few ways to ensure that your outfit choices and skincare routines are putting planet first.

Shop pre-owned

The negative connotations once linked to pre-owned fashion are no more.

During a time in which the threat of climate change or an ecological disaster is more prevalent than ever, resale shopping is all the rage.

In case you’ve forgotten, fashion is officially the largest global consumer of water according to the UN Environment and generates ‘more greenhouse gas emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.’

It’s also relatively notorious for how much waste it produces – one garbage truck every minute to be exact.

With concerns over the industry’s tremendous environmental impact growing ever-louder and more persistent, resale – and the elimination of over-consumption that comes with it – has become something of a saviour for sustainability in fashion.

Finding extra use for non-renewable clothing that’s already in circulation is a brilliant way to prevent items from ending up on landfill sites.

It also discourages customers from buying new and this reduction in purchasing greatly assists in slowing down environmental degradation.

Try swishing

Have you ever tried on ten different outfits before frustratingly exclaiming ‘I’ve got nothing to wear!’ (we’ve all been there, trust me) and refusing to leave the house as a result?

Or scrolled through Instagram fawning over your favourite style icons wishing you could dress like them?

Well, as the old saying goes, ‘one person’s rubbish is another person’s treasure,’ and that’s exactly the idea behind Swishing, which lets you conduct a sartorial overhaul that isn’t going to cost you, or the environment.

Slowly developing into a global phenomenon, all you have to do is take something you no longer wear to a Swishing event such as Swapsies, ‘a fully-fledged social movement promoting waste reduction in the industry,’ and exchange it for something else.

It’s that simple. While there are different rules at each one, the general consensus is that you receive a single token for each item that’s in good condition which you can then hand in later for some fresh pieces.

Why not rent?

Renting an outfit is changing the way we shop and in doing so, has fast become the answer to reducing waste and being more considerate towards the earth.

The ‘wear-once-and-done’ approach to fashion – fuelled by the potent fusion of toxically low-priced fast fashion items, the non-stop trend cycle, and Insta’s ‘outfit of the day’ hashtag – is quickly becoming a thing of the past, as the industry comes to terms with consumer’s need for newness alongside their eco-conscious values.

One of the most significant retailers getting on board with this progress is Selfridges, which has already hosted a Depop pop-up and Vestiaire Collective Space as part of its sustainability initiative.

Now, the department store has introduced a HURR space in its Contemporary Studio where, shoppers can try on and borrow items for 4-8 days that rotate on a weekly basis.

Go circular

As we continue to ride the resale wave and praise innovative brands for choosing to up-cycle garments rather than discard them, it seems unusual we haven’t applied the same pressure to an industry renowned for its significant contribution to global pollution levels.

I’m talking, of course, about the vast detritus that our makeup, skin, and hair care routines are leaving in their wake, specifically the 120bn tonnes of throwaway packaging generated by the ever-expanding sector annually – a sizable majority of it un-recyclable plastic.

Fortunately, more beauty companies are starting to think about how they can create and package their products in more ethically responsible ways, especially as Gen Z buyers begin to demand transparency and greater efforts to be mindful of waste and greenhouse emissions.

One such method is via refills, whereby consumers re-use packaging indefinitely to purchase a liquid or bottled product over and over again, rather than buying a single-use container every time they want a specific product.

It seems for many stores refill is the way forward to drastically reduce carbon footprints and make an impact without it being too much hassle logistically.

Soon we may all even be picking up our groceries via refill stations – it will have to become the norm if we’re ever to ditch single-use packaging for good.

If all else fails, there’s always plant-based

Similar to what we’ve seen with the ever-growing popularity of plant-based food, there’s been a significant shift in the beauty industry as of late, with more and more brands going vegan to satisfy their ethically conscious consumers.

Not only does there currently exist a wealth of PETA-approved cosmetics companies certifiably avoiding anything that’s been tested on animals or animal-derived ingredients like beeswax, gelatine, or lanolin among others, but more industry giants than ever before have begun making strides to get on board.

On this note, the next time your bathroom cabinet seems as though it’s ready for an update, why not strive to fill it with all-things plant-based?

I don’t even think I need to tell you how good ditching animal products from our daily routines is for the planet…


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