The Beginner’s Guide to a More Sustainable Wardrobe

There’s a certain level of jubilation that comes from buying something new. I’ll be the first to admit it, but as of late, I can’t stop thinking about the flip side of that shiny new purchase, which is its environmental impact. Yes, I know that’s the most millennial statement ever, but it’s valid because in 2015, the greenhouse gas emissions from textile production were more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. On top of that, every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is either burned or taken to a landfill. Fast fashion is a large culprit in this crisis, but it’s not the only one, as even in recent years, fashion houses (that won’t be named) have been caught burning products rather than lowering their retail value, and laws both within the United States and globally have been scaled back or are nonexistent around regulating the fashion industry’s environmental impact. 

For many—even if you are an avid secondhand shopper like me—the emotional burden of having to worry about the impact of the fashion industry can often feel like it outweighs the joy of clothing. But I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way. While it’s going to take a serious commitment from industry leaders and governmental powers to combat our clothing’s environmental and societal toll, we as consumers do have the ability to lower the impact of our own closet’s carbon footprint. It’s just a matter of becoming a conscientious consumer. 

If you’re not sure where or even how to start, that’s okay. Ahead, you’ll hear from Erin Wallace, ThredUp’s VP of integrated marketing, along with Kathleen Talbot, Reformation‘s chief sustainability officer and VP of operations, who break down how your shopping habits impact the environment, tools you can use to check your footprint, and little changes you can make that won’t cost you or the environment anything. But first, a breakdown of facts…