How To Piece Together A Sustainable Wardrobe
& Permission to Wear Clothes You Actually Love
There was a time when I didn’t understand why we could waste any growing space for anything other than food. Flower gardens seemed trivial and vane. Why grow pretty things if you can’t eat them?
I have a highly practical side to me - that side that committed to getting a bachelor's degree in Physics - or maybe it’s my 4 planets in Virgo - I easily swoon over the sweet talk of rational thinking.
So growing things for beauty and pleasure took a while for me to accept and understand. Just as wearing clothes as art and joy to years to reintegrate.
I loved playing dress-up as a child. I have an old picture of myself at age 5 with dirty blonde hair, hugging my cat, wearing a white sun hat, white shirt and white lacy slip. My mom tells me I insisted on wearing that everyday for an entire summer.
As a teen, clothes became creative expression and easy obsession - scouring vintage stores in metro Detroit as a hobby on weekends. This last decade has brought the insurgence of fast fashion. Go to H&M or Forever 21 and anyone can be a dive - dressed to the nines for under $9.
-- The clothing industry is the second largest polluter in the world ... second only to oil
-- The United States alone produces 25 BILLION pounds of clothing waste every single year. A mere 15% gets donated to thrift shops and charities, and the other 85% ends up in landfills
-- A survey of 2,000 women found most clothes are worn just seven times
-- It takes 1,800 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to make just one pair of jeans
When I first fully felt this I vowed zero waste. Only buying thrifted clothes. I mean, who cares about how I dress? I’m too conscious to care about that egoic B.S., right?
But just as I learned that beautiful plants hold just as valuable a function as plants we can consume, adorning ourselves and expressing ourselves through caring for our bodies and our dress matters more than we can rationalize.
So what’s a human to do with a friggin’ horrible clothing industry?
THRIFT: We all know this. There are already enough clothes on this planet to garb us 5 times over.
Big tip here is find a local tailor - they’re cheaper than you think! Vintage Levi’s can be tailored for your curves for as little as $10…
SUSTAINABLE DESIGNERS: There are so many talented humans making extremely conscious and sustainable clothing lines. If you have the dough - or the patience to save for the perfect piece - high-quality, beautiful items are already being made.
Local (conscious) shops usually carry locally made clothing lines. Or start searching on etsy. Or you can fall down the instagram rabbit hole with the right hashtag.
COMMISSION: Check out what is growing in your local landscape. Local fibers from plants and animals make stunning and one-of-a-kind pieces. Google around you for alpaca farms, sheep, organic hemp and cotton.
Purchase some local fabric or fiber and ask the person you buy from if they know of people who make clothing from their fiber. You can commission a handmade piece of clothing from someone in your community, for your local sewing or looming group, or from someone you find on craigslist. Or you can do it yourself.
DURABILITY: Of course, purchase pieces that you LOVE, that you can imagine wearing for years and years, and that are MADE to last for years and years.
That Forever 21 shirt is $3 for a reason. (Inhumane labor practices, environmental destruction, and it will probably have a hole in it in 1 month)
HOBBY: A wise friend recently reminded me that as a culture we have lost our appreciation of hobbies. Using our hands and senses, and engaging our minds. Teach yourself to sew, go in with a friend to purchase a few yards of organic fabric from the source. Knit, mend, tailor, dye…
It is really not that difficult to learn to make a simple piece of clothing. It may take a few tries to get it right, but practice irons that out ;)
Coming to a close, I just want to remind you (and myself) that you are worthy of wearing clothing that you love and that make you feel beautiful.
Especially with the current astrological configuration, it is time to step into your full Leo roar of royalty. Play, laugh, act from your heart, and relish in the essence of what you love about yourself. If you don’t like what you own, bless it, thank it, and give it to goodwill. Or tailor it, dye it, or repurpose into a purse or some rags.
Samantha June Schiebold is a guide, a writer, and a devotee of Earth. She co-founded the permaculture design & education firm, Living Earth Systems, and she expresses her intuitive gifts through her Dirty Alchemy mentoring program.
Just like composting transforms the old and dead into new vibrant life, the dirty alchemy of aligning our life with the earth and reintegrating fractured parts of our Soul allows the parts that are not serving us to transform and unveil what was under the surface all along.
You can follow along on her zero waste, locavore journeys on Dirty Alchemy, Facebook, and Instagram.