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Tips for a greener, more sustainable closet

Mary Alice Duff

Posted on April 22 2019

Happy Earth Day! 

It's Earth Day! The perfect time to dig into our sustainability practices. At Alice Alexander we only use earth-friendly, biodegradable materials in our designs. Not only are these better for earth, they're more comfortable! Natural fibers like linen and hemp breathe and work with your body's chemistry instead of against it.

In addition to choosing sustainable fibers we also employ a super low-waste, made-to-order production model preventing unsold inventory from ending up in landfill like the majority of retailers around the world. No big warehouses full of clothes, waiting to be sold. We only make it when you want it. And we responsibly recycle our fabric scraps.

We also use recycled and recyclable packing materials, making sure our process is green from start to finish. 

We're doing our part to make the fashion industry a little greener--and help our community, that's you all, make more sustainable choices. There are things that each of us can do at home to make our wardrobes a bit more eco-friendly, so here are our top 6 tips for building a greener, more sustainable closet. 

 How to build a more eco-friendly wardrobe

Wash your clothes less.

Unless you're working up a daily sweat there's no reason to wash your clothes after one wear. Sweaters, jackets, jeans, pants, bras, even most blouses can get an additional 2-10 wears before washing. And bonus, washing less helps to make your clothes last longer. So stay dirty, friends! 

Air dry your clothes for a more sustainable wardrobe

Air dry/ use a clothesline. 

As a kid we put EVERYTHING on the clothes line from March through November. It helped our family save money, made the clothes smell super fresh and whitened our towels without the use of bleach! While living abroad in southern Spain, most homes didn't even have clothes dryers. Putting clothes on the line was a way of life! 

Air drying prolongs the life of fabric and drying in the sun also helps to brighten light colored clothes. If you are putting darker colored clothing on a clothesline, it's recommended to put them in the shade so that the sun doesn't fade them. If you live in a climate where you can hang things out to dry much of the year, it makes sense to take advantage! 

Stick with eco-friendly fibers. 

Whether you're shopping second-hand or new it's always best to stick with earth-friendly fibers. Look for wool, linen, hemp, organic cotton, silk, cupro and tencel. I advise folks to avoid rayon as it's production process is pretty dirty. By sticking with eco-friendly and biodegradable fibers you're ensuring that the fabrics your choosing don't end up in a landfill forever. Even recycled polyesters will be here for 100s of years! And beyond being environmentally friendly natural fibers feel better on the skin, breathe (which allows you to stay cool in the summer and warm in the winter) and are far more comfortable to wear. Featured here are our organic cotton and hemp blend denim Gloria culottes and our Mia tee in organic cotton and tencel. Both are earth-friendly, durable, stylish and easily works with pieces already in your closet. 

Eco friendly fabrics hemp, organic cotton, tencel

Ditch polyester.

Even when shopping second-hand I advise folks to avoid polyester--as it's made of  petroleum. It can take hundreds of years to break down in a landfill and each time we wash polyester it releases micro plastics in our oceans. But sometimes, polyester is unavoidable! It's pretty much everywhere from bras and workout clothes to bathing suits. If you do already own and wear polyester we recommend washing with a guppy bag to help catch the microfibers that are released, preventing them from going down the drain. And recycle your polyester garments responsibly. 

Learn to mend. 

The greenest wardrobe is one that lasts the longest! Learn to repair small tears, replace buttons, fix hems and minor alterations. It's also worth finding a local tailor who can take on more challenging mending tasks like replacing a zipper on a loved jacket. 

Learn to mend for a greener wardrobe

Invest in quality over quantity. 

Perhaps the biggest challenge in building a more sustainable wardrobe is the mental shift from having a closet full of inexpensive, trendy pieces to a much smaller wardrobe full of high quality, timeless pieces (but don't think timeless means to be boring--you can still have fun with fashion!). Having been a fast fashion enthusiast for much of my life, transitioning to a slower wardrobe over the past 3 years was a massive mental challenge. But now that I know what fabrics to look for and how I will integrate a new piece into my existing wardrobe I feel so much more at peace with my shrinking closet--and bonus, fewer options makes getting dressed way easier! 

I hope these tips help you get on the path to a greener closet!

XO,

Mary Alice 

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