8 Sustainable Swaps To Make To Your Wardrobe Today

Although shopping habits have been turned upside over the past few months, we’re still in the market for pieces that fit our new quarantine lifestyle (goodbye, wedding-guest dress; hello, diaphanous house gown). Only now more than ever, we've been reconsidering how what we buy impacts the state of the world as we know it. To start, we crafted a sustainable-swap guide for wardrobes that ultimately do less harm and more good.

Discover the eco-friendly and low-impact alternatives to top style staples: including everything from recycled workout wear to sneakers, closed-loop t-shirt subscriptions, raw denim, and more. Before you write this collection off as a bunch of highfalutin luxury eco-wear, hit pause; because we populated the ahead slides with the most affordable options we could find. So, as you venture out into the World Wide Web for the rest of 2020's reimagined shopping adventures, use this collection as an eco-conscious tool for making more meaningful purchase decisions whenever possible.

We’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. 


Swap: Trainers made from recycled or natural materials
We know that fun, neon-colored footwear is calling your name; but consider this: according to National Geographic, “the average American bought seven pairs of shoes in 2018, and most of them ended up in the trash.”

We recently did a deep-dive on the ever-growing list of eco-friendly sneaker brands, but in sum, your options are plentiful. Whether you want a heavy-duty workout shoe in an eye-catching hue or a skate-inspired rubber-soled kick, there’s a sustainable sneaker out there for you.

Good News Bagger 2 Low Sneakers, $, available at Olivela


Swap: A closed-loop t-shirt subscription service
Now, more than ever, you’re living in a uniform of plain cotton tees, and you may be in the habit of re-upping your supply via the boys’ section at your local big-box store. While those tees might be shrunken, the conventional cotton that they’re often made from is gluttonous — the growing process gobbling up water (173 gallons for a single pound), soil, and pesticides, and piles of multi-syllable chemicals are required to process the fabric to make it smooth and snowy-white.

As an alternative, try For Days, a closed-loop basics brand that offers a hefty discount on new cotton tees when you send your old, worn-out ones back. You can also look for recycled-cotton options from companies like Patagonia, whose Responsibili-Tee shirts are made with 50% polyester and 50% cotton for a fabric that’s 100% recycled.

For Days Vintage Crew, $, available at For Days

Patagonia P-6 Logo Responsibili-Tee® Tee, $, available at Urban Outfitters


Swap: Swimwear made from recycled fishing nets and discarded carpet remnants
Instead of swimsuits made from virgin synthetics (like polyester, nylon, Lycra, or elastane), there are plenty of swim brands making stretchy, saltwater-ready bathing togs from recycled synthetics (like ECONYL, re-purposed nylon, and REPREVE, a second-life polyester fiber).

We barely scratched the surface with our list of the 14 companies that are doing it best, and there are many, many more waiting in the wings. We’re especially partial to the unique prints and patterns of SEEA’s sun-protecting rashguards.

Seea Doheny Rashguard, $, available at Outerknown

Party Dress

Swap: A rental dress service
That flowing floral frock at $24.99 sure is tempting, but a synthetic material isn’t doing the environment any favors. Since you’re probably not getting a ton of mileage out of that dress anyway — aka you’re attending a 25-person socially distant wedding this summer as opposed to multiple 250-guest affairs — why not use a service like Rent the Runway and borrow it for a few days?

Autumn Adeigbo Lehkan Dress (Rental), $, available at Rent The Runway


Swap: Raw or minimally washed denim that will break in overtime
All of that cool distressing on your denim — the rips, the fraying, the ombre fade — requires washing the dungarees, again and again, while using lots of water and stone particles. It’s a process that generates a lot of waste, so look for darker washes the next time you’re shopping for jeans — they’ve likely gone through less processing. Plus, they’ll look so much cooler when you break them in yourself.

Levi's Ribcage Wide Leg Women's Jeans, $, available at Levi's

Carleen Two-Tone Jeans, $, available at Carleen

Sports Bra

Swap: A recycled polyester bra top
Girlfriend Collective’s recycled-fiber activewear is not only eco-friendly, it’s also durable and long-lasting — this fashion writer wore her maternity pair daily for three months straight during her third trimester, and they’re still going strong. Even better than the brand’s standard high-performance gear is the new FLOAT collection, a range of super-soft, lighter-weight workout styles made from plastic bottles. When the goods wear out — and trust us, that while take a while — the brand will take the pieces back in exchange for store credit as part of their ReGirlfriend recycling program.

Girlfriend Collective FLOAT Cleo Bra, $, available at Girlfriend Collective


Swap: A recycled (but still seaside-ready) sandal
Made from repurposed tires, these sleek, chic flippies from certified B Corp. Indosole are an eco-friendly alternative to your impossible-to-recycle, foam-rubber PVC thongs. They’re just as waterproof as their plastic cousins, but they remove waste from the environment, instead of adding it.

Indosole ESSNTLS Vegan Flip Flops, $, available at Amazon

Clothing Retailer Giftcard

Swap: Consignment store giftcard
Maybe your bestie just had a baby and you want to shower with new clothes for her little one, or your sister managed to land a job mid-pandemic and you’re helping her build a new Zoom-ready top collection — instead of gifting store credit from a chain retailer, try ThredUP’s Gift of Thrift.

The vast consignment store has every brand under the sun, from work-ready garments courtesy of MM6, Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Rachel Comey, and Ulla Johnson to kids’ togs from brands like Boden and Patagonia.

Rachel Comey Pullover Sweater, $, available at Rachel Comey

Patagonia Fleece Pants, $, available at ThredUP

from refinery29
8 Sustainable Swaps To Make To Your Wardrobe Today 8 Sustainable Swaps To Make To Your Wardrobe Today Reviewed by streakoggi on July 28, 2020 Rating: 5
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