Which sustainable pieces are worth the investment?

I’ve always lived by the mantra that clothing purchases should be carefully considered and carried out. Decluttering expert Marie Kondo has rightly taught me that everything in my closet should bring me joy, and so I’ve made an effort to invest, when I can, in items that will last for years. This also includes donating items I don’t love as much that are taking up valuable space. In recent years, I’ve made an effort to make these investments more sustainable; taking time to do my research and purchasing versatile and classic pieces that don’t harm the environment.

Neutral colours, via Unsplash

A key part of making investment purchases is to choose pieces that are wearable and timeless. One of the best ways to do this is to pick neutral colours such as black, white or beige. This will mean the clothing item you’re investing in can be incorporated into as many outfits as possible, making it well worth the initial price. In terms of what to invest in, think of the items you wear almost every day and that have high functionality. For example, a bag or a coat is always going to be useful for storing your things or keeping you warm in the colder months.

Focusing on materials is what will help to make your purchase really sustainable. Try to find items made with materials that have a low impact on the environment, such as silk, linen or organic cotton, and make sure that the content of these materials is 100%. A high-quality item made from sustainable fabric is likely to stand the test of time, and prove to be a durable and dependable piece of your wardrobe in the long term.

Jewellery is always worth an investment, as better materials will prevent your item from tarnishing for as long as possible, reducing the chances of it being thrown away and going into landfill. One might think that spending more on a piece of jewellery guarantees that the piece is sustainable and/or ethical. However, many expensive materials such as gold and diamonds are often sourced under questionable circumstances. It’s clear that finding a brand which is open about their sourcing and manufacturing process is imperative when purchasing investment pieces.

It is important to make the distinction between ‘sustainable’ and ‘ethical’ when considering the materials which make up clothes or accessories. If you’re looking for an animal-friendly way to purchase a new bag or pair of shoes, you might opt for ‘vegan leather’, which has become increasingly popular as brands continue to exploit this buzzword. However, synthetic leather, or PVC as it is commonly known, has a notable environmental impact due to the harmful chemicals involved in its production. Furthermore, these faux leather materials are more likely to be worn out and thrown away. Therefore, when purchasing leather or imitation leather pieces it’s important to weigh up and define what matters to you, or alternatively to abstain from purchasing these products altogether.

If you’re not in a position to invest in sustainable pieces, a viable option is to invest in an alteration for something you already own. Wearing items you already have is probably the most sustainable choice you can make, and it can help to restore an item which might not fit anymore, or breathe new life into a piece which might have become outdated. So have a look through yours, or your relative’s old stuff and see what you can revive.

Microfibers in our clothes, via Greenpeace

Another alternative is possible if you’re on a tighter budget and have many items in your closet with a high synthetic content, such as polyester. If this is the case, it might be worth investing in a wash bag that can capture and filter microplastics. Synthetic materials can cause harm to the environment when they’re washed, releasing microfibres which flow through our drains and accumulate in water sources. These washing bags prevent microfibres from leaving the washing machine by trapping them, and constitute a fantastic option for someone who might want to reduce their impact on the environment but can’t necessarily invest in 100% natural and non-synthetic materials.

When you think about it, anything that you keep for years and doesn’t make its way into landfill is a sustainable piece. Above all, an investment should be something you love and make use of, and can be something you pass down to a loved one in the future.

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