8 eco hacks for a lifelong wardrobe

Moments in lockdown can be used to set sustainable habits for life

Lockdown has granted us the time and space to finally tackle some nagging tasks…. Namely, the wardrobe clear-out. With some very good advice from London’s leading fashion editors, here’s eight of our top eco-hacks to strengthen the lifespan of your favourite pieces. Productive isolation starts here!

As lockdown continues, we’re spending more time than ever indoors, giving us space to edify our lifestyles. Sure, we can enhance our creativity and take up a new skill – new language or instrument, anyone? – but we could also be using this time to declutter our humble abodes. 🏠

And there’s no better starting point to do so than a wardrobe! If your clothing is uncared for, it’s guaranteed to make you feel more anxious (the last thing you need right now), and more pressingly, its lifespan will decrease. Less care equals more waste which equals more environmental damage.

Given the smaller sales figures for fashion brands right now, global sustainability efforts are far less certain, so a personal approach to eco-hacks is vital. ♻️

1. Embrace a low degree cycle at home

With a hectic social life before lockdown, you might not have thought about the best conditions for washing your clothes at home. But they make a huge difference, and they’re very straightforward to adopt. “I wash practically everything, including cashmere and silk either by hand or on a machine 20-30 degree wash,” The Telegraph’s Head of Fashion, Lisa Armstrong, says. This simple use of a lower degree cycle causes less wear to the textile of your clothes and also maintains colour for longer. What’s not to love?

2. Invest in a green machine ♻️

If you want to take your eco washing hacks one step further than a 20-30 degree cycle, a green machine is the answer. Why? Because if your current washing machine is pretty old, the likelihood is that it uses up to 40 gallons – AKA twice as much – water per load.

You want to look out for a modern machine with an EcoSilence drive and ActiveWater feature, as these make sure to reduce energy loss and prevent unnecessary waste while running.

Our top pick? A buy from German company Bosch – the A+++ energy rating says it all.

3. Go for a guppyfriend washing bag

“Using a Guppy Sac is really important to filter out microfibres,” advises British Vogue’s Digital Director Ellie Pithers. Microplastic pollution from washing is a big problem, but this polyamid bag provides an essential solution: immediately shedding unnecessary fibres, preventing them from entering into oceans and, vitally, making your garments last longer. Good stuff.

4. Be aware of fix and mend solutions 🧵

Should your clothes be in an imperfect state (be it through a tear, moth hole, or perhaps they’ve just got a bit big or small for you), throwing them out isn’t the answer. All it takes is a fix and mend, and if you’re aware of the best, your clothes are in for a regeneration treat.

Lisa Armstrong is super into it. “It’s a great way to breathe new life into over familiar pieces,” she says.

If your knowledge on mending is slightly limited, we recommend an online visit to Clothes Doctor: the UK’s first digital clothing maintenance service. You can book video consultations, send garments off for repair and, best of all, sign up to their online mending tutorial series. That little sewing kit in your top kitchen draw comes in handy after all. 🧷

5. Refer to refreshing sprays

As Ellie Pithers helpfully pointed out, “I also like to use clothes refreshing sprays at home from Matchesfashion.” This is a brilliant alternative to machine washing; not only are they formulated with non-toxic, biodegradable and allergen-free ingredients (which work to remove odors), they’re specifically designed for groups of materials. Simply hold the bottle six inches away from your favourite piece, and you’ll be sprucing it up with a fresh scent instantly. 💨

6. Adopt the one in, one out shopping philosophy

Ok, so you’ve improved your physical washing and mending routines at home. Now over to the personal eco-hacks you can adopt. If you’re still carrying out virtual shopping trips, be sure to consider the one in, one out philosophy before a purchase. 👗

We all love updating our wardrobe when we find a beautiful, well-made piece, but we don’t want our folding piles to get bigger, so when you invest in one, get rid of another. By having this in mind, your expectations for new items will increase, and you’ll find your collection will be kept at a consistent level. This is the ultimate mental hack – just make sure to implement the right strategies when saying goodbye to your pre-loved garments.

7. Recycle your clothes (or give them to charity)

The obvious points of call are Oxfam and recyclenow.com (both brilliant options), but we’re here to enlighten your fashion-savvy mind on a less known sector: high street programmes. Leading brands like H&M, Marks & Spencer and & Other Stories offer garment collection initiatives, with the intention of preventing unwanted clothes from going to landfill. While we may not be able to donate to stores right now, this is the ultimate option to prepare for, so pack up your recycling pile and have it ready to donate.

8. Educate yourself on sustainable brands

As Lisa Armstrong advises, “treat every purchase like a cherished, considered investment. Can you see yourself wearing it in five years? How many different jobs will it do? Apply this to everything.”

In addition to these questions, there’s another vital one to consider: am I purchasing sustainably? Contrary to popular belief, sustainable brands can still be stylish, and best of all, don’t have to break your bank. Looking to invest in a longer-lasting wardrobe? Check out our top eco buys under £100 and our favourite sustainable designers to watch right now.