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How To Build A Plastic-Free Wardrobe That Lasts

7 mins read. Published on 03 May 23, Updated on 06 Jun 23.
How To Build A Plastic-Free Wardrobe That Lasts

Welcome to our guide on how to build a plastic-free wardrobe! Did you know that the fashion industry is one of the largest contributors to plastic pollution? From synthetic materials like polyester and nylon to the packaging used to ship clothing, plastic is present in almost every aspect of the process. But, with conscious choices and purposeful shopping, you can build a wardrobe that not only looks great but is also better for our planet.

Building a plastic-free wardrobe can feel overwhelming, but taking small steps and making intentional choices can make a big impact. From choosing natural materials to shopping secondhand, we've put together a guide to help you build a wardrobe that's stylish, sustainable, and free from plastic. So, let's dive in and start building a wardrobe that lasts!

Table of contents

The Importance Of A Plastic-Free Wardrobe

A plastic-free wardrobe is becoming increasingly popular among eco-conscious people who are looking for sustainable shopping options. The fashion industry is a major contributor to plastic pollution, and the production of synthetic materials like polyester and nylon are damaging both to the environment and our health. Here are some reasons why building a plastic-free wardrobe is so important:

Environmental Impact

Many synthetic materials used in clothing production are made from non-renewable resources like crude oil. These materials do not biodegrade and contribute to the massive amount of plastic waste in landfills and our oceans. The production process of synthetic materials also releases harmful chemicals and greenhouse gases into the environment, contributing to climate change.

Health Concerns

Synthetic materials like polyester and nylon contain toxins like phthalates and bisphenol A (BPA) that can be absorbed through our skin. These chemicals have been linked to various health concerns including endocrine disruption, reproductive harm, and cancer. Choosing natural materials for our clothing is not only better for the environment but also for our health.

Supporting Sustainable Fashion

By building a plastic-free wardrobe, we can support sustainable fashion brands that prioritize using natural, organic, and biodegradable materials. These brands often use environmentally-friendly production methods and are transparent about their supply chain. Not only are we making a positive impact on the environment and our health, but we are also supporting ethical and sustainable fashion practices.

Assessing Your Current Wardrobe

Before you can begin building a plastic-free wardrobe, it's important to assess what you already have. Take an inventory of your clothes, shoes, and accessories.

Sort and Declutter

Once you've taken inventory, it's time to sort through everything and declutter. Get rid of anything that doesn't fit, is damaged beyond repair, or that you haven't worn in a while. Consider donating or selling gently used items.

Identify Sustainable Items

As you sort through your wardrobe, pay attention to the materials and care labels. Identify items made from sustainable materials such as organic cotton, linen, hemp, and Tencel. These materials are renewable and biodegradable.

Take Note of Plastic Materials

Unfortunately, many clothes and accessories are made from plastic materials such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic. These materials shed microfibers when washed, which pollute our waterways and harm marine life. Take note of any items made from plastic and consider replacing them with sustainable alternatives.

Finding Sustainable Materials

Natural Fibers

Natural fibers are a great alternative to synthetic materials. Look for materials like organic cotton, linen, hemp, and bamboo. These materials are biodegradable and compostable, which means they minimize waste and reduce environmental impact. The best part is that these materials are extremely durable and can last longer than synthetic fabrics.

Recycled Materials

Recycled materials are another great option. You can find clothing made from recycled plastic bottles, fishing nets, and even old textiles. The production process for recycled materials uses less energy and water which reduces the carbon footprint of the item.

Vintage and Secondhand Clothing

One of the most sustainable options is to buy vintage or secondhand clothing. This option extends a garments lifespan which means less waste. Plus, you can find unique and one-of-a-kind pieces. Thrift stores, consignment shops, and online resellers are all good places to start.

Plant-Based Leather

Leather is a popular material in fashion, but traditional leather production uses a lot of water and energy. Plant-based leather, made from materials like cork, pineapple leaves, and mushrooms, is a sustainable alternative. The production process uses fewer resources and creates less environmental impact.

Shopping Secondhand

As an eco-conscious individual, one of the most effective ways to build a plastic-free wardrobe is to shop secondhand. Here are some tips to help you make sustainable shopping choices:


Visiting thrift stores, consignment shops, and flea markets is an excellent way to find unique pieces while reducing waste. Keep in mind that thrifting requires patience and persistence, so don't be discouraged if you don't find what you're looking for right away.

Online Resale Platforms

There are many online resale platforms such as Poshmark, Depop, and ThredUp. These platforms allow you to buy and sell secondhand clothing, making it easier to find the pieces you need without leaving your home.

Clothing Swaps

You can also organize clothing swaps with friends and family. This way, you can exchange clothes that you no longer wear for items that you'll love. Clothing swaps are a fun and sustainable way to refresh your wardrobe. Remember, when shopping secondhand, it's essential to inspect the items carefully to ensure that they are in good condition and will last. By shopping secondhand, you're helping to reduce the amount of waste in landfills and supporting sustainable fashion.

Choosing Quality Over Quantity

When it comes to building a plastic-free wardrobe that lasts, choosing quality over quantity is an essential factor. This means investing in high-quality garments that are made to last, rather than buying a large quantity of cheap, fast-fashion items that will inevitably fall apart after a few wears. Firstly, opt for garments made from durable, natural materials like organic cotton, linen, wool, and hemp. These fabrics are not only long-lasting, but they also have a lower environmental impact compared to synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, and acrylic. In addition to choosing the right materials, it's also important to pay attention to the construction of the garment. Look for well-crafted pieces with strong seams and high-quality stitching. These garments will hold up better over time and can be repaired if necessary, rather than simply being thrown away.

Choosing Timeless Styles

Another aspect of choosing quality over quantity is investing in timeless, versatile styles that can be worn year after year. Instead of following fast fashion trends that come and go quickly, choose classic pieces that can be dressed up or down and worn for multiple occasions. When shopping for new garments, consider how they will fit into your existing wardrobe and whether they coordinate with other items you already own. A carefully curated wardrobe of high-quality, timeless pieces will not only be more sustainable but also save you money in the long run by reducing the need to constantly buy new clothes.

Proper Care And Maintenance


When it comes to washing your clothes, avoid using hot water unless absolutely necessary as it can damage the fabric and reduce their lifespan. Use mild detergents and avoid using fabric softeners as they contain microplastics that pollute water bodies. If possible, use natural alternatives like white vinegar or baking soda to soften clothes and remove odor.


Storing your clothes properly can help prolong their lifespan. Avoid hanging knits or any heavy pieces as they can stretch out over time. Instead, fold them neatly and store in a cool, dry place. Also, make sure to avoid storing clothes in plastic bags as they trap moisture and can cause mold and mildew. Opt for cotton or linen bags instead.


Before discarding clothes with minor damages, try repairing them at home. You can mend small tears, replace missing buttons, or patch up holes. Learning basic sewing skills can help you save money and reduce waste. If you're not confident about repairing clothes yourself, consider finding a local tailor or seamstress who can help.

Clothing Swaps

Changing your wardrobe doesn't always have to mean buying new clothes. Attend local clothing swaps and exchange gently used pieces with people in your community. You can get rid of clothes you no longer wear and discover new items that fit your style. Swapping clothes not only helps reduce waste but also saves money.


Proper care and maintenance is crucial in building a plastic-free wardrobe that lasts. By washing clothes with mild detergents, storing them properly, repairing them when necessary, and participating in clothing swaps, you can reduce waste and save money while extending the lifespan of your clothes. Adopting sustainable habits like these can go a long way in protecting the environment and supporting the circular fashion economy.

Mindful Consumption Habits

1. Buy Less

One of the best ways to reduce plastic waste in your wardrobe is to buy less. Before making a purchase, consider whether you really need it and how often you will wear it. Focus on quality, timeless pieces that will last for years instead of trendy items that will quickly go out of style.

2. Choose Sustainable Materials

When you do buy new clothing, look for items made from sustainable materials such as organic cotton, linen, and bamboo. These materials are grown and harvested without the use of harmful chemicals and are biodegradable.

3. Buy Second Hand

Buying second-hand clothing is a great way to build a plastic-free wardrobe. Not only is it more environmentally friendly than buying new clothes, but it's also a great way to save money and find unique pieces.

4. Repair and Repurpose

When your clothing starts to show signs of wear and tear, don't throw it away. Instead, repair or repurpose it. You can turn old t-shirts into cleaning rags or patch up a hole in your jeans. This will not only reduce your plastic waste but also extend the life of your clothing.

5. Dispose of Clothing Responsibly

When it's time to say goodbye to a piece of clothing, don't just toss it in the trash. Look for ways to dispose of it responsibly, such as donating it to a thrift store or giving it to a friend. If the clothing is beyond repair, consider recycling it. Many companies now offer textile recycling programs, which turn old clothing into new fibers.

Supporting Sustainable Brands

When building a plastic-free wardrobe, supporting sustainable brands is imperative. Here are some subcategories to consider when purchasing from sustainable brands:

Fabric Choice

Choose brands that offer clothing made with eco-friendly fabrics such as organic cotton, linen, bamboo, and recycled polyester. These materials are more sustainable than traditional fabrics and have a lower impact on the environment.

Production Methods

Sustainable brands may use methods such as zero-waste production, upcycling, and fair labor practices to reduce their environmental impact. Look for brands that prioritize ethical and sustainable practices in their production processes.


Eco-conscious brands minimize packaging waste by avoiding plastic and using recyclable materials instead. Choose brands that use minimal packaging and opt for environmentally friendly shipping methods. Supporting sustainable brands not only helps to reduce your environmental impact but also supports businesses that prioritize sustainability in their practices. By making conscious choices when shopping, you can contribute to a more sustainable fashion industry.

Spreading Awareness And Education

The Importance of Sustainable Shopping

Building a plastic-free wardrobe that lasts starts with making conscious choices when it comes to shopping. It's essential to understand the impact of fast fashion and the amount of waste it creates, and the harmful chemicals it uses in the production process. Sustainable shopping means investing in high-quality clothes made from natural or recycled materials and supporting small businesses that practice sustainable production methods.

How To Shop Sustainably

When building a plastic-free wardrobe, it's important to prioritize quality over quantity. Look for clothes that are durable, timeless, and versatile, rather than trendy fast fashion pieces that won't last long. Buying second-hand clothes is also an excellent option, as it helps reduce waste and extends the life cycle of the clothes. Research sustainable brands and learn more about their production process and materials used to make informed choices.

Spreading Awareness

Spreading awareness about sustainable shopping and the impact of fast fashion is crucial to creating a more sustainable future. Share your knowledge with friends and family, and encourage them to make more conscious choices when shopping. Writing to your favorite brands and advocating for sustainable production methods, and supporting initiatives that promote sustainability are also great ways to spread awareness and have a wider impact on the fashion industry.
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