Women’s blouses in various textures hang on a clothing rack.


New Year’s Fashion Resolutions for a Sustainable and Ethical Closet

By Natalie Bencivenga


January 5, 2021

I have to admit I am not one for making New Year’s resolutions. In fact, I think they often set us up for failure and feeling badly soon after we realize we aren’t living up to our own expectations. However, for sustainable fashion I make exceptions. Check out my resolutions that can help us start a revolution when it comes to sustainable style. 

Swear off impulse purchases: We’ve all done it. It was on clearance or it was the last one left in our size or it was just so damn pretty. But we never wore it. There it would sit in our closet, tags still on, mocking us. Months or even years later we dust it off only to find out that it doesn’t fit, we never actually liked it or it’s no longer in fashion. Instead, try shopping for specifically what you need. If you go out for a pair of jeans, return home with just a pair of jeans. This can save your wallet and reduce waste, too. 

Try the one-for-one rule: I never bring home a new, vintage or gently-loved item unless I am willing to donate something out of my closet. Not only does it help keep my closet from being cluttered, but it makes me look at what I already have. Oftentimes, I really don’t need anything, and sometimes I even find the thing I was about to go out and purchase. 

Try a fashion fast: Reinvent the clothes you already have hanging in your closet. Try not spending anything on fashion for a week, a month, several months...whatever you can do to help clear your mind about what it is you really want and what it is you are just buying to buy. Make a list of items or start a Pinterest page with your favorite fashion inspirations so that when you do decide to shop again, you have a place to start. 


Shop second-hand: And when you do decide to shop, check out your local consignment or vintage shops. You can find such hidden gems for great prices, helping both the environment and your wallet. 

Trustworthy brands only: There are a lot of gimmicks online these days, especially on social media showing very on-trend, very affordable looks to buy. But a lot of these companies are misrepresenting themselves and do not have sustainable practices in place or have ethical working conditions. Instead, focus your attention on local makers and designers who are using recycled materials and sustainable, ethical practices. Think quality over quantity. 

Apply the 30-wear rule: If you are out shopping and fall in love with a garment, think about how often you would actually wear it. If it seems as though it’s an “Instagram only moment” or something that you may not wear more than a few times, reconsider. Build a wardrobe with items that are versatile, make you feel good and can be easily dressed up or down for maximum bang for your buck. 

Yes, fashion is always fun, but let’s make sure it’s ethical, sustainable and impactful, as well.


Natalie Bencivenga is a regular columnist with The Green Voice Weekly Newsletter.