Skip Forever 21 With These 5 Tips For a More Sustainable Wardrobe

Fast fashion can often be equated with lower quality clothing. While it might seem like an easy and affordable option, it’s important to consider what you’re losing out on in the long run by choosing cheaper clothes.

People are buying and discarding clothing at a rate that has never been seen before.

According to the New York Times, the United States generated nearly 12 million tons of textile waste in 2015, that’s about 75 lbs per person.

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Kendra Pierre-Louis is a climate reporter with the New York Times. She says that fast fashion culture is all about disposability, which is a big problem in a world already overwhelmed with waste.

“If you buy a shirt and it falls apart, you need to buy a new shirt and that’s a change in the industry that really hit in the late 80s early 90s where they went from expecting you to buy a pair of jeans and pay a lot for that pair of jeans and hold on to them for a really long time, to buying a really cheap pair of jeans but buying so much more of it,” says Louis. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way. WDET’s Annamarie Sysling spoke to Pierre-Louis about everyday tips for moving way from fast fashion and towards a more sustainable model. 

Click on the player above to learn about fast fashion for your wardrobe, and read actionable tips below.

Tip #1: Question whether or not you actually need anything

Pierre-Louis says low-cost fashion can be an impulse decision, one that she advises to push against. Ask, “do I need pants or am I just killing time?”

Tip #2: The best cotton T-shirt

long fiber cotton, one brand name of it is Pima cotton, and that matters because the longer the strand or fiber is, the longer the item of clothing will last. But there’s only so much of that they can grow in the world and so the way a retailer will get around that is to use a shorter fiber cotton, which doesn’t last as long.

Tip #3: Wash your laundry on cold and hang dry it

If you wash on cold, you can get away with mixing whites and colors as an added bonus. Drying clothes that contain elastic will eat or melt the elastic, which is why it’s generally best to skip the dryer and just hang your clothes instead. 

Tip #4: Extend the life of your shoes

Pierre-Louis says “If you’re buying nicer shoes, you can take your shoes to the shoe store and put protective rubber soles on them and that extends the life of the shoes.” But, she adds that it can cost around $20 to $40, so it would only make sense for shoes that are worth attaching that level of value. 

Tip #5: Basic sewing

Learn how to darn a hole, or how to sew on a button.


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  • Annamarie Sysling

    Anna Sysling is a producer for Detroit Public TV's Great Lakes Now. She is a former producer for Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson.