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Top 10 tips for sustainable fashion

Did you know that the fashion industry contributes around 10% of global carbon emissions? That’s as much as the whole airline and maritime shipping industries combined! The industry also results in a lot of waste - 85% of all textiles in the U.S end up in landfills. 

Making smart choices about where you buy clothes, how often you buy clothes, and how you take care of your garments can all help reduce the carbon footprint of what you wear. Here are our top 10 tips for sustainable fashion.  

And don’t forget – you can get 5% cashback from select sustainable fashion retailers with your FutureCard Visa® Card! Sign up today and start saving in style; It’s good for your wallet and good for the planet.  

Women pose in sustainable outfits.

Buy used

Buying clothes used instead of new is one of the best ways to reduce emissions through what you wear. One study by Green Study found that a dress purchased secondhand, specifically from thredUp, can save 21.4 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. A handbag purchased secondhand can save even more, with 267 pounds of carbon dioxide saved. Buying secondhand can be as easy as walking into your local thrift store to find what you need, or turning to online marketplaces like thredUp, Depop, or Poshmark. You can also find secondhand items directly from retailers, like Levi’s SecondHand, Patagonia Worn Wear, or lululemon Like New. You can get 5% cashback from all secondhand fashion and thrift stores using your FutureCard! 

Mend any damage

Instead of throwing out and replacing clothes that have signs of wear and tear, try to repair them at home. This can divert clothes from the landfill and prevent you from needing to buy new garments. Lengthening the life of our clothing from one to two years can actually decrease their carbon footprint by 24%! Visible mending is a trendy way to repair and bring new life to your clothes by adding colorful designs and patterns to garments.

Do your homework

Researching the brands you buy from before making a purchase can ensure you’re supporting brands that support people and the planet. Checking the sustainability and labor practices on each brand’s website is a good place to start, but you can also look to directories like Good On You that rate companies based on their sustainability practices.  Some of their highest-rated brands include Happy Earth, Fair Indigo, Girlfriend Collective, and Eileen Fisher.  

Clothes hang from a rack in a thrift store.

Choose sustainable fabrics

Natural materials like cotton and hemp are beneficial to the environment because they are biodegradable and don’t require the use of any carbon-intensive plastics. But not all natural materials are made equally. Cotton, for example, requires a lot of water to grow and produces 220 million metric tons of CO2 per year, but choosing organic or recycled cotton can greatly reduce these emissions. There’s also innovative fabrics like Tencel and Ministry of Supply’s carbon-neutral, 100% recycled Aero Zero° that are sustainable choices are well. And because Ministry of Supply is a FuturePartner, you get 6% cashback on all purchases made there using your FutureCard! 

Rent or borrow for special occasions 

Need something fancy for a wedding, fundraiser, or other event, but know you won’t wear it more than once? Instead of buying something that will sit in your closet for years, try renting an outfit from Rent the Runway or borrow an outfit from a friend. Buying even just one less outfit a year can really help cut your carbon footprint. 

Less is more  

One of the best things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is to just consume less. Being mindful of the clothes you purchase and thinking twice before adding a piece to your closet can drastically decrease the carbon footprint of your wardrobe and help save you money. One study found that just one new white cotton shirt can produce the same amount of emissions as driving a car for 35 miles. To help keep your closet minimal, try developing a capsule wardrobe 

Invest in quality

It may be tempting to opt for cheaper clothes to save money. But a t-shirt that costs $10 will likely only last a year, while a t-shirt with a higher price tag could last you several years, saving you money over time. Investing in higher quality clothes rather than fast fashion can help reduce your carbon footprint by reducing the number of garments you have to buy overtime. And if you’re opting for higher quality pieces, it’s also likely you’ll be buying from companies with sustainability and ethics at the core of their mission. Remember, you vote with your wallet! 

Sustainable outfits hang from a rack.

Be mindful with your laundry 

Adjusting your laundry routine can have a bigger impact on your carbon footprint than you may think. Washing your clothes in cold water even just 80% of the time can cut your emissions by 864 pounds of carbon per year! You can also cut more from your emissions by line drying your clothes and washing your garments less. While some may need to be washed after each use, other things like pants and jackets can be worn more than once before washing.  


Have an old t-shirt you no longer wear? Turn it into a tote or cut it into cleaning rags. Have jeans that are too short or too long? Give them new life by cutting them into shorts. There are endless ways to repurpose old clothes you don’t wear anymore, and upcycling them into something new that you’ll actually use can divert them from the landfill and save you from needing to buy something new.  

Give old clothes a new home 

Can’t think of any ways to upcycle old clothes? Donate them, sell them online, or give them to a friend – just don’t toss them. Tossing your clothes when you no longer want them contributes to the unnecessary waste plaguing the fashion world – currently, 85% of all textiles in the U.S end up in landfills, where they decompose and emit high levels of greenhouse gases like methane, which is more than 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.