The Optimist Citizen

What Is Sustainable Clothing? A Beginner’s Guide

First and foremost, quite simply, sustainability means the ability to sustain an ecological balance to maintain natural resources & avoid depletion.  Sustainable clothing is about maintaining a harmonic relationship with the land, all its inhabitants, and resources.

Many think that sustainable clothing is hand-me-downs, second-hand, and upcycled garments. But it takes a shift in perception to see its luxury – because sustainable clothing is elegant, comfortable, and nowadays, expensive. However, it is only costly because it is long-lasting and worth it.

Sustainable clothing consists of these essential components working in harmony with the natural resources: design & development, material, processing, manufacturing, transportation, retail, consumption, and end of use. Sustainable clothing can succeed when and if the focus is on conceiving one-by-one garments that are long-lasting, ethical, and ecological.


Sustainable clothing means(but is not limited to):

Carbon Footprint Reduction

Sourcing materials most ethically and ecologically. Reduction of water usage and greenhouse gas emissions (electricity, heat, manufacturing, transportation, etc.). Producing only the amount of garments necessary(hint: this is one of the main reasons sustainable businesses offer pre-sales!). And lastly, as humans of the living soil, purchasing recyclable clothing and low-emissions clothing.


Longevity represents a healthy and harmonic environment that supports humans, plants, water, minerals, animals, and climate change well into the future. To create and sustain an environment of vitality and balance, we must ensure that our actions at this moment are for the well-being of all involved (people, animals, biodiversity & natural resources) – mending the past, honoring the present, and transforming the future.  

Sustainably sourced materials 

The use of sustainably sourced fibers for your items is crucial. Whether animal-based or plant-based fabrics, the importance is that it is right for you. And as Good Trade states, this “allows you to waste less, purchase fewer and wear your items a lot longer.” 

Integral consumption 

Whenever you choose to purchase an item, plain and simple: buy smart, buy less, upcycle more. The way to integral consumption is purchasing according to your core values and buying from the brands that act what they preach. 

Economical & Ecological regeneration

Sustainable clothing helps the economy regenerate through intention. While sustainable items may be a bit more pricey due to the slow, thorough and intentional production process, the ecosystem can continue to provide its natural resources without ever going scarce. Plus, the collective effort of recycling these garments helps the land prosper even more. And the economy transforms into one of value and integrity.


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