A young girl poses in "green" attire.

Reducing your environmental footprint means more than recycling cans, rethinking food choices, and cutting back fossil fuel emissions. The clothes you wear also have a significant impact on the world around you, and the best part is you don’t have to sacrifice any style to make sure you’re doing your part. Follow these easy guidelines, and you’ll be well on your way towards creating your own ultra-chic, ultra-green wardrobe.

Rewear Everything

Choose clothing like you choose cars and furniture: for durability and endless style. Classic styles of sweaters, shirts, pants, socks, and underwear never let you down. Plus, they’re always easy to work into the latest fashion trends with just a splash of panache. Invest in a few well-made basics in these categories, and you can stop worrying about needing to replace them on a regular basis.

Make Smart Fabric Choices

A young woman wears hand-me-down/thrifted clothes to save money and the environment.

You already know that organic cotton is a better choice than regular cotton. Leather, linen, ramie and tencel are also sustainable, so the next time you’re shopping for a particular item, make sure to research the fabric options and choose one that won’t leave a messy footprint on the Earth or undercut foreign labor.

Embrace Heirloom Clothing

Shop vintage clothing stores both locally and online. You’ll find that many fashion trends run in cycles and pick up items that were so well-made 20 years ago that they still look great over the next several decades. Vintage apparel also inspires thinking outside the box when it comes to accessorizing, helping you create a whole new look you can call your own.

Sew You Say

Learn how to repair clothes on your own, or find a local seamstress or tailor to help you. Replacing buttons and zippers and repairing split seams and hems means no expenditures for new items and less impact on the environment by manufacturing plants.

Save Money by Renting

Instead of buying special clothes for upscale events, rent them. Several websites have clothes for all occasions that you can lease for a day or a week, as well as rentable accessories including jewelry, shoes, wraps, and other wardrobe trimmings.

Shop in Your Neighborhood

A young woman wears hand-me-down/thrifted clothes to save money and the environment.

Ever spotted something in a fashion magazine that you felt like you just had to have? Instead of looking for it online, search locally for designers who create similar styles. You’ll not only be supporting local businesses, but chances are the textiles used by neighborhood artisans are sourced close to home as well.

Stay in the Loop

Every day, new fabrics are being developed that are capable of being manufactured with little to no negative impact on the environment. Stay up-to-date on the latest fashion industry trends through the all-knowing internet, and closely read clothing labels and carefully follow the care instructions on them to ensure your clothes look good longer.

Recycle When Possible

If you have clothes that don’t fit anymore or you’ve just grown tired of wearing, don’t trash them. Gather some friends and do a clothing exchange, sell them online, or donate them to a charitable organization. Items that are too damaged to be reused should be recycled at places that specialize in reprocessing fabrics into other items.

Trans-Seasonal Sustainability

Instead of having a different wardrobe for every season, start thinking in more annual terms. After all, camisoles and shirts can be worn year-round when layered or accessorized. Pants, skirts, and many dresses also make for good all-season apparel when paired with jackets, sweaters, coats, and a variety of footwear.

Quality vs. Quantity

A young girl sports her thrift shop apparel with pride.

When you’re out shopping for clothing staples, don’t automatically choose the pieces that are the least expensive. Sure, you can buy more items with the money you save, but if the clothes fall apart after a few washings, it’s not really that much of a bargain. Find higher-quality items and follow them until they go on sale. You’ll soon have a closet full of superior, stylish clothes that will last you years.