5 ways to build an eco-friendly wardrobe on a budget

Here are some easy tips to shop smart and build an eco-savvy wardrobe without breaking the bank.

This section on Ethical Fashion is made possible with the support of Bhu:Sattva

Now that the Great Independence Sale season is behind us, you probably find yourself either free of your savings or feeling like your will power has been through the Ironman Challenge. But we all know that sales are daily events and with every label screaming out ‘BUY ME’, it can be challenging to make sustainable fashion choices.

Green fashion need not mean wearing frumpy, ill-fitting, gruel-hued garments, buying prohibitively expensive stuff, or going years without buying new clothes.  It means that, as consumers, we become more attentive to what goes into making the clothes we love and the social and environmental impacts they have before reaching us and once they leave our closets.

Here are some easy tips to shop smart and build an eco-savvy wardrobe without breaking the bank.

Tip #1: Geek out

Understand how, where, by whom your garments were made and what went into making them. For the brands you are most loyal to, learn about the processes they follow – stuff like the extraction, production, disposal, and the transportation of what you are buying. This can help you make informed fashion choices.

Know what harmful dyes are, understand how fabrics like polyester and lycra are made, get acquainted with the benefits of handloomed clothes and find out who stocks safe clothing. Environment friendly products are easier to buy once you become an aware consumer. It might sound like a lot of work, but we promise that it will be a cakewalk after a few tries. Read about Indian brands that are giving sustainable fashion a makeover here (1, 2, 3).

Tip #2: Begin with the accessories

Upgrading your entire wardrobe can be an overwhelming and expensive task. It could also send a ton of your used stuff to the dump, defying the whole purpose of greening your closet. The best way to go about this is to start small, with your accessories.

The next time you’re on the hunt for new accessories, look out for those made from sustainable materials like bamboo, clay and hemp or upcycled from bottle caps, newspaper, glass, or scrap fabric.

Or better yet, get crafty with making your own accessories!

Tip #3: Stay away from the synthetics

A very important part of sustainable fashion is to understand the fibres that make up your garment. It takes many petrochemicals and a lot more energy to produce synthetic fabrics and then get them to consumers. Moreover, artificial ones like nylon, elastane, rayon and polyester are non-biodegradable and can remain in landfills for up to 40 years.

A sure fire way to avoid this is by turning to healthy, natural fibres like cotton, linen, hemp, silk and wool. These fibres are naturally cultivated, more energy-efficient, and less polluting.

Unfortunately, most garment labels do not carry information on their fibre composition. So, ask for information or buy only from responsible, ethical manufacturers.

Tip #4: Classic is never last season

Buy garments in silhouettes, styles and colours that look good on you and that you will want to wear even when they are last season. Impulse buying, while it can be an instant mood-lifter, will only clutter your closet and have minimal value once the trend is dead.

 Tip #5: Repurpose with a purpose

This is probably the easiest and most doable tip. There is nothing wrong in buying new garments you might need, but discarding old ones while they are still in usable condition is a green fashion faux-pas. Here are some eco-friendly options to deal with a closet full of old clothes:

  • Reuse: Instead of sending that old shirt to the landfill or discarding that worn out pair of trousers, why not make a one-of-a-kind tote bag out of it? Or a bracelet maybe, or a quilt or…the options are endless. There are several DIY sites online that can help you put your used clothes to good use. This won’t only be environment-friendly but will also result in you possessing unique and creative stuff.
  • Donate: If you are not the type of person to create your own accessories and yet wish to get rid of your less fashionable clothes and accessories responsibly, you can always donate them. Instead of increasing the waste pile of the world, why not help someone in need? There are thousands of people who would be more than happy to make use of your clothes. Find organizations in your city that will take your old clothes or start a clothes collection drive yourself!
  • Resell: There are several platforms, like Second to None that will help you find new homes for your pre-loved stuff. There are lots of folks out there making vintage, thrifted, pre-owned stuff look super cool. Who knows, your new favourite pair of jeans might just be lying, sparingly used and ignored in someone else’s closet. Go, look for them!
  • Remodel: That new crop top you bought might go splendidly well with that floral jacket you were thinking of chucking. Experiment with layering old clothes together in new combinations, turn that old dupatta into a cool shrug or paint funky patterns on those old keds to give them a new look.
  • Repair: Don’t let a tear or a stain be what sends your garments to the garbage. A few basic sewing skills can mean that you get to enjoy that soft shirt for a little while longer.

Bonus Tip: Poncho raincoats

https://www.ssactivewear.com/ShopNow/Item.aspx?ID=1270“How long will the monsoon last?”, asked the fresher.

“12 months. Only”, replied the senior.

If you, like me, live in a coastal Indian town where the monsoon lasts all year long, you are sure to find this tip useful. The everlasting rains need us to be stocked up on raincoats, umbrellas, windcheaters, rain boots and everything else that might save us from the pelting rain. How do we stay dry on our student budgets?

The rain poncho! Which saves us from having to buy three different products?

It is extremely comfy = you don’t need a raincoat!

A full length one will cover you from head to toe = you don’t need an umbrella!

It keeps you warm and dry while you zip through town on your bike = you don’t need a windcheater!


The Sustainable Fashion Hub is a series that examines shifts in the the global fashion industry to more sustainable and ethical practices and processes, with a special focus on India. It explores what goes into creating a just and sustainable fashion value chain – from the creation of garments and lifestyle accessories to making them available to consumers. All content on the hub is produced with 100% editorial independence by The Alternative. 

The Hub is supported by logo, India’s first certified organic designer apparel brand in India. With products that are directly sourced from organic cotton farmers at fair trade terms. Bhu:Sattva® uses natural colours, vegetable and herb dyes and goes further to work on reviving various forms of traditional weaving and handloom. Information on its products and processes can be found at http://www.bhusattva.com



Anukrati Mehta is a student of Journalism and Communication, and hopes to make a difference in the world through her written words. She wishes to combine her passion for writing, journalism and travel by pursuing travel journalism in the future. more


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Anukrati Mehta is a student of Journalism and Communication, and hopes to make a difference in the world through her written words. She wishes to combine her passion for writing, journalism and travel by pursuing travel journalism in the future. more

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