Circular fashion on a budget is far from impossible. Yes, eco-friendly clothes often have a higher price tag. Quality materials, green delivery methods, and eco-friendly packaging cost more than less sustainable alternatives. Add paying workers a living wage—still not the norm—and the total vastly exceeds the rock-bottom prices of fast fashion.
Yet green fashion can be affordable too.
It might seem counter-intuitive. However, you really can reconcile conscious fashion with the cost of living. In fact, making sustainable fashion choices can be part of your strategy for navigating these difficult times.
Here’s how to embrace circular fashion on a budget.
Circular fashion starts with you (and your closet)
Circular fashion begins at home. First, open your wardrobe, empty the drawers, and get everything into a big messy pile. Then, take stock.
For over a decade now, celebrity tidier Marie Kondo has been teaching us how to tidy our closets and our minds. Marie’s method involves auditing what you own and eliminating any items that do not “spark joy”. When we do this, Marie says we make space in our lives for calm and renewal. Bagmaya agrees.
More recently, we endured the lockdowns. For many of us, they were like a mass lesson in decluttering! With life reduced to a daily walk, all those outfits assembled in the wardrobe looked a lot less vital. Stuck within four walls, we had ample time to confront our possessions. Clearing out the old was unavoidable.
Now, in 2023, our lives are more normal. But many of us have found ourselves in new homes, new jobs, new surroundings. So perhaps it is time for another spring clean.
If your body, working life or fashion tastes have changed in recent years, there is no point hanging on to the old. Actually, it’s refreshing to set aside everything that does not currently serve you (or fit you). Then, you can proceed by donating, recycling, or selling those pieces.
The cycle starts with you.
Invest time in circular fashion to reap rewards
Starting your circular fashion journey costs nothing but your time. When you take a few hours to get acquainted with your wardrobe—and to rehome its unwanted contents—you lay the foundations of a better fashion future. And honestly, this future will cause you less hassle. Over time, it will cost you less money. Also, it will cost our planet much less in damaging emissions.
Charity shops, recycling banks, and online marketplaces are great destinations for things you do not wear. If you can, use local networks. Community selling groups are free of fees, commissions, and unecological packing materials.
Really, the initial investment is making some space in your schedule.
How to upcycle clothes on a budget
Of course, this big spring clean will bring you face to face with some forgotten items.
Like those jeans that fit again, against all the odds. Or, that pretty coloured top with the slightly weird cut. And the unfashionable yet flattering hat. All those not-quite-right but definitely-not-wrong clothes and shoes we relegate to the darker reaches of our wardrobes. With a few tweaks, they might just find their purpose!
And that’s where upcycling comes in.
Upcycling does not have to be fiddly. Indeed, there are plenty of ways to refashion old clothes for new usages without sewing a single stitch. But if you are a whizz with a needle, even better. For example, jumpers can become mittens and cowls. Or, denim can merge with florals to form funky patterned skirts or dresses. Perhaps you could make a quilt. Or cut strips off old garments and weave them into statement bracelets or necklaces. Maybe you could slice up old shirts and use them as dish rags. Get creative.
Truly, the hive mind of the internet is buzzing with ideas for your next upcycling project.
Understand circular fashion to maximise its benefits
As consumers, we might fear our impact will be limited. After all, we are not designers. We are not personally responsible for producing fashion items that conform to circular principles.
What’s more, on a budget, we lack resources to invest in high quality, big ticket pieces. With limited funds, we cannot buy from the high-end champions of circular fashion or even from the mid-range.
But, we can get to grips with the core tenets of circular fashion: durability, reusability, carbon neutrality, and ethics. By seeking to wear durable items and to reuse anything we do not need, we reduce our carbon footprint and contribute to a more ethical fashion future.
The great news is that we really are changing our ways. Various sources claim that the second-hand garments industry was worth more than fast fashion in 2022. By continuing to spread awareness and improve understanding, we can create lasting change.
Armed with this understanding, you will be well-equipped to avoid the pitfalls of greenwashing.
What is greenwashing and why does it matter?
Greenwashing is a PR tactic used by large brands to make products appear more environmentally friendly than they are.
It’s particularly prevalent in fast fashion retailers.
If you think about it, plenty of high street fashion retailers have a “sustainable” line of clothing in stores. These brands claim to use recycled or eco-friendly materials, or to be offset by green, carbon-neutralising actions.
Yet it’s been reported that some of these “eco” claims are exaggerated. Indeed, the not-for-profit Changing Markets Foundation found 59% of green claims by prominent UK and European retailers to be misleading.
Fast fashion can use greenwashing to keep us trapped in our old, linear, fast fashion habits. In other words, the messaging exists to keep you stuck on the conveyor belt of buying more and more clothes. That’s the last thing we need. And, it’s the opposite of what circular fashion is all about.
Focus on circularity to save your pennies and our Earth
Circular fashion really is better for us all—ethically and economically.
By reducing waste, combatting pollution, preventing tonnes of valuable materials from ending up in landfill, and establishing more ethical conditions for fashion workers, circular fashion helps combat the climate emergency.
If you are as passionate about circular fashion as we are at Bagmaya, share this article with your network below. Let them know that circular fashion on a budget really is easy.