Sustainable fashion

Australia is the second-largest textile consumer per capita in the world, behind the United States of America.  Approximately 6,000kgs of textiles and clothes are discarded in Australian landfills every 10 minutes, and according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics an average of 22.7kg are discarded per person per year.

Sustainable fashion aims to reduce the harmful impact on the environment and people’s health as a result of the fashion industry and our choices as consumers.

Here are some tips to help you make sustainable fashion choices:

  1. Reduce your clothing consumption. Organise your wardrobe regularly to see what you need, and think before you buy. Swap with friends and family and borrow clothes when you can instead of buying new ones.
  2. Support the second hand economy. Buy clothes from op shops, participate in clothes swaps, rent your clothes, use Buy, Swap, Sell groups or selling websites to buy and sell your clothes in good condition.
  3. Mend your clothes and give them a new life instead of disposing of them. Here is an easy tutorial to get you started with some basic repairs.
  4. Look after your clothes so that they last longer. Rather than buying cheap clothes regularly, spend money on a few quality items that will last. Extend their life by reducing the amount you wash (spot clean instead) and following the washing instructions - for example, washing jeans inside out. Wash your clothes on a cold wash when you can to reduce wear and tear and save energy.
  5. Upcycle your clothes at home. There are plenty of projects online, from turning t-shirts into shopping bags and plant holders to recycling your jeans into bags and bracelets. Browse Google or Pinterest for inspiration. If they can’t be upcycled, consider turning them into rags for around the home or find a place that recycles clothing.
  6. Buy your clothes from ethical businesses. The Ethical Fashion Guide will help you with your purchasing decisions. Choose clothing made of natural fibres such as cotton, linen, bamboo or hemp over synthetic materials (which are derived from fossil fuels).
  7. Wash your clothes less. Plastic microfibres are released from synthetic clothes into our homes and also into our washing machines, then into waterways and the ocean.
  8. Contact your brands and ask about their clothing production processes. Consumers from all over the world are calling for fairer, safer working conditions for those who are employed in the fashion industry, and manufacturing processes that don’t harm the environment. The industry is starting to listen.
  9. Check out the War on Waste Action Toolkit (inspired by the ABC's popular TV series) for more great tips on ways you can reduce clothing and textile waste.

Interested in learning more about the fashion industry?



  • RiverBlue: Uncovers how the fashion industry plays part in destroying our world's rivers. 
  • The True Cost: Filmmaker Andrew Morgan travels around the globe to see the people who make clothes for the worlds fashion. 
  • Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. Examines the many levels of minimalism by looking inside the lives of minimalists from various walks of life. 
  • Green Warriors: A reporter teams up with international scientists to investigate the causes and consequences of the textile factory pollution of the Citarum river in Indonesia, the world's most polluted river. 
  • Sweatshop: Deadly Fashion. When hip fashion-bloggers swap shoes with Cambodian textile workers. Free streaming online.
  • Yvon Chouinard: Patagonia, Growing a Sustainable Company (Interview Series) Free streaming online. 
  • The Price of Cotton: The international cotton market and the disastrous consequences for cotton farmers both in Texas and in Mali. Free streaming online.