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How to be Sustainable and Eco-Focused with Your College Wardrobe

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Written by CB Community

You don’t need to be an Environmental Science major to care about the carbon footprint you place on the world. More and more people—especially Gen Z college students with mounting concern over what the future holds—are taking it upon themselves to learn about the devastating impact humans have on the environment, including what can be done to stop it.

If you’re among the growing number of eco-conscious global citizens, then you should know there are plenty of ways to go green as a college student. Riding your bike to class or carpooling to campus, packing plastic-free lunches, and joining an organization like Greenpeace that fights for environmental justice are a few easy examples.

But you can also go above and beyond by carefully considering every purchase you make, from the food you buy to the clothes you wear. Today’s post discusses how you can be more sustainable and eco-conscious with your wardrobe selection. Let’s dive in!

Step 1: Choose Eco-Friendly Materials

Not all fabrics are created the same. Cotton textiles, for example, require a massive amount of water to produce. Not only is cotton extremely taxing on water and land resources, but it also contributes to pollution through the use of pesticides and insecticides that are no good for the environment.

Next time you go shopping, choose clothing and undergarments that are made with more sustainable materials, such as bamboo, that are far friendlier to the environment. There are all sorts of brands that offer better choices, like Boody USA’s bamboo boxers. Not only are they silky soft to the touch, keeping you comfortable during long study sessions, but they’re also packed with wonderful benefits for the environment. Fear not, ladies; they have plenty of designs for women who want to go green, too!

Step 2: Invest in Quality Companies

Unlike trendy clothes, wardrobe staples like plain shirts will probably never go out of style. This means they’re less likely to be replaced. Besides, wardrobe staples can be mixed and matched to create a variety of fresh looks, so they can fit any style you want.

In order to understand what an impact the clothing industry has on the environment, it’s critical to educate yourself about the consequences of fast fashion. Shopping at stores like Forever 21 means supporting companies that outsource their manufacturing to companies overseas where labor laws don’t exist. The workers who make our clothes are subject to horrible conditions, and the factories they work in emit massive amounts of C02, thus worsening the greenhouse gas effect leading to climate change.

Not only that, but the high-volume, fast fashion industry contributes to extreme amounts of waste. The products are often poorly made with little quality control, meaning they can’t withstand much wear and tear. That cheap sweater might help you stretch your college budget, but chances are, it’ll snag, unravel, or break down in some way or another much faster than one that’s well-made. You’ll have to buy a replacement, leading to a steeper price tag in the long run—not to mention, the inefficiently used textiles contributing to landfills that are already brimmed beyond capacity.

It’ll cost more upfront, but you should make the switch from cheap stitching to well-made apparel that’s produced with humanitarian and environmental ethics in mind. Madewell denim is more expensive than the polyester blends you’ll find in budget department stores elsewhere, but their jeans will last for years. Plus, it’ll help you avoid the plastic consumption that’s leading to the contamination of our oceans, lands, and even the air we breathe!

At the end of the day, aim for quality over quantity, and build a wardrobe of classic staples that can sustain itself for years to come.

Step 3: Thrift, Upcycle, and Resell

As college students, many of us are swayed by the latest fashion trends and feel the need to swap styles on a frequent basis—which can be hard to do if you’re working with minimalist basics. Instead of heading to the store for a new Henley thermal or boho bag, do the environment a favor by thrifting instead!

You can find plenty of on-trend styles at second-hand stores like Buffalo Exchange or by shopping on apps like Poshmark. These businesses allow you to buy, sell, or trade clothes with college students in your age range, saving you money and minimizing environmental waste. You can also get crafty by upcycling once-loved garments and turning them into something new, like a tote or a handbag.


We may be young, but we’re old enough to know what’s right. These are just three ways you can be more eco-focused by building a sustainable wardrobe. For more great college tips, check out the other blogs on College Basics.

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CB Community

Passionate members of the College Basics community that include students, essay writers, consultants and beyond. Please note, while community content has passed our editorial guidelines, we do not endorse any product or service contained in these articles which may also include links for which College Basics is compensated.