The 5 R's of Sustainable Fashion - Abbie James

The 5 R's of Sustainable Fashion

The 5 R's of Sustainable Fashion

We are going to delve into the realm of fashion through the lens of the 5 R's of sustainable fashion. Like a little set of guidelines that act as a  reminder to stay on track. The 5 R's help us look at our wardrobes intentionally and with respect while encouraging us to get back to basics and move away from the throw away culture that has helped fashion be the third most polluting industry on the planet.  


The notion of having an expansive wardrobe teeming with fleeting trends is completely unsustainable and frankly, a little pase. When you focus on quality over quantity, your wardrobe becomes a cherished haven of pieces that make you feel good, rather than a stuffed-to-the-brim rack full of clothes that you don’t wear. 

We throw away 92 million tonnes of clothing every single year and if this trend continues on the trajectory that we are on it is estimated to increase to 134 million tonnes. The rate that we are consuming clothes and in turn throwing them away is at an astronomical high and needs to change, now. There is a reason why reduce is the first R, becuase it's so damn important for all of us to reduce the amount of clothing we are buying. 

Not only does our overconsumption affect the environment, it also directly affects our stress levels. Have you ever looked in your wardrobe full of clothing but could not find anything to wear? This is called choice overload. When you consider that adults on average make 35,000 choices a day, having too many clothes in your wardrobe actually makes it harder to make the choice of what to wear every morning, and I'm all for easier mornings!

When you reduce the amount of clothing you are buying you can use the money in different ways that actually add benefit to your life and the planet. Win win!


Since 2020, clothing production has doubled but the amount we utilize these clothes has decreased drastically. This is where “shop your wardrobe” is so important. Instead of adding a new item when you want a new look, create a new look out of what you already have and reduce your fashion consumption. As I mentioned above, this is easier done when your wardrobe is full of quality pieces that last instead of being overpacked with on-trend pieces that go out of date very quickly. 

We are wearing 80% of our clothing 20% of the time. To help utilize the remaining 80% that is not seeing the light of day experiement with new looks, plan your outfit ahead of time, working around a piece that hasn't been worn for a while. If you are feeling uncreative in this area the world is your oyster when it comes to all of the very talented stylists out there who can virtually help you make yur wardrobe work for you.

Please don't throw out your fast fashion just because they were not sustainable when you purchased them. Remember, the most sustainable item you can wear is what you already own, and that includes fast fashion.


Embracing sustainability in fashion goes hand in hand with embracing craftsmanship. Treat ALL of the garments in your closet as you would a high-end piece.  It increases their life, ensures they look their best and means you wear them more. Repair your shoes at a cobbler, find a good tailor that will hem your pants and repair tears in your clothes, remove stains and de-pill your woolen jumpers. Restore and revitalize like your grandparents did because each piece in your wardrobe deserves to look it’s best and in turn you will look your best too. 

A little add on, when youvisit your tailor repairing clothes, take any pieces that are not fitting you correctly and have them tailored to your body shape. You can thank me later!

The manner of how you treat your possessions is a direct reflection of how you feel about yourself and the respect that you deserve. Treat your clothes with respect and you in turn are showing respect to yourself. .


There are times when a piece just isn’t working for you. If altering or restyling isn’t an option then these pieces are best off finding a new home. Through reselling, we extend the legacy of our garments, as the saying goes, your trash is someone else's treasure. I would also like to add to this point, it’s not only reselling but gifting as well. I love it when a friend brings out a box of clothes she doesn’t want at a dinner party and we all rummage through it and take some pieces home. Just don’t gift without asking first as it can come off like you are treating your friends like an thrift shop donation bin, which nobody likes.

My favourite online sites are Ebay, Facebook Marketplace, Depop, The Real Real and Vestaire Collective, there are so many more and it's never been easier to resell your unwanted clothing. And if you prefer doing it in person, head over to your local resale shop and they will give you a commission of the sale price.


When garments reach the end of their life and can no longer be worn, it’s time they embark on their own recycling journey. You can do this yourself at home and turn your old t-shirts into rags or makeup removal pads. But whatever you do, don’t send unwearable clothing to thrift stores, that is just offloading your problem onto someone else and adds to the landfill problem.

We recycle through Upparel who recycles everything on shore in either Australia or New Zealand. I have taken old sneakers to Rebel Sport where they recycle them for you here in Australia. A quick google search will give you some options in your neighborhood. Just be conscious of the recycle bins in fast fashion chains as investigations have seen these recycling programs dumping clothing in landfill which you don’t want. A quick google search for the recycling company they use will help you decide if it is authentically being recycled or not.

The 5 R's of sustainable fashion epitomize not just a methodology, but a philosophy that encapsulates the essence of conscious fashion. Remember that it is possible and much easier than you think to have ethics and aesthetics aligning, but it may mean we need to reevaluate what is important to us. Constant trend swapping and having a wear it once attitude does not make sustainable fashion an easy option, and frankly can lead to an unfulfilling life. It is about having the confidence to own your own style and walk your own path.

If you have any more ideas that you would like to see on this list, let us know on our Instagram