Fashion, but make it sustainable: A Canberra Girl’s Guide | HerCanberra

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Fashion, but make it sustainable: A Canberra Girl’s Guide

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This week climate activist Greta Thunberg appeared on the front cover of Scandinavian Vogue to call for a rethink on fast fashion.

“You cannot mass produce fashion or consume ‘sustainably’ as the world is shaped today,” she said of her decision to appear in the magazine.

Accusing the fast fashion industry of massive greenwashing, she is drawing attention to the impact that our insatiable appetite for clothes is having on the climate emergency and asking us to think before we buy.

With that in mind, and following on from our sell-out sustainable fashion swap last week, we bring you an up-to-date, but not exhaustive (so by all means hit us up if you have tips or ideas!) guide on dressing more sustainably in Canberra—everything from where to buy second-hand to the best places to donate no-longer-worn clothes.

Emma Batchelor, author of Building a Conscious Wardrobe (and other fun things) says her top tips for dressing more ethically include:

  • Swapping clothes with friends or attending organised clothes swaps like the HerCanberra one, which we will be repeating in the near future—stay tuned!
  • Shopping pre-loved where possible so here is our guide to ten of the best Canberra Op Shops.
  • Shopping local labels and supporting local businesses. Here is our pick of 12 local designers you need to know.
  • Taking into account materials, production and your values when acquiring anything new. Here is a good guide on ethical fabric to get you thinking.
  • Caring for what you have and thoughtfully disposing of what you no longer need.

Taylor Pitsilos, stylist and co-owner of Designer Op Shop Emporium, suggests:

  • Selling pre-loved goods on Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree.
  • Donating work-appropriate clothing to Communities@Work who accepts donations for people trying to secure a job.
  • Save good quality items for St Vinnies or The Salvos bearing in mind the work it takes them to sort and move on inappropriate donations.

The Consumer to Conscious: How can we build a sustainable wardrobe? Panel. (L-R) Emma Macdonald, Emma Batchelor, Taylor Pitsilos and Debby Harrington.

While there is much debate about the relative merits of recycling clothing through fast fashion outlets such as H&M and Zara, some of which you can read here and here, both stores do take old clothes which they promise to recycle.

Sheridan at the Canberra Outlet Centre in Fyshwick takes old cotton sheets and towels from any brand for recycling.

If you have a number of clothes or shoes, or even handbags, hats, swimwear, sewing scraps, curtains, couch covers, or wetsuits, then innovative company Upparel promises nothing is ever sent off-shore or dumped in landfill.

The HerCanberra Sustainable Fashion Swap.

The Melbourne-based company won the National Retail Association Sustainability Champion of the Year last year for its programs whereby 65 per cent of items it receives in new or fit-for-wear condition are prepared to be passed onto Save The Children, Sacred Heart Mission, Ready Set Australia, St Kilda Mums and Good360 Australia. The remaining 35 per cent are assessed for their suitability to be up-cycled into new items or recycled into new materials.

You simply pay for a box to be collected, starting at $25.

If you are handy with a needle and thread, check out our guide for some fun fabric upcycling projects. We also love the ethos behind this local company tackling the “plastic bags” of the fashion industry, stockings.

Have we got you thinking about a more sustainable wardrobe? We can all make better choices, and we need to in light of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which has been described as a “Code Red for humanity”.

The HerCanberra Sustainable Fashion Swap.

Did we miss anything? If you have any suggestions for making fashion kinder on the environment or know of individuals or local groups who are making a difference, please let us know at

Photography: 5 Foot Photography of the HerCanberra Sustainable Fashion Swap

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