A Beginner’s Guide to Zero Waste Living: Personal Style By Moji Igun

CURA zero waste Hanae Collection on models

Baguette bags. Bucket hats. Flare leg jeans. Scrunchies. No, this isn’t my shopping list from 2005. It’s just a few of the top trends of the current moment. We’ve seen this pattern before. Fashion trends flow in predictable cycles. What was popular two decades ago is now back in style. While it’s fun to stay on top of the latest and greatest, fast fashion retailers are successfully driving overconsumption by consistently introducing new styles. Some “seasons” are as short as one week long! We’re encouraged to try our best to keep up and it can have us buying clothes in January that are out of style by June.

As I settle into adulthood, I’m finding comfort in investing in my personal style which evolves just as I do. In developing your sense of personal style, you can more easily resist the pull of fast fashion and impulse buys. 

Fashion is one of the most wasteful industries that exists. According to Clean Clothes Campaign, three out of five fast fashion items end up in a landfill. As individuals, we can start to shift away from this extractive industry by creating a capsule wardrobe. A capsule wardrobe is a small but versatile selection of clothing and you don’t necessarily have to be minimalist to make this concept work for you.

The goal of a capsule wardrobe is to shop for looks that can easily be mixed and matched instead of buying single pieces that catch your eye. I’m currently in the process of building my own capsule wardrobe. Here are some of the first things you’ll want to explore as you figure out the selection of pieces that will work for you:

  • Choose a foundational color palette - Choose a handful of colors that you love to wear and work well together. I took inventory of my closet and noticed I was most drawn to olive green, rust, navy, grey, black, and cream. 

  • Identify silhouettes + styles that fit your body- T-shirt dresses, crop leg pants, and oversized cardigans are always a safe bet for my body type so I stick to what I know works for me.

  • Search for functionality based on your lifestyle - Most of the time, I’m working remotely so the majority of my wardrobe is for working around the house or in coffee shops. 

@cc_found vintage white blouse
@cc_found vintage yellow heels
@cc_found vintage white high wasited shorts

To find style inspiration, I made a Pinterest board to see the colors, shapes, and styles side-by-side. Seeing everything together helps me edit and refine my vision even further. Once you have a more solid idea of what kind of capsule wardrobe you’re looking to build, take inventory of your closet. Get rid of things that no longer spark joy. Here are a few ways to cleanse your closet with sustainability in mind:

  • Mend small rips and tears or, for more challenging repairs, visit your local tailor

  • Resell items on Depop, Poshmark, your local consignment store, or just by posting on your Instagram stories

  • Plan a clothing swap with a group of friends or giftyour clothes to a neighbor

  • As a last resort, if the clothes are items you would still wear if only they fit into your new capsule wardrobe, donate to your local thrift store or an online thrift store like Thredup

Models wearing the zero waste Hanae collection in moss green

After you’ve cleared out items that no longer suit you, make a list of the new-to-you pieces that you want to bring into your life. Just like having a game plan for your weekly trip to the grocery store helps you stay in line, so will a clothing wish list. Second hand and vintage shops are perfect for finding high-quality wardrobe staples and are full of treasures if you’re open to exploring. Cura has a curated selection of vintage clothing and if you’re looking for luxury brands, check out The Real Real. When you do decide to invest in something new, prioritize brands that value sustainable fashion practices like creating small batches to prevent unsold overstock, utilizing pre-consumer textile waste, designing pieces designed to last, and paying their garment workers fair wages. Cura’s new house collection, Hanae, embodies all of these traits and more.

For shoes, jewelry, and accessories, support small businesses who create beautiful pieces with the planet in mind. For your feet, browse through this guide to ethical and sustainable shoes created by Good on You or start a search on eBay for a pre-loved pair. Valerie Madison Fine Jewelry creates pieces for every occasion from recycled metals. Consider these handwoven scarves made from recycled materials by Fair Anita and this face mask made from pre-consumer fabric scraps by Tonlé. Finally, for special occasions or if you’re just in the mood for experimenting, you can rent clothes from services like Rent the Runway and Armoire.

You may be noticing a pattern by now with these zero waste beginner’s guides. Give yourself time and space to find the right pieces for you. Build up your capsule wardrobe slowly and with intention. And if any part of this process feels overwhelming to you, reach out to Kiko at Cura for personal styling support. With a minimum purchase, Kiko will help you curate items that can help you develop your own personal style with pieces that are artful and ethical.

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