6 Zero-Waste Fashion Tips for Men

6 Zero-Waste Fashion Tips for Men

Currently, the number one Google result for zero-waste men’s fashion is an article by Bea Johnson of Zero-Waste Home on fifty ways for a woman to wear a men’s flannel shirt. Now of course this isn’t a callout article on Bea Johnson or her amazing blog, but it does help illustrate that the zero-waste movement and the fashion industry both tend to skew towards women and feminine presenting people. Any cursory glance at any sustainability blog or group shows that men are quite a large part of the environmentalist movement too, and the last time I checked most men were still running around in clothes these days, so we’ve compiled this list of 6 tips for people on the masculine side to be more fashionable while minimizing their impact on the environment.

Don't chase trends, buy timeless quality.


We start out with an idea that's something of a truism at this point, but is especially worth repeating in fashion blogs that also focus on sustainability. Trying to be fashionable by following the latest trends is a trap for several reasons. First, the style you wear has to look good on you, not the celebrity of the week, and so you’re essentially gambling. Second, you risk looking a little like a try-hard. And finally, the fast fashion world is geared towards pushing cheap, disposable clothing on you, so you’ll be spending way too much money on lower-quality clothing that’ll end up in the landfill.

When looking for your style, look for things that have stuck around for a little. Things that looked good on your father and grandfather. Of course if some new trend happens to fit you there’s nothing wrong with buying it, and sticking to a classic look doesn’t mean you have to do everything “old school.” Just make sure that when you shop, you’re shopping for clothing you can see yourself looking good in for a long time. Paying a little more up front for a quality made product that will last you for a while will save your wallet in the long run, reduce your waste, and make you look even better.

DIY Beard Oil.

Growing out a beard can give you a powerful masculine look, a sophisticated intelligent look, or a confident driven look. Growing a beard can also make you look like a side character in a stoner comedy or Robin Williams escaping Jumanji if it’s not taken care of properly. A good beard oil can help tame that look by moisturizing the hair, preventing split ends, promoting healthy growth, and keeping the skin under the beard healthy. Plus, it smells good and keeps your whiskers soft for your partner. And all it takes is a few drops in the morning after you wash your face.

Plenty of zero-waste blogs give tips on DIY face masks, DIY shampoo, and DIY bath products, but did you know that beard oil is extremely easy to make on your own, letting you experiment with a styled, healthy beard without wasting plastic? Check out some recipes online, but as you’ll see, basically all you need is a carrier oil like jojoba oil or coconut oil and a few scents such as peppermint or lemon. Most of these ingredients can be easily bought in bulk, reducing or eliminating your plastic use while you save money. Plus, you’re experimenting will eventually land you the exact scent you want.

Find a Good Quality Upcycled bag

The difference between looking good and looking great is usually the attention to detail. Showing that you picked out something nice with more than just your clothes shows that you genuinely care about your presentation, and on the flip side, nothing looks more freshman-in-college than a nice suit and a nylon backpack. A good crossbody bag or laptop bag in an investment in a professional appearance that’ll keep your laptop secured as you head to work. And just as with clothes, buying the cheapest department store one just means you’ll be buying another one in a year. Quality looks and quality materials tend to go hand in hand, so make sure that if you’re getting a laptop bag, you get something that will last you a long time.

While you are looking for a quality bag, get something that is good for the environment as well. Upcycled bags such as these are made from unprocessed raw materials that were going to be cut away as scraps. These materials get a second life as an entirely new product, moving up the supply stream instead of down. In the future we may end up with an entirely circular economy, where there is almost no need for new materials and everything new is made from repurposed materials from an older product. Upcycling is the first step in that process

Wooden Phone Case

Another detail to get right is the cell phone case. In the age of the internet, it’s somehow both a detail that’s often overlooked yet one of the most visible items on your person. Now, it’s not like people are throwing you out of interviews or regretting dates with you because you have a cheap plastic cell phone case, but having something a little bit nicer and a little bit classy makes for a good conversation starter as well as improves your overall presentation.

So while you’re at it, why not eliminate a source of plastic in your life as well? Understandably, most plastic reduction campaigns are focused on eliminating single use plastics, but replacing any plastic with an all natural alternative is always a good thing (when the plastic case finally breaks of course). Switch to a wooden cell phone case for a beautiful and chic, plastic-less look. Bamboo and cork are also environmentally friendly options to look at too.

Second Hand Sports Coats and Blazers


Almost every thrift store and vintage shop will have a good collection of sports coats and blazers to choose from at very affordable prices, so this is one of the easiest and most accessible ways to improve your fashion while being environmentally conscious. These items can give you a very nice look to dress up your outfit without going too formal, and present a lot of options for styles and outfits.

Know which one you're getting. Sports coats are the ones in greys, tweeds, light blues, and whatever other colors and often come with extras such as elbow patches. They look good with a wide variety of outfits, including jeans and a turtleneck, a v-neck sweater, a casual button-up and chinos, a polo and khakis, and so on. You have room to layer and wear thicker tops. A blazer is a slightly nicer version of the sports coat and should be kept to more formal side of the previous list, although a nice pair of dark colored jeans works really well with them. Don’t wear too many layers with the blazer, and opt for thinner button ups or a (very, very nice solid colored) t-shirt. They’re great for semi-formal occasions or for just wanting to look good. Finally, suit jackets are only for suits and shouldn’t be worn without the entire suit.

Also be sure to get a good fit. Again, sports jackets will be a bit looser than the blazer, but both should still fit you well. Make sure that the shoulders aren’t too long or too short, which is probably the most important fitting tip. The sleeve should be short enough not to cover a cuff worn under it but not so long that the cuff under it is entirely visible. Button it to make sure it's not too tight or too loose, even if you don’t plan on buttoning it.

One final blazer and jacket tip, match the colors of your jacket and the layers under it with your natural contrast level. Your contrast level is how similar or different your skin color is to the color of your eyes and hair. People with high contrasts tend to look better with jacket and shirt combos that also have a high light and dark contrast, where as people with a natural low to medium contrast (such as in the picture above) tend to look better with low to medium contrast levels. The only exception is people with extremely dark hair and skin, who tend to look better with high contrast color combinations as it helps accent their eyes and their smile.

High-Quality, Sustainable Shoes.

Finally, we need to talk shoes. Women tend to love shoes but men continually under appreciate how shoes can work for them. A good pair of shoes can bring any look from decent to fantastic, and also show that you took the time to really get a nice outfit together. Why? Okay, so you can think of an outfit as being bookended by your face and shoes. Most clothing is designed to draw the eyes up towards the face of the wearer, but this then makes the feet a counterbalancing point for the head as well as being the foundation for the outfit. Long story short: your shoes get a disproportionate amount of attention, so they deserve extra time.  

Getting a good pair of shoes is also the environmental thing to do. Fast fashion is at work in the shoe world as well, so a lot of shoes on the market these days are held together by glue and prayers and will last you a year at most. A higher quality shoe can be taken to repair shops and kept looking new for literally decades. While looking for a new shoe, check out a company like Mamahuhu that ethically and sustainably sources their shoes to further minimize their impact. If you’re looking for something bolder than a standard brown or black but not as bold as something like the “mushroom” colored shoe, try a subdued blue or deep red. These colors get you all the uniqueness of wearing a colored shoe but work with a surprising amount of outfit combinations. A rich shade of oxblood/burgundy red can basically fit wherever brown shoes would fit.

With these six tips you’ll look fantastic and the planet will thank you for it. Share these tips around and spread the love, and be sure to like our Facebook and Instagram pages while you’re at it to keep up with more eco-tips.

1 comment

  • Thank you for this! We need more awareness concerning zero waste and sustainbility in general for men :)
    Please don’t stop sharing more tips


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