Zero Waste Clothing Hacks

Photo, Paris, by my friend Sara

Water stained leather
Spray with equal parts vinegar and water and rub until the stain is gone. Alternately, carefully dampen the entire shoe, starting from the spot and working outward.

Soiled leather clothing
Handwash gently in cold water with moisturizing soap, such as Aleppo. Rinse with a bit of vinegar. Roll in a towel, gently squeeze, and dry flat. Never put in the dryer.

Stuck zipper
Rub a bar of soap, olive or coconut oil, crayon, graphite pencil, wax, or chapstick up and down both sides of the zipper to grease. Follow by cleaning with vinegar and a soft cloth.

Exposed underwire
Moleskin won't prevent it from popping out again, so sew whip stitches over the hole or patch on a piece of felt or old t-shirt. You may wish to remove the wire entirely.

Escaped drawstring
Attach one end to a safety pin and feed it through. You can also try looping the string through a pen's pocket clip before rethreading, leading with the tip of the pen.

Sagging or color fading
Use a capful of vinegar in the rinse cycle. You can also wash items inside out, but this may affect cleaning. Add 1/2 cup salt in wash cycle to fix dye.

Broken zipper pull
Replace with a key ring, strip of fabric, or beaded pull. You may need to replace the slider entirely or remove it with pliers before sliding it back onto the teeth.

Ring around the collar
I know how to remove it (baking soda) but the only preventive thing I can think of is spot-cleaning. Or sew old t-shirt strips to the inside collar.

Fuzzy lint balls
Carefully use a pumice stone, sweater stone, sweater brush, or razor. Try to use a safety razor instead of a disposable, which can clog and pull up more wool.

Scuffed leather
Buff with the inside of a banana peel or a tiny bit of coconut or olive oil and a soft, lint-free cloth. They won't go rancid if you clean shoes regularly.

Scuffed or dirty suede
Scrub gently with stale bread or baking soda and an old toothbrush. I should ask Daphné how safe my shoe ideas are first, because they might be really terrible.

Tight shoes
Put big socks on, then wear them to bed or around the house. The frozen water or hairdryer tricks never worked for me. Many shoe stores stretch even patent leather pairs for free via machine.

Remove stains
Use an ice cube to remove gum from clothing. To clean patent leather, spray with vinegar and wipe with a lint-free cloth. Click here to remove salt stains and here for a zero waste stain removal chart.

Wear no-show socks and tights or use moleskin on the inside of straps and heels. I sometimes put old strips of fabric along the ankles instead of moleskin.

Shedding sweater
Washing seemed to stop shedding on my furriest sweater. Alternately, place them in the freezer in a cloth bag overnight, then shake them out, or freeze dry outside like the Greenlanders.

Sweater snags
Never cut the snag. Turn the garment inside out and use a crochet hook or blunt needle to push the snag back into the fabric, weaving it between threads.

Stocking runs
Put them in the freezer first- I feel like this makes them last way longer, but maybe it's not a real thing. Wear no-show socks over tights to reduce strain on the seams. Rub a bar of soap over runs as soon as they start. Any sticky substance, like sugar water or jam, apparently helps too. If you eventually develop runs in two pairs of pantyhose, cut off the holey legs for tawashi. Take one of the remaining pantyhose legs and feed it through the hole of the other pair. Scarlett Johansson's stylist once said they save the waists on the shot pantyhose and use them like Spanx.

The easiest way I know to prevent little t-shirt holes is to tuck them in, or reinforce the waist with interfacing. For darning and hand sewing tutorials, click here. For zero-waste ways to extend the life span of other clothes and accessories, click here. My favorite guide on fixing clothes is the aptly-titled and wonderfully illustrated Fix Your Clothes by Raleigh Briggs.

Paris to Go

Plastic Free, Zero Waste Nutrition

I'm no doctor, my last multivitamin was in gummy form, and I haven't had a prune since all the Golden Girls were still alive, so take the following with a grain of salt: Sometimes vegan diets are imbalanced. It seems the culprits are normally too much sugar, favoring grains over legumes, and going overboard with trendy foods like kale and quinoa (kale is the Jennifer Lawrence of cruciferous vegetables. I like it just fine, but don't really get why everyone's crazy for it). Getting my daily protein requirement is easy; I'm told a good rule of thumb is the same amount in grams as your weight in kilos. Finding plastic-free, zero waste supplements is another story. I prefer whole foods for absorption, like chaga mushroom for Vitamin A, hemp oil for Omega 3, pumpkin seeds for lysine, or one Brazil nut for selenium daily. However, whole foods present a host of problems. For instance, biotin, choline, and chromium are not precisely measured in foods. The body can use only about 50 percent phosphorus from vegetable sources. Sea vegetables, which are rich sources of iodine, may contain far more than is safe for ingestion. Nutrient content of fruits, nuts, and vegetables varies depending on the soil they’re grown on and irrigation and fertilization practices. Finally, absorption is affected by the way foods are prepared.

Everyone's needs are different, but for me, getting plant based nutrients from whole foods is the best option. I don't seem to absorb supplements well, yet experienced a surge in energy and health when I started eating this way. It may be too early to tell if the effects of my vegan and gluten-free diet are sustainable (I feel I must emphasize that I'm genetically obliged to eat vegan and gluten-free. It's not a choice). I do know my hair and nails are growing twice as fast now- my friends tease me about my Tony Montana pinky nail- and my skin cleared up. That's good enough for me! The table below started out as only the stuff I actually eat, which is why whole grains don't figure in much. I eventually added things like tempeh or soy. Note: Some people need supplements no matter what they eat. Common examples include vitamin D2 from yeast or Vitamin D3 from lichen, fortified nut and seed milks, and phosphorus.

Sources are Harvard (that's why the daily values are for women), One Green Planet's Plant Based Nutrition series, Linus Pauling, and a bunch of Cleveland Clinic stuff from the nutritionist my doctor made me go to. According to my doctor, my blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels are all great. Apparently your DHA levels will be good if you cook with lots of olive oil and eat avocadoes, flaxseed, seaweed, etc.

Sample Meals: What I Eat

One whole roasted beet (skin on- I love the tail)
Half an avocado 
A roasted sweet potato- if my stepfather's cooking, sweet potato hash cooked in olive or coconut oil
A handful of cherry tomatoes
Collard greens or spinach and mushrooms sautéed in olive oil

A giant salad (225 grams) with carrots, hummus, probably avocado, and garbanzo beans
Homemade balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette
An apple
Goji berries

A vegetable curry with squash, green beans, onions, garlic, peas, chili, lentils, and coconut milk
A pint of berries

An orange

Two cabbage steaks
Beans sautéed with celery, mushrooms, and onions
Roasted cauliflower and potatoes
A chickpea burger with tomatoes on a bed of arugula with pesto


Homemade zero waste vegan peanut butter cup, which is just melted chocolate, coconut oil, and natural peanut butter. Somehow I always make them as big as my hand so I can only eat one at a time

I don't understand how girls can live on just a smoothie for breakfast. Smoothies are beverages, not breakfast! If my grandma is Vitamixing it will have an avocado, two kiwis, an apple, a bag of spinach, and maybe cabbage or something random like that. If I'm going to the juice press down the street it usually has radish, pear, cucumber, fennel, and some other tasty things.

The nutritionist's main concern with me is that I eat too much, but I've gradually gained strength and muscle tone and my feet are no longer always freezing cold since adopting this diet. For the liver, milk thistle and mulberry work great for me, and white willow bark eliminates my pollution-related migraines. But this is my own experience. Everyone is different, and I'd never want anyone to risk their health in the name of zero waste, so please consult a physician before discontinuing or adopting a new regimen. If there are any nutrients I missed please let me know- I'll try to find a vegan, unpackaged supplement alternative. For zero waste medicine, click here.

Paris to Go

Sustainable Swimsuit Guide

The last time somebody stayed in my apartment while I was away, my bathing suits disappeared- all except one bikini top, which I forgot in a Norwegian sauna. N'importe quoi. I bought them years ago, and my Victoria's Secret bikini (that I once, hilariously, thought resembled something a Bond girl would wear) provided unseemly, tourniquet-like compression. Now I'm hunting for another one, and it's agonizing (update: I found a secondhand American Apparel bikini that does not budge. Even when I jump into wadis. Also, I've already heard good things about Reformation swim). For someone who hates shopping, I tend to overanalyze prospective purchases. I don't think I buy much, but I consider everything, which yielded the body of research below. Finding a plastic-free swimsuit is hard, so I looked for designers who adhere to Oeko-Tex standards, using recycled fabrics, biodegradable packaging, hand dye techniques, vertical integration, and ethical / fair trade labor. Every synthetic item washed releases around 1,900 plastic microfibers, making it more eco-friendly to DIY a swimsuit from wool, hemp, or cotton. Alternately, you could channel Taylor Swift circa 2014 in a vintage, thrifted, or deadstock bikini. Since The Real Real is annoying me lately- having reached Vestiaire Collective-levels of substandard quality control and nonexistent customer service- here are 30+ ethical brands for every budget and style (includes men's and children's swimwear).

Uses EcoLux jersey, derived from recycled nylon fiber and manufactured in California. Incorporates linen and waterless digital printing in production. Has the distinct advantage of being worn by Gigi Hadid. 
100% recycled polyamide swimsuits made in London from discarded fishnets or carpet tiles. Auria uses upcycled thread and works with Net-Works to put destructive nets back into the supply chain.
Ethical swimwear designed and produced in New York from Italian fabric. Each minimalist collection is produced in limited quantities from high quality (organic, where possible) textiles.

Minimalist brand based in Denmark and Toulouse working exclusively with small family factories in Portugal and France. Focuses on organic, natural fibers and uses only Oeko-Tex or GOTS dyes. 
GOTS-certified, fair trade organic cotton swimwear company committed to social responsibility and reducing both water consumption and fertilizer usage. Workers receive a fair wage and realistic schedule.
ethical bikini
Zero Maria Cornejo
Stitched with recycled yarn, produced with eco-conscious textiles, including pre / post-consumer waste. Cut from a single piece of material where possible, made in NYC or small, independent Italian factories.

Derived from 100% regenerated polyamide by Econyl, using discarded fishnets from the ocean to make yarn. Features recycled paper hang tags; packaged in compostable material.
fair trade organic cotton swimwear bio luz
Ruby Moon Swimwear
Ethical, limited edition recycled nylon swimwear made from used fishing nets. Chlorine resistant, reversible styles reduce emissions by 42%. Net profits lent to female entrepreneurs globally.
ethical bikini
Luna Beach Swimwear
One of a kind hand-dyed swimsuits designed in Barcelona. Their website makes vague generalizations about charity and protecting marine life, but I'm told the cute shibori bikinis are produced ethically.

Handmade in Hawaii from Italian fabric, recycled fishing nets, and organic natural fabrics including hemp, modal, and linen. Part of the Healthy Seas Initiative and 1% For the Planet.
zero waste bikini swimwear curlee bikini
Curlee Bikini
*NOW DEFUNCT* Organic and remnant textiles for handmade, padding-and-underwire-free swimwear. Curlee Bikini aims to be zero waste, repairing swimwear and accepting old swimsuits back for reuse.
A favorite of Rihanna, Jungle Gurl cuts from vintage fabrics or vintage garments for one of a kind upcycled swimsuits. The eco-conscious designer collects materials on her travels, ensuring no two are the same.

base range ethical sustainable swimwear made in france
Shapes in the Sand
Transparent Australian company using Econyl and 100% regenerated yarn from fishing nets and discarded clothing diverted from landfills. Waterless printing process, made in Australia.
Ethical and sustainable company working with local fiber growers to ensure humane practices, like rotational grazing. Artisans hand dye with wild plants and crochet at home. Featured in The Fashionable Selby.
ethical bikini
Emobi Swimwear
Swimwear made in Australia supporting up to a DD cup. All prints are original and designed in-house, utilizing environmentally friendly water based dyes, reducing their impact on beaches and waterways.

base range ethical sustainable swimwear made in france
Men's and women's "land to sea" eco-friendly swimwear featuring recycled polyester from plastic bottles. Utilizes hand dyeing techniques and works closely with manufacturers.
zero waste bikini swimwear curlee bikini
Eco-swimwear known for the Little Recycled Bikini, made of tree-free recycled fibers. A portion of proceeds supports various charitable organizations, such as The Rainforest Partnership.
Manufactured in a facility dedicated to reducing emissions, water pollution, and waste. Bikinis made from post-consumer recycled materials with reusable, recyclable, or biodegradable packaging.

Uses only post consumer waste materials or recycled lycra, reducing energy 80% compared to virgin lycra. They also implement a take back program to divert old swimsuits from landfills.
Maaji helps restore Colombian watersheds by replanting native species in areas affected by violence. They promote social construction in vulnerable areas, working to preserve topsoil and habitats.
ethical bikini
Vege Threads
Committed to providing organic, ethical basics using ACO or natural plant dyes and GOTS-certified material. A portion of profits provide food, school supplies, and bedding for needy families in North Bali.

Limited edition designs with sustainable and ethical production. Swimwear is made in a a light, bright, ethical atelier in Rio de Janeiro where seamstresses are paid a living wage and provided transport.
zero waste bikini swimwear curlee bikini
Spunkychic the Label
Affordable, long-lasting swimsuits manufactured in an ethical, fair wage factory using recycled or Textex certified materials.
ethical bikini
Liar Swimwear
Ethical, locally sourced and manufactured vintage inspired swimwear. Focuses on reducing carbon footprint and workplace exploitation as well as minimizing waste and pollution from dyes or other materials.

elle evans recycled sustainable swimwear
Odina Surf
Eco-friendly swimsuits and activewear made in the USA from recycled or reclaimed materials. Odina Surf uses organic cotton tags, boasts a solar powered website, and supports Reef Check and Ocean Girl.
zero waste bikini swimwear curlee bikini
Aqua Green
Made in America with FSC certified recycled garment and hang tags. Fabrics derived from post consumer waste and renewable sources such as coffee grounds, corn, and biodegradable Eco-Cell foam.
zero waste bikini swimwear curlee bikini
Summerlove Swimwear
Affordable Econyl swimwear produced using pre and post consumer waste, featured in SI Swimsuit Edition 2016. Shipped in reusable, recycled mailers. Member of 1% for the Planet.

.. ..TheThese These last recommendations, I really like, but I don't want to mess up the formatting of the rest of the post: Cocodune knits recyclable fabric for their supportive tops and sag-proof bottoms in Italy. Try them on at home for free, then pay for what you keep. Beyonce-approved Prism swimwear is handmade (which can mean a lot of things) in Italy, and as far as I can tell does not use illegal Chinese labor. I'm in love with the blush Praslin top and Hollywood bottoms, but I have the fashion sense of a 70 year old woman. Fables by Barrie makes sweatshop-free pinup swimsuits in San Diego. Fae Swimwear uses recycled materials and my friend Sofi got a bikini from them that is minimalist and really cute. Manakai is made in the USA from regenerated nylon, keeping plastic out of precious oceans. Ma Ptite Culotte was, at one time, made in France. Last year, the designer said she would not be able to continue using French ateliers for production. Anek Dot Boutique in Berlin makes sustainable swimwear and lingerie. Finally, Kiini are handmade, high quality, and fully recyclable without plastic fasteners. See or the comments below for more brands! Click here for sustainable activewear and workout clothes.

Paris to Go