The path to zero carbon is long and challenging, but for the planet’s sake, we all need to get on it. While better habits in our choice of transport, energy, packaging and recycled goods are emerging, knowing where to start with fashion is tough.
The majority of our clothes have a short life span, and they mostly end up in a landfill. It’s the nature of fashion that trends and new-season looks come and go.
But, if we apply the simple goal of minimising waste, and making the most of resources, to our clothing choices, too, then we can actually make a difference and move towards a more sustainable future.
It’s not about abandoning our love of fashion, just approaching it differently. Like most things in life, though, you get what you pay for, and someone always pays the cost somewhere along the line. Fashion designer and e-tailer, Gayle Poppers of The Sustainable Studio, has plenty of advice.
1 – If you don’t think you have the time or the money to make sustainable clothing choices, here are a few tips to think about that mean not only greener style credentials but also a healthier bank balance, a more manageable wardrobe, and a real sense of satisfaction. Try to avoid buying a statement piece that you know you will only wear for one occasion, and instead invest in something with longevity that you can wear again and again.
2 – Opt for vintage pieces, or rent out something special, for big occasions. Choose to buy quality over quantity; invest in classic wardrobe staples that will last.
The benchmark for buying new design as an investment piece used to be that it would get a minimum of 30 wears.
3 – Get to know your own style! This is important, especially when choosing to buy quality over quantity. A stylist or a good friend can help. Fast fashion pushes trends. But, knowing what suits you, means you buy better and avoid potential waste in unworn clothes.
4 – Pick versatile pieces that can be styled in different ways, rather than an item you know is going to fall out of fashion in no time. Do a wardrobe edit to see what you actually like, fit into, and will wear. It may be a lovely item, or have cost a lot, but if it really doesn’t suit you, and hasn’t been worn in over a year, do a ‘frozen’ and ‘let it go’!
5 – Donate what you don’t like anymore to friends or family, or at charity shops or recycling bins. Sell good quality high-end labels which still hold value; try local resale apps and e-tailers like The Sustainable Store where you make some money and avoid needless waste.
6 – Make a decision to buy only preloved clothing for a couple of months, and household items too, if you like, and see the potential!
7 – Read up on sustainability, the (fast) fashion industry and its environmental impact. The common sense of extending the life of our fashion choices soon becomes clearer.
8 – Repurpose old items – get them fixed, altered, or changed into something new. A seamstress or designer will help, or invest in a sewing machine and have a go.
9 – Know how to treat and wash your clothes correctly. Beware of bleaches and harsh detergents or spot-cleaners. Washing clothes correctly, on lower temperatures, by hand with gentle shampoo, or dry-cleaning, means they last much longer and look good as new.
10 – Buy clothes from small, local brands and designers, for both the economy and environment. Recycled or organic cotton or linen are better choices, as is recycled wool or leather, and new synthetics like Tencel, Piñatex, Econyl and Qmonos are tipped to become more widespread on account of their eco-credentials.
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