Our friends at Fashion Revolution will be exploring waste in the fashion industry in an upcoming e-zine. They’re calling it “Loved clothes last.” We’re so happy to see them focus on this often overlooked piece of the ethical clothing puzzle.
Waste in apparel production is a huge problem. Mountainous scraps of fabric, excessive chemicals, and an unbelievably huge amount of wasted and polluted water are all side effects of the modern world’s method of putting clothes on our backs.
But it’s too easy to point our fingers at “them” – those in the apparel industry creating this waste. More challenging (but also more rewarding) is changing the way we think about our clothes. We can all take ownership of being part of the solution and a better way forward. Here are four ways.
Pay it Forward. Resale shops by definition create zero waste and the treasure hunt can be pretty fun. If you don’t have the patience for hunting on a regular basis, just pick a few days a year to hit up your local stores and see what you find. (hint – Tuesday or Wednesday morning are the best times to go if you can swing it.) On the flip side, that one top you bought but never really got into still sits in your closet. It’ll be great for someone else. Pay that bad boy forward and feel the peace of mind that comes with lightening your closet load.
Repair. Shoe repair shops are making a comeback, yay! There was a time when taking shoes to a cobbler was what people did when their soles wore out. Next time your favorite pair looks like it’s on its last steps, head to your local cobbler – you might be surprised what he or she can accomplish for a fraction of the price of a new pair.
Make Quality a Habit. Seek out brands that are known for quality in fabrics and garment construction. That $15 organic tee may seem like a great way to support the earth, but at that price, it’s doubtful it’ll last long (or that the worker who made it was paid fairly). Which means you’ll have to buy another one. Which is wasteful. Invest in clothes that last.
Embrace Minimalism. It’s liberating to dis-entangle yourself from the craziness of the Fast Fashion world. Pay less attention to what fashion editors and celebrities are saying you “must have” and simply wear what naturally makes you feel great. A minimalist wardrobe consists of timeless, versatile pieces you feel great in, whatever the season or year. Make your own style. Enjoy until you’re tired of it, regardless of when the magazines tell you it’s out. Your Quality Habit will come in handy here too because you’ll want to wear your favorites for a long time!
Baby steps often seem like a daunting and sometimes even impossible way to make a difference in a world of 7 billion people. But other than food, there is no other product so consumed as clothing. If even a small fraction of us take some baby steps, we can have a huge impact.