Here are some hard facts and impactful solutions for buying, using, and disposing of clothes that will allow you to be a part of the solution 🌊🌍
DID YOU KNOW?
- 80 billion new pieces of clothing are sold in the world every year. This is 400% more than the amount we consumed just two decades ago yet we wear clothes for half as long.
- The fashion industry contributes to around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions due to its long supply chains and energy-intensive production
- The average lifetime for a garment of clothing in the UK is estimated as ~2.2 years.
- 85% of textiles end up in landfills or are incinerated when up to 95% of these materials could be recycled.
- The fashion industry consumes more energy than the aviation and shipping industry combined.
- The fashion industry produces about 20% of global wastewater.
- To make one pair of denim jeans, 10,000 litres of water is required to grow the one kilo of cotton needed for the pair of jeans. In comparison, one person would take 10 years to drink 10,000 litres of water.
- The average UK shopper only wears 70% of what’s in their wardrobe and use clothes on average 7 times before discarding.
- Only 15% of consumer-used clothing is recycled, whereby almost 100% is recyclable
So what can you do to reduce your clothing footprint?
ORGANISE YOUR WARDROBE
An organised wardrobe is not only incredibly satisfying, but it will also give you a good idea of what you have, what you need, and what you DON’T need anymore! We would suggest doing a semi-annual (pre-summer and pre-winter) closet clean where you look at what clothes you use and which you don’t. Set up a rule such as: clothes you haven’t worn once over the last two years you give to your local charity shop.
To be honest, the last generation who were used to sewing and mending clothes was our grandparents, or parents at best. We have taken on this terrible habit of disregarding of clothes as we don’t think they are perfect anymore, but it's so easy to get a small sewing kit that you can use for the easiest of mending and keep clothing a lot longer then you would otherwise. Personally, we find that home-mending-scars on your clothes look awesome!!
End of life tip: When you have some clothes that just cannot be saved, bring out the sewing machine and make a reusable fabric bag out of your old clothes for your grocery shopping. Do double good!
MAKE SECOND HAND YOUR FIRSTHAND CHOICE
With 80 billion pieces of clothing being bought around the world each year, its time to share what we have and the best way to do this is by giving or selling our unwanted clothes and when we need new clothes we go back to find someone else’s unwanted treasures in a second-hand shop. Reusing clothes is the best way to keep them in the loop and reducing waste.
WASH YOUR CLOTHES LESS OFTEN AND WASH WITH CARE
Think about it, how dirty do your clothes actually get after one day of wear? The use of clothes is actually the largest part of its environmental impact due to us washing clothes and the energy used to power the machine and heat the water. Our top tips to wash less and better are.
- If they don’t need a wash, then just hang them to get some air before putting them back in the wardrobe.
- If there are any small stains, wash them off by hand and let airdry.
- If you have been on a garden planting mission, then yes wash your clothes, but do so with the least possible environmental impact by for example washing them cold, using an ECOEGG (remove the need for laundry detergent), and a GUPPYBAG (remove microfibers entering your water mains).
- Always air dry your clothes instead of using the drying machine
Also, there is a saying in Sweden which goes; there is no bad weather just bad clothes. Meaning put the right clothes on for your activity and therefore reducing the likelihood of getting dirty and needing to wash them.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Knowing your stuff will give you the best possible start to become more environmentally conscious when it comes to your clothes. When you buy clothes, you are casting a vote for what material, production process, and brand ethos you support, so make sure that you have done your research to stand behind your decision.
Getting to know the different types of fabrics and learn the pros and cons with them all will help make you decide what aspects are the most important to you, whether it being to reduce plastic, better the livelihood of workers, or reducing the CO2 emissions of clothing production. Your motivation will change your decision making for which fabrics to buy and use. Check out this brilliant fabric guide
It is more important than ever that brands are transparent with their production processes and that we can understand what resources and human efforts that have gone into getting the clothing (and all other items for that matter) to us. Get to know the process and impact of a brand's clothing and determine if it is contributing to something you can stand behind.
Get to know the brand
Hopefully, if the brand uses eco-conscious fabrics and has an eco-driven production process, they will have a good sustainable ethos. However, it is always great to read about the brand and understanding what they stand for as a business and if their efforts are genuine down to the core of what they do.
ALSO, if you have questions that you don’t find the answers to, ask the brand directly.
BUY ONLY WHAT YOU NEED
We are all guilty of buying things we don’t need just because we happen to see something nice. It would be awesome if we could turn our shopping switch off, we can’t, but there are some great conditions we put in place to reduce our impulse and unnecessary buying.
- Don’t go into clothing stores or online stores unless you know exactly what you are looking for
- Have a rule that you give one - buy one; so that the only way you can buy something new is by giving/selling one existing thing
- Ask yourself the question, do I really need it?
BUY QUALITY OVER QUANTITY & THINK LONGEVITY
It may sound like an obvious thing that we should choose quality over quantity, so if you can buy clothes based on this philosophy, you should! But the downside is often that it is a lot more expensive to choose quality and that majority of people cannot afford it. It is however possible to think about the longevity of the clothes you buy, meaning that you should buy things that you can see yourself wearing often and for a long time and that you can easily look after to lengthen the time of use. We can all do our part!
REFUSE FAST FASHION
Fast fashion is designed to drive consumption up, hence several seasonal styles are released annually, and most brands do not take sustainable production into account. It’s time to refuse unsustainable fast fashion and instead choose those brands which are showing their commitment by releasing fewer collections, using more sustainable materials, and those that take produce small test collections (or even-pre orders) before releasing it on a wider scale.
So there are many things that we can do to reduce our footprint when it comes to our clothes and its not about adapting our lifestyle to all of these changes at once, but taking a couple of these changes on will go a long way to reach a more sustainable wardrobe.
Written by the Nature Unite team