What can we do?
Recycling garments is an option; however, synthetics and blends can make this difficult. Donating clothing is also better than throwing it away – but since many charities receive too much clothing, a lot of what they receive is also sent to landfills or exported abroad. Some solutions include buying better, buying less, caring for your clothes, and participating in the sharing economy.
- Buy better: You can help the environment by buying higher quality clothing that will last several seasons. Choose garments made from fibers such as organic cotton and wool, and try to buy from sustainable brands that can trace their supply chains and guarantee their workers are paid a living wage. Look for brands that offer year-round collections, which are usually comprised of wardrobe basics designed to last.
- Buy less: Go through your closet, get a clear picture of what you have and work to improve the utilization of your clothing – most people wear just 20% of their closets, 80% of the time. You probably have some hidden treasures in there that you totally forgot about! Avoid buying items just because they are on sale; instead, try keeping a list of items you would like to buy to stay focused on what you really need.
- Care for your clothes: Take care of your clothes and find ways to reuse and repurpose them when the time comes. Wash clothes carefully and air dry whenever possible. If an item is damaged, can you sew a torn shirt or patch old jeans? Even many fast fashion items can last for years if we refuse to see them as disposable and care for them properly.
- Join the sharing economy: Maybe you have some friends that would be up for a clothing swap. You’ll not only save money, but you can also find some cool and unique items. There are also numerous clothing rental services available, where you can try out new items or rent clothing for different occasions instead of buying new.
We have a long way to go, but once we stop seeing clothing as something to be thrown away, we are taking a step in the right direction. By looking for conscious clothing, caring for our clothes and keeping them longer, our individual actions can make a big difference for our planet.