A-Z of Eco: C is for Clothing

Welcome to The A to Z of going eco-friendly! I’ve set myself the challenge of coming up with a list of sustainability-related words that might help those of us getting started on the journey. C is for Clothing.

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So we’re back to the A to Z of Eco and C is for Clothing. I’m sure you’ve heard of fast fashion – the mass production of cheap clothing, often made using unethical methods. In a bid to make clothing affordable, manufacturers have created a market that is producing 1 million garments a day & is responsible for 10% of the worlds carbon footprint (expected to increase to 25% by 2030).

Textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined. — House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee, 2019

If that wasn’t enough, 85% of the microplastics found in the oceans are from synthetic clothing, likely shedding during the washing process & flushed into our waterways. We as consumers are partially responsible for this too. We all wear clothes & we all make choices that effect the market whether we like it or not.

C is for Clothing
So how do we quit, or at least cut down on, fast fashion?!

Simply assessing where you are and what you need can help. Remember the Buyerarchy of Needs? You can apply that to clothing too. So, before you pop out for your fashion fix, think about if you can:

  • Use what you have – Do you need to get new clothes at all? Can you re-wear last years wardrobe? Is there anything you haven’t worn yet that could do with another look?
  • Borrow – Can you borrow from a friend? Are you after a one-off piece for an event that you can hire or rent?
  • Swap – “Swishing” is the thing! Get together with your friends and have a clothes swap party.
  • Thrift – Check out your favourite charity shop/vintage fair/emporium/etc for new (to you) threads.
  • Make – A bit out there for some but completely doable if you have the means to. You can also think about mending or upcycling something you already own.
  • Buy – If you really have to buy new, try to make it an investment if you can. Shop for quality over quantity.

Preworn is a great online resource for clothes.

The true cost of making clothing is not always reflected in the price of fast fashion. It’s only when we look at well-made, ethically sourced items that we realise the price difference and I understand the draw towards clothing that costs far less. This isn’t about making people buy things they can’t afford but, simply, buying less.

One of my goals for next year is to start building a capsule wardrobe. Essentially this is a pared-down, minimalist wardrobe of clothing that you can create multiple outfits from. It doesn’t require a lot of pieces, just a few well-chosen items that you re-wear multiple times.

More tips

  • Wash your clothes less often and at lower temperatures. Not all clothes need to be washed after a single wear. Washing less often actually makes clothes last longer too & limits the amount of plastics you are flushing away.
  • For clothes you no longer want, consider swapping them, donating or recycling if there are facilities near you. Don’t chuck them in the bin.
  • Don’t forget shoes too!
  • Try setting yourself a challenge. Maybe you try to not buy new clothing for 3 months (one season) or try your hand at making something new instead.

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