As September draws to a close and Autumn is well and truly upon us, it’s a good time to discuss why staying ethical when picking this season’s wardrobe is more important than ever. This short guide will run through some of the biggest dos and don’ts when it comes to sustainable clothes shopping.
You’ve probably heard the term before. The impact of our capitalist society’s need for new and cheap clothing has not gone unreported. In fact, many documentaries have tackled the issue, highlighting the use of cheap labor overseas and poor working conditions.
This production flow from catwalk to retail also contributes a massive amount of waste, since the philosophy behind fast fashion is to capture a particular trend while it's hot. This often results in wasted materials in the form of unsold goods or clothes that were simply bad purchases and never worn. Repair.
Fashion companies would like you to think that once your clothes have got a tear or lost a button, it’s time to throw it away. But this is wrong.
Excess waste is one of the biggest problems when it comes to modern fashion, and our current way of seeing clothes as totally expendable is completely unsustainable. Rather than throw something out, try your best at repairing it. Most problems can be fixed with a sewing kit and some basic skills.
Alternatively, if you don’t trust yourself with your favorite garments, use the services of a local tailor or seamstress to do the job for you.
Second Hand is The New Cool
While vintage clothes have been cool since forever, luxury second hand clothing, charity and thrift store clothes have usually got a bad rap. But no more! Some of the most unique, stylish and inspiring items of clothing are second hand. And to make things better, it’s also one of the best ways to shop sustainably. By not contributing to the production of new clothes, you avoid funding excess use of water, poor working conditions and carbon emissions put out by the clothing industry.
In fact, many boutiques now specialise in pre-loved clothes, and have a constant selection of rotating pieces, meaning you’ll have a completely different experience every time you shop (and it avoids any awkward encounters when you realise you’re wearing the same shirt as your co-worker).
Rethink, Re-wear, Repurpose
The three Rs have been taught in schools for decades now, but it's time that we all started really thinking about what they mean. While recycling is good, it is oftentimes used as a band aid for much bigger problems, and the vast majority of recycled clothes usually end up in landfill.
First: Rethink. - Try to reimagine your shopping habits. This could be anything from the amount of shopping sprees you do in a year to the amount of clothes you actually buy. Perhaps it means switching from a cheaper store to an independent store that pays its workers more fairly.
Rewear. - This one is pretty self-explanatory. Don’t throw out clothes! Sometimes it's OK to put a shirt away and to come back to it later. Similarly, try to think of different ways to wear your current clothes. Combine different pieces you’ve never tried before, you might just surprise yourself!
Repurpose. - While the third R is usually ‘recycle’, for this write-up we’ve opted for repurpose. This is because one of the best things you can do with unwanted clothes is repurpose them. Use them as materials in projects or cut them into spare cleaning rags. Better yet, donate your clothes to those who need them the most!