Stopping the environmental cost of fast fashion

Posted on: 23 April 2019 by Helen Venables

Helen Venables warns we need to make our wardrobes sustainable and eco-friendly. Even making small changes could make a difference. Here are some of the best ways of how to do just that.

Environmental cost of fast fashion

The fashion industry is the second largest contributor to global landfill, largely due to the amount of clothes we throw out. Do you bear in mind the processes that are needed to make our clothes including the environmental impact of them being picked or produced, washed, spun, knitted, woven, finished, sewn and transported when you go shopping? We need to make our wardrobes sustainable and ecofriendly. Even making small changes could make a difference. Here are some of the best ways of how to do just that.

  1. People are buying more clothes and wearing them less.  See the contents of your wardrobe as an investment with longevity in mind. Knowing what truly suits you and seeing past fad trends is an important step. Aim for timelessness. 
  1. Buy less but concentrate on cost per wear ie actual cost is not the purchase price, but the price divided by how many times you are going to wear it.  Choose better quality clothes to get great cost per wear.  Avoid cheap tat.
  1. Look out for products that are made from recycled fibres, organic cottons and quality materials. Use locally sourced renewable materials when you can.  Avoid polyester or nylon because they’re non-biodegradable. Synthetic fabrics are fashion's equivalent to single-use plastic.
  1. Typically (but not always) middle and higher end retailers tend to have better supply chain ethics than their fast fashion retail compatriots.  Buy cheap and someone else pays. The likelihood is if your ‘perfect’ dress was only £20, then it was probably made in factories practicing cheap labour and poor conditions. Buy from brands who are actively working to improve the environment and put pressure on fashion firms to eco-fy their labels, by choosing companies committed to eco fashion practises.
  1. Having a disposable mindset is not good for the planet’s health. Be choosey and ask yourself do you REALLY love the garment you are about to buy. Don’t buy something on the sale which you wouldn’t have bought otherwise. Consider where you are making purchases – look out for vintage and pre-loved items (including charity shops).  It goes without saying - never ask for a plastic shopping bag.
  1. If an existing garment doesn’t feel quite right for you, ask a friend who is nifty with a sewing machine to alter it or take it to the tailors. Changing the neckline, leg length or hem length is a classic way to make an item that has always felt slightly wrong, feel really right.
  1. Create a virtual filter on your wardrobe. Always offer hand me downs and see if any of your friends are interested in a few wardrobe swaps. Re-gift unwanted presents, take unwanted clothes to the charity shops and sell through dress agencies or online such as eBay.
  1. Water wastage is very environmentally unfriendly so cutting down on your laundry or always doing a full wash will help.
  1. Create a capsule wardrobe that makes you look and feel amazing. A capsule wardrobe is the minimum number of items to create the maximum number of outfits. Don’t repeatedly buy items you already have - how many coats, neutral tees and pairs of trousers do we actually need?  Don’t double up. The strongest basis for a capsule wardrobe is using your colour palette and understanding your style profile because you should be able to wear any of the clothes in your wardrobe with one another.
  1. Educate yourself about landfill. The North Face and Marks & Spencers allows consumers to drop off unwanted items in their stores, regardless of condition or brand and they are then repurposed for another use. High-street names such as H&M, Levi’s and MAC reward you for recycling your unwanted goods.  Being wasteful is far from cool.

www.houseofcolour.co.uk

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