We are becoming increasingly fed up of living in a society which seems hell bent on creating ever greater mountains of unnecessary waste. From plastic bags in their billions to fast food packaging, cheap promotional items that no one wants or needs, and even shrink wrap covering for supermarket cucumbers, we are drowning in the stuff.
Textiles waste is a particular bugbear of ours. Did you know that in the UK alone, we throw out in excess of one million tonnes of textiles every year, most of which ends up in landfill sites?
Far from being harmless holes in the ground where we can conveniently bury anything and everything we no longer want, landfill sites cause significant environmental damage. In the case of landfilled textiles, garment dyes and bleaches can cause toxic chemical seepage into the ground and water courses. As the material decomposes, the build up of methane gas presents further hazards.
Although environnmental issues have been gradually nudging their way up the political agenda, there is no evidence that our throwaway society is ready to take responsibility for its wasteful behaviour. We need a sea change in attitude and, while there is some great work being done to reduce textiles waste through reuse and recycling, the clothing industry remains awash with cheap ‘fast’ fashion which is likely to end up in landfill in a matter of months if not weeks.
So how can we as concerned individuals make a difference yet still stay stylish (and solvent!)? Well, we have put together a list of simple ‘RE’ ACTIONS to the relentless pressures of the fast fashion industry, and we hope the following top ten tips on working towards a greener wardrobe will be useful for waste aware, eco-friendly fashionistas like ourselves.
1. RESIST temptation. Don’t buy it if you don’t need it! Your wardrobe is probably already bulging with impulse buys, many of which you have never worn, so you know it makes sense.
2. REJECT fast fashion outlets and cheap imports which have been transported halfway round the world, may have been produced by an exploited workforce, including child labour, in dangerous conditions, and will probably fall apart after one wash.
3. RETHINK your buying habits. Support ethical, fair trade businesses and ‘home grown’ designers.
4. REUSE clothing and accessories. Buy from vintage, second hand or charity shops, car boot sales and auction websites – or swap clothes with friends
5. REDISCOVER the back of your wardrobe and the darkest corners of your attic which may well harbour some long forgotten outfits that are yearning for a new lease of life.
6. RESTYLE your current wardrobe. Get the sewing box out, refashion a dress into a top and matching bag, add a few embellishments, chop off some sleeves, or just shorten a hemline or two.
7. REFRESH your ‘old’ clothes by adding belts, scarves and complementary accessories for an instant style update.
8. RECYCLE the clothing you no longer need. Drop it off at your local textile recycling bank, freecycle it, or else donate to charity.
9. RESELL your unwanted clothes on one of the internet auction sites or, if you don’t want to do it yourself, through a local or online dress agency.
10. RESEARCH environmentally friendly fashion alternatives which combine style with sustainability. We recommend Kate Fletcher’s Lifetimes project as a great starting point for both information and inspiration.
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