Though the vast majority of the clothes we wear today last an average of three years, less than a century ago, those same garments could last for years. Nowadays, however, it is estimated that more than 29 million tons of clothing are produced globally. By reducing the quality and processing times of every garment, clothes are made more affordable… and easier to dispose of.
Worldwide, the fashion industry is one of the biggest producers of waste. While the industry itself has made efforts to become more sustainable, the fact is that the large amount of chemicals and fibers in textiles makes massive recycling a real headache. The solution to this relies both on the companies themselves and the consumers.
Here are a couple of ideas on how you can start consuming clothes in a more sustainable way.
Transform Your Garments
As time goes by, many of the clothes you buy are no longer of interest to you. Although some of them fade and others stop fitting, many of the clothes we no longer wear are in perfect condition. But how can we reuse them?
One way is upcycling: turn them into something else. For example, a maxi-dress can be transformed into a shorter dress or a skirt. Long pants become shorts and travel bags. Loose clothes can be tightened to better fit the figure. If you are skilled with a pair of scissors and a needle, the possibilities are endless.
If you are one of those people who stops wearing certain items because of their condition, you may consider dyeing your clothes. Another option is to patch or embroider some parts: the more creative the solution, the better for your garment. Even the simplest of adornments can give a new look to an old piece.
Or what about purchasing items made from alternative materials? The girls from Trash Lifestyle produce wallets and handbags from reused plastic bags. Though not exactly upcycling, this is definitely a unique way of reusing materials and transforming them into handcrafted gifts.
Agua Miel Palazzo Pants from Carmenta
Someone Else Can Use It
There are so many possible options for the clothes you have relegated to your closet. First, there is always someone, say - a relative or an acquaintance - that may benefit from your clothes. You can also take those clothes you no longer wear to nursing homes or charities.
There are also barter fairs: events where you can exchange your clothes for others. This is a good way to get new and different clothes without having to spend money or throw away old clothes. Who knows, maybe you'll find the outfit you were looking for for that corporate event or that important dinner.
Do your homework: research
Just because it says “organic” on the label, it doesn’t mean your new pair of pants is better for the environment. Although organic cotton and hemp are more sustainably produced, it is sometimes treated with harmful dyes and chemicals. The solution to this is always look at the label first and check for certifications.
Also, it is always useful to do a little research on which fabrics may produce the most waste. In that way, you may avoid buying certain items or brands that use synthetic materials that may take several centuries to dissolve.
Cuero, Papel, Tijera offers designs that use natural materials such as cabuya.
Buy local design at Online Clothing Stores
By choosing good quality sustainable made clothing that is meant to last, you can prolong the lifespan of clothing. A good option is buying from local designers. Even though many of these garments are more expensive, consumers receive a unique, more durable product that directly benefits the people involved in its creation and production.
Local production can help you minimize your carbon footprint, due to the fact clothes produced by designers in your area spend less in transportation. Also, it is easier to check who makes what you wear and under what conditions. An important part of sustainable fashion implies consuming from ethical sources that respect the rights of their workers. A good example is Carmenta, a brand that only hires women heads of household to sew their pieces.
Consuming more clothing that’s been locally designed and produced is, in almost every way you look, a beneficial situation. First of all, local garments are of better quality. There is an exhaustive process of selection, purchase of materials and clothing that contributes a lot to the final quality of the clothes. They also bring a lot of personality to your wardrobe and help promote the creative work of new talent.