We should care about where our clothes have come from. So many of my clothes are made out of polyester that is derived from petroleum. Ekk, sounds gross! I prefer to buy cotton but it can take over 2500L to produce enough cotton for just one t-shirt. (Should we just go naked?)
We should care about where our clothes go once we get rid of them. The average Australian throws out 30kg of clothing and textiles each year. Only 10% of the clothes charities are given gets resold.
My partner bought two new pairs of jeans the other month. When he brought them home I looked up the brand on my ethical app (because I am annoying like that).
“This brand gets an F! Why didn’t you go to the shop you normally get them from? They get a C!” I said to him. If only I could control EVERYTHING. (Also this brand is on Oxfams Naughty List, at the time I did not know that).
Two weeks later one pair of his new jeans ripped. The fact they ripped was not a problem. He wears jeans everyday, they all eventually rip. I was angry because they ripped so freaking quickly. The receipt conveniently went missing so there was no returning them.
I refuse to throw out something that can be easily mended. 5% of household waste is clothes – I read that on the internet somewhere so it must be true. I did what I always do now when jeans rip. I got out the sewing machine and did a dodgy patch up job on them. No one sees the part where it rips anyway.
I mend clothes for three reasons. First it saves money. You can get a lot more wear out of a piece of clothing and you don’t have to go out and replace it…. yet. Second, it is the only time I ever use my sewing machine. If I didn’t mend clothes that baby would just sit and collect dust. It needs to feel loved every now and then. Third and most importantly, throwing out clothes is so wasteful. If something needs mending you can’t exactly donate it. The clothes have to end up somewhere, most likely in the bin. I’ve thrown clothes in the bin before. I won’t do it again though.
You could reuse clothes and turn them into rags, which would be ideal, but I already have lots of rags. Now you can also recycle clothes easily. H&M and Uniqlo stores have recycling bins in their stores. Hurrah for multinational fast fashion companies, aren’t they the best? (They are not by the way, in case my sarcasm did not come across in text. The fashion industry is the second worst industry in terms of environmental damage. Oil is the number one bad guy.)
What matters more than reusing and recycling clothes is my other favourite R word. Reduce. Apparently, people wear 20% of their clothes 80% of the time. We don’t need the latest fashion trends. We don’t need to add to our wardrobes each season.
I stopped buying so many clothes for selfish reasons – so I could save some money! More importantly I stopped buying so many clothes because fast fashion is an evil turd from more than one viewpoint – workers rights, animal rights and the environment.
It is almost the end of the year and that means resolutions for the following year, you know, the ones you never keep (I AM going to lose 20kg!).
My New Year resolution for 2017 is to do no fast fashion shopping. (Fast fashion pretty much refers to any chain clothing stores etc). I can buy second-hand clothes and my baby can have gorgeous hand me downs from her cousin. I am also allowing myself to buy new clothes from ethical companies.
This post is just the tip of the iceberg about clothing waste and ethical clothing. If you would like more information I have included some links.
If you love Netflix then watch The True Cost Docu-movie. If you love TED talks then watch How To Engage With Ethical Fashion. If you love podcasts then listen to Ethical Fashion with Mel Tually. If you love reading check out I Haven’t a Thing to Wear and finally if you are a website junky then visit Fashion Revolution.
Thanks for reading!