Here’s an unpopular opinion: Fast Fashion Sucks.
It really does.
Not just because its hard to keep up with ever changing trends or because the cost of replacing perfectly good clothes on a regular basis is so high, but also because of the massive price paid by the environment.
Consider this: growing cotton takes a lot of land and water. In fact, some estimate it takes 2,700 liters of water to make just one pair of jeans or one t-shirt.
That’s a lot of resources for a fairly cheap piece of clothing.
Moving away from natural fabrics for a moment, did you know that almost all other types of fabric (polyester, nylon, acrylic, etc) contain plastic fibers in some form or another.
This means every time you wash your clothes, tiny plastic particles are shed and rinsed down the drain, only to end up back in our water system.
Now I’m not saying we should stop wearing or washing clothes, but there are a few things you and I can do to reduce the impact living a normal life has on nature.
I’m almost to scared to talk about this, because I know your mind has already gone “oh boy.”
Yes, hemp gets a bad wrap and has a negative association, but let me just say this:
To make that same t-shirt I talked about before, would take 50% less water and 1/3 of the land surface if it’s made from hemp.
Besides the water and land area needed to produce natural fabrics, almost all clothing, regardless of what it’s made from, are imported from other countries.
Shipping in every form uses fuel and the process of extracting oil from the ground is the most destructive and polluting in the world.
What I’m saying is you might be paying a higher price for cheap fashion than you realize.
Buying local means you considerably reduce you carbon footprint and in the process you are supporting and promoting local businesses.
I know locally made is often expensive, but consider where the imported clothing actually comes from.
Chances are, that cute shirt you just bought was made by a 13 year old girl working 20 hour shifts, 7 days a week and getting paid next-to-nothing for it.
The retail store selling the clothes, on the other hand, will have profit margins upwards of 50%.
Buying local means the person putting in the hard work actually gets paid for their efforts and long hours.
I used to be that person who buys pretty clothes because, you know, retail therapy.
But after many seasons of gathering dust in my closet and the occasional look over with a “maybe next time” promise, I’d eventually throw those pretty clothes out.
At the time I didn’t realize I was contributing to a global consumerism problem.
Fact is, the fashion industry is the 2nd biggest polluter in the world, and the habit of buying what you don’t need and discarding, adds to the problem.
Luckily, there are some solutions.
I have found numerous small local businesses selling anything from casual secondhand items right from someone’s closet to vintage stores selling high quality designer finds.
Clothing swaps between groups of friends are also growing in popularity nowadays, and I for one think it’s fantastic.
Now that we’ve covered buying new, I want to talk about discarding old clothing.
On average, we throw out around 30 kilograms of fabric per person per year.
That doesn’t seem to bad, but if we multiply that by 7.5 billion people… not so good. Luckily, there are a few ways of reducing this.
Sometimes all that’s needed is a patch here or button there to breathe new life into and old piece of clothing.
If you’re not really into sewing, search for clothing repair shops in your area to help with minor alterations like fixing seams or adding buttons.
It can save the life of a doomed piece of clothing.
Rather than throwing out, donate unused clothing.
Keep in mind the 3 C’s: Children’s homes, Churches and Charities.
There is always someone who needs something more than you do.
Old clothing can be repurposed in so many ways. Just look around on Pinterest for inspiration.
If an item is way past saving in any way, cut it up and use as a cleaning rag.
Remember the point is to keep as much as possible out of the landfill.
The Greenish Way
After incorporating the above changes into my lifestyle, I am now the proud owner of a couple of unique secondhand finds.
Not only can I still indulge in retail therapy every now and then, but I am reducing my water and carbon footprint while doing so.
Some of the clothing I didn’t want anymore found new homes, and others found new purpose as part of doggy blankets and cushion covers.
By making small changes, you can also make a difference.
If you have some tips or advice, I’d love to hear about it in the comment section.
Until next time…happy Greenish living.