If ever there was a right time to create a sustainable wardrobe, that time is now!
I wonder how many of us look into our wardrobes and say that we have nothing to wear? The fact is we have plenty to wear.
More to follow soon....
There are all sorts of strategies we can implement in creating a sustainable wardrobe. It may need a little time-investment but the benefits are well worth the effort. We can embrace and adopt a more environmentally friendly way of choosing and using our clothes a number of ways.
My journey into sustainability began at home – growing up with a Mother and two Grandmothers’ who had experienced life through the War years during a time where resources were scarce and clothes had to last. I was taught how to choose and buy clothes well so the garment lasted longer and I also recall wearing clothes that Mum had made.
This was my first taste of sustainable fashion so it’s easy to see how those earlier experiences have shaped how I choose and treat my clothes now.
According to The Waste Resources and Action Programme (WRAP) – the average lifespan of a garment is only a shocking 2.2 Years and an estimated £140m worth of clothing ends up in landfill.
By choosing well in the first place we are doing our bit to protect the World’s resources. This reduces clothing going to landfill and also reducing human exploitation in this industry.
I do believe that we all share a responsibility to slow fashion right down! There is also a feel-good element at play here – a feeling that you are doing good for those around us and for our environment.
So what can we do.....
Here are my 5 Top Tips on creating a sustainable wardrobe:
I would hazard a guess that most of us have items lurking at the back of our wardrobes waiting to be re-worn and re-loved. Create some time to go through your wardrobe and get creative with those items you have. We can re-use and re-purpose wherever possible – pair your clothes differently to maximise their wear. Is there anything here you can try? The same blouse but with different trousers, a different skirt or as a layering piece perhaps?
If there are items that you will definitely no longer wear, gift them to a friend, fill a charity bag or donate to a fabric bank for someone else to benefit.
If we buy better quality clothes it is more likely they will last longer and we are more likely to care for them. Hanging clothes after each wearing and storing them well will elongate their life. Be mindful of over washing (particularly those synthetic clothes, which release plastic particles which may find their way into the sea) and also consider your choice of detergent and washing temperatures – cooler water can be kinder.
A good tailor or seamstress is worth their weight in gold. They have the knack of breathing new life into a garment meaning you are able to enjoy the garment for longer and perhaps in a totally new guise. If like me, the sewing gene passed you by, at least consider changing up buttons yourself to create a whole new look on a blouse, a jumper sleeve or jacket. If you are local to York try Sew Versatile who will do an excellent job for you.
This may take some time but researching some new brands that operate with green credentials - look out for organic or Eco-friendly certifications. We can also choose fabrics that are natural or organic such as linens, silks, wool or synthetically derived fabrics from plant materials such as Viscose, Lyocell, Tencel or Rayon. All of which will biodegrade. You will be more informed to make better future choices.
I have often spoken of the effect of fast fashion production upon our environment. I do believe that we CAN all play a part in reducing the environmental impact by shopping smarter.
We can help to change the culture of consumerism by choosing more sensibly and buying less. Buy only what we need to replace and try pre-loved clothing. There are some great vintage shops offering some quality treasures that have all been saved from landfill. That has to be worth learning more about.
There is a feel-good factor to behaving in a sustainable way whatever the element...be it using natural products above harsh chemicals, buying from companies with ethical credentials or re-purposing garments.
Tell me, what elements do you already embrace?
If you would like to work with me and learn more about creating a sustainable wardrobe, you may contact me here.
I look forward to hearing from you.
How often do you ask yourself where has my garment come from or who made my clothes? Or did you consider if the employees were treated well?
It makes you think doesn’t it? The clothing choices we make have a significant impact on both planet and people employed in the fashion industry.
Do you remember in April 2013, the devastating collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh (Rana Plaza)? This disaster, killing 1,134 garment workers certainly shone a light upon the shocking conditions of those working in the garment industry. This is justifiably forcing some significant changes to the practices employed in clothing production.
Rather than the historical four seasonal collections, we have seen the arrival of more regular micro-seasons at almost one per week! For many years Fast Fashion has delivered us Catwalk trends in a mass-produced way at an affordable price tag. The resulting consequences of this fast-paced production has been a major contributor to the depletion of the World’s natural resources . Also to a decline in working conditions for those employed in the fashion industry.
It was Andrew Morgan's Netflix documentary 'The True Cost' that then highlighted the detrimental practices that exist within this industry. It’s a sobering watch if ever you needed convincing.
Wind on to 2020 which I sincerely hope has engendered a deeper connection for our environment and the people in it. There is no better time for us all be more mindful when it comes to choosing a more ethical approach to the clothes we choose to wear.
The leaps that have been made globally in fashion production benefit both the planet and its people and the improvements are ongoing. Firstly let’s take a quick overview of the principles of Sustainable Fashion.
Sustainable Fashion Focusses on overall transparency of processes from choice of materials, garment design, manufacture, packaging and distribution. It is allowing fashion to be produced again and again but in such a way that has minimal impact upon the environment.
Ethical fashion Concentrates on those enterprises that support people working in the supply chain from the farmer to the person assembling the garments. They are committed to paying a living wage, treating their workforce with dignity and offering safe and comfortable working conditions. Increasingly with additional benefits such as childcare and medical care.
Naturally these considerations will be reflected in the price we pay as consumers but as a long-term strategy, buying less often but buying well from an ethically transparent business is where our money is more wisely spent. There are of course ways to make ethical shopping a more affordable experience by buying vintage or pre-loved garments.
At the prospect of wearing an item of clothing made by someone without access to fair pay or safe working conditions, let's chose to do without and create our own sustainable wardrobe.
Our own Values
Choosing where to begin making our own smarter clothing choices essentially comes down to our own values. These will differ for each of us and we can choose which element is more important to us. As I see it, there are three categories that fall under the overall banner of sustainability:
Our Own Research
It is worth noting that responsible clothing manufacturers will ALWAYS work hard to show their ethical credentials. It is up to us as consumers, to research new brands and if information is not clearly visible, we need to ask. Any ethical business will be only too happy to oblige.
The British brands Baukjen and Boden are absolute champions of this and I urge you take a look at their commitment to Ethical and Sustainable Practices. There are also smaller individual brands that take the same care such as Live Lagom who offer small ranges from ethical producers.
Needless to say, we all share a collective responsibility to make some changes that are less damaging to our environment and kinder to our people. Don't be afraid to ask, who made my clothes?
If you would like some help to develop your own Ethical or Sustainable wardrobe I'd love to guide you. I’d also be interested in hearing your views, do please feel free to leave a comment.
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