If you’re into NIDRA, chances are you’ve got a keen eye for style ;) so, there’s no denying that fashion plays a very real, very permanent role in your daily life. Unfortunately, most scenarios require us to not be nude, so fashion and clothing are how we express our personality, our moods. It’s how we land jobs, communicate (subtly, or not so subtly) with love interests, and for designers, creative directors, and pattern makers, it’s how they create art and use their innate skills in beautiful and impactful ways.
But, what happens when fashion becomes less of a cerebral thing, and just a money thing? Racks and racks piled in warehouses, online flash sales that never end, and then there are the scary facts. The fashion industry accounts for 5% of greenhouse emissions globally, and packaging, swing tags, and store elements aside - the majority of fashion’s carbon emissions come from raw material production, that being mostly synthetic fabrics. And with more than 60% of the world’s textiles being used for clothing, fast fashion has played a detrimental role in the impact of synthetic fabric on the environment. I said it was scary!
The better news is, that by establishing a circular fashion economy, the industry can help contribute to tackling 45% of these emissions. Woo hoo!
So, what the heck does that mean? Well, creating a circular fashion economy is based on three principles:
- Design without waste and pollution
- Keep products and materials in use
- And regenerate natural systems
And what does that have to do with you? Just that you don’t have to be a big fast-fashion conglomerate to start implementing changes, you can just… be you, your fashion-loving self. Start consciously dressing and buying with the help of these five environmentally-friendly ways and means.
1. Mend and repair what you have
According to Changing Markets, ‘disposability’ is key to the environmental impact, with some clothing brands actually admitting it only takes ten washes before crappy, synthetic items that looked so good that ONE TIME, begins to show signs of wear and tear.
So do it like they used to! Everything old is new again - literally! Make Do and Mend was a pamphlet issued by the British Ministry of Information in the midst of WWII to provide housewives with useful tips on how to be both frugal and stylish in times of harsh rationing. Readers were advised to create pretty ‘decorative patches’ to cover holes in worn garments; unpick old jumpers to re-knit chic alternatives (so in right now), altering, and protect against the ‘moth menace’. Fancy a little harsh rationing?
From patching to sewing, there are plenty of ways you can learn to repair, remove stains and become a broken zip-and-button aficionado. Just 2 minutes could add 2 years (or more) to an item. The fine people at eco-label A.BCH even offer a custom repair kit. Ain’t that useful?
2. Re-dying to meet you
If you’re one of those ‘black is the new black’ kind of fashionistas, re-dying will be right up your alley. The geniuses at Black Fridye claim that through their re-dying processes last year they saved up to 1,850,904 L. That’s compared to virgin production, which is equivalent to 27 backyard swimming pools! They also quantify a 95% average reduction rate in carbon emissions compared to buying new clothes. Pretty cool.
The ability to redye may also encourage you to continue buying natural fabrics. Natural plant-based fibres work best for dying, like cotton, hemp or linen. Cellulosics like bamboo, Tencel or viscose also dye well as will any blend of natural fibres. Synthetics and fabric blends, on the other hand, continue to be your enemy.
3. Recycling (properly)
So, when that bi-annual wardrobe clear-out rolls around, some of us might be guilty of ‘donating’ to Vinnies or the Smith Family, what we think is pure gold… However, when we donate useless or inappropriate items, the charity has to pay the cost of sending it to landfill. Not really productive is it?
When it comes to recycling your clothes properly, think - would I give this to a friend? When in doubt Instead ask the charity beforehand what their donation criteria is. Alternatively, Some of the big retailers have come to the recycling/ upcycling party here in Aus, with H&M and Zara offering recycling services for unwanted clothes, of any brand and in any condition, at all their Australian stores. Sheridan accepts any brand of preloved quilt covers, sheets and towels, and sock retailer Manrags accepts clean unwanted socks (including odd socks) for reuse and recycling. Better yet, the Iconic has teamed up with the Salvos and Australia Post to allow you to donate your clothes.
Need more options? The legends at Frankie Magazine have compiled a list of places you can recycle your clothes in Australia.
4. Thrift shopping & clothes swapping
Not just a song! The Thrift Shop should be renamed ‘vintage wonderland’ for its ability to unearth that one item you’ve been searching a lifetime for. If you’re a Sydney-sider, you can start your search here and here.
Don’t bother going to the Reject Shop for synthetic, itchy, plastic, and down-right strange costumes for your next dress-up party; head to your local thrift store, op shop, or Vinnies for quality clothes (recycled by people like you) for a fraction of anything you’ll pay at a retailer - and a truly quality ‘costume’ you can wear after the party's over.
Speaking of parties… ever had a friend compliment what you’re wearing? She's on the list. Reusing, recycling, and redying can all lead to hosting a clothing swap party with friends. Not only is it a great way to have fun (I’m picturing the Carrie Bradshaw wardrobe scene, you know the one), you and your friends may walk away with an entirely new outfit. And don’t stop at one. Swapping something out with a friend every few months will give your old clothes a sense of novelty, while also supporting your friends to reduce and reuse as well. Win-win!
5. Woke shopping
Sustainable and consciously purchasing fashion items is getting easier and easier to do. Now not just a marketing term, ‘sustainable’ clothes fall under many umbrellas, but the brands with their finger on the pulse will tell you exactly how they are sticking to their values.
It’s truly all about quality over quantity. Gone are the days of the last-minute Supre haul, you’re better than that! Resist the urge to buy an endless amount of clothes and instead build a sustainable wardrobe, including a small number of high-quality, classic pieces that you love the texture, shape and feel of. And it doesn’t mean they have to be all neutral colours in Byron Bay white and beige; sustainable pieces could be gloriously coloured knits, merino activewear, silky slips, and fancy footwear.
Everyone has that one event they want to enter with jaw-to-the-floor kind of reactions. This is exactly why the rental market was invented. Hire glorious clothes on your budget, slow down your environmental impact and stay true to your zesty, sexy self. Glam Corner, Your Closet, All the Dresses and The Volte are all at your service.
Did you know you can compost your clothes too? If they fit the biodegradable bill, check out exactly how you can compost here.