My Sustainable Wardrobe
The last few weeks have been a catalyst of change. COVID has forced many of us to rethink our own consumption patterns and realise that we can’t keep taking from nature more than we can give back. Sustainability is relevant, now, more than ever. Data indicates that the current consumption pattern uses natural resources at a pace that is 1.6 times faster than the pace at which Earth can regenerate its resources.
But the topic of sustainability can be daunting to many. That’s because people often don’t know where to begin; others have notions that it’s expensive to be sustainable, or when it comes to sustainable fashion, not stylish enough.
Today, we are trying to make it simpler for you to look at your own personal dressing from a different angle. By sharing a few tips, we hope to help you curate your wardrobe, sustainably.
It’s hard to be 100% sustainable.
The only way to do that is to stop all consumption. And we are not suggesting you do that. What we are saying is that you can consume less, be more conscious and intentional about your purchases and make sure it’s quality. In the recent days, many of us were clearing out our wardrobes. During this exercise, did you notice that your impulse purchases were the first to go?
Give old garments a new home.
Swap, buy vintage, rent a garment. These are some sustainable alternatives to buying new clothes. We know it’s difficult in these times, but if you swap clothes safely with a family member then do it. Every new item has a carbon footprint and by using one that is already made, you don’t consume new energy.
Care for your items like the best friends they are.
When you discover a hole in your favourite dress, try to fix it instead of throwing it away or getting a replacement. We sometimes lose our favourite garments to poor care. You can also repurpose a pair of jeans and turn it into shorts for summer, or sew on a patch to your t-shirt and upcycle it for another season (or two). By reading the care labels on your items, you can ensure that you wash it and store it in a way that extends its lifecycle so that it stays around longer in your wardrobe. We have heard of disasters that happen in the washing machine, with some favourite items that are destroyed forever because of incorrect washing methods.
Read the label.
If you can right now, turn to the inside of your garment and read the label. Among other things, it will tell you the material composition of what you’re wearing.
A sustainable option would be to choose natural fibers over synthetic fibers. Look for natural materials like cotton, hemp, wool and silk. Polyester, nylon and acrylic are the more popular sythnetic fibres created from processes that involve a lot of hazardous chemicals.
We can be as conscious about what we put on ourselves as what we put inside ourselves. There is a strong argument that non-organic natural fibres also have a significant environmental impact and we will not disagree. For example, it takes 2700 litres of water to produce 1 cotton t-shirt. You have to choose what works best for you.
Is certification necessary?
Many people associate Fair Trade certifications with sustainability. Here’s what you should know. Not all sustainable brands can afford certifications and while they produce keeping fair trade principles in mind, they may not have an actual certificate. Read up on the production partners of a brand you like. See if they disclose information about how and where their produce. There are often social costs associated with traditional production such as child labour, health and safety of employees and poor working conditions. So make sure you check on those before you choose to purchase from a brand.
Your local brands are usually the ones that produce in smaller quantities avoiding overproduction, which ensures that there is less wastage. They also are more likely to produce in their own ateliers and have a shorter supply chain, which means a reduced carbon footprint. And you might find that they are more transparent about where they produce and how they make their products. This is a great example of being sustainable – you don’t always have to look for international brands but you can start with lesser known labels within your own cities.
The 30 wear rule.
Started by Livia Firth, the founder of EcoAge, the 30 Wear Rule is a guideline to how many times you should wear an item of clothing. Some of you might think, ‘what only 30 wears?!’ but the reality is that some items get worn a lot less. To put it into perspective, a party top is worn 1.7 times before it’s discarded. So the 30 wear test is a good way to ask yourself if you are really going to use it. An added plus if the item is versatile and trans-seasonal.