What can we, as consumers, do to help?
In Fast-Fashion, Part 1, I explained the damaging environmental impact of Fast-Fashion.
As a consumer you have the power to vote with your pound, your demand is what drives production. Here are some ways you can reduce demand for garments, and so your impact on the planet while keeping stylish!
There is already enough clothing in the world for everyone to wear what they want without more being produced every day. You can find some great items in charity/vintage/second-hand/thrift shops if you take the time to look for them. A great perk of shopping this way is often it works out cheaper and you have a guarantee that the item is good quality because it has already. stood the test of time long enough to be in a second- hand store. If you’re worried about the losing the convenience of fast fashion shopping, some great online second-hand stores include https://www.bluerinsevintage.co.uk/cart ; https://reignvintage.com or https://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop
If you can’t find anything you like from what’s already out there, and you want something new, consider buying from companies that only use sustainably sourced materials or recycled fibres. Some stores only use fibres that have been produced from recycled waste such as washed up fishing nets or plastic bottles which is a great way to join the world’s war on waste while shopping!
Still not found anything to your liking? Try supporting smaller, independent stores where the clothing is not mass produced. Part of the issue with fast fashion is simply the scale at which the items are produced, where whole areas of land are being taken up for cotton farms for one factory, where-as smaller local stores are likely to have lower scale production processes, using less energy and water.
If you must buy new, try to buy one-off pieces that are higher quality. Carefully consider, to ensure you will get a lot of use out if it. This could go some way to justify all the resources that have gone into its production. Also, if you purchase items that are higher quality they will last longer – so you will not need to dispose of them and buy replacements. They might last beyond your need for them – then you can pass them on to others to be reused again and again. Higher quality items might be more expensive, but they are always worth the investment when you can get loads of wear from them.
Before buying new clothes, look at what you already have – you may have items that you have forgotten about that you could bring to the front of your wardrobe again. Maybe you have clothes that you think you will never wear again. If so, could alter them to make them more wearable? Can you crop that top you never wear? How about dyeing or adding embroidery to an old denim jacket to add a splash of colour to your collection? Could you learn to sew and repair a tear or replace a missing button?
When you’re bored of your clothes there are lots of ways you can pass them on to extend their life, before they go to landfill. You can pass them to a charity shop; sell them; give them to friends or family. There is always someone in need of what you no longer want – donate your clothes to charity shops or shelters. Just because those jeans are out of fashion doesn’t mean they won’t keep someone else warm this winter!
With a bit of imagination, you can find other uses for old clothes: old t-shirts can become cleaning cloths, old shirts can become produce bags.
In those cases where there really is no other option but to dispose of your clothes, then consider the best way to do this. Natural fibres can be composted and other fibres can be recycled at your local tip. This is always a better option than sending things to landfill.
At Make it Wild you can see that we use pre-loved and upcycled fabric for all of our ‘sewn’ products. Click here for our cotton produce bags and here for our reusable cleansing wipes. We do not wish to unnecessarily contribute to the demand for new textiles. Note that new fabric is used in our bees wax food wraps, as we feel this is important for food safety. You can view them here. Remember that our bees wax wraps are designed to replace something far worse … cling film. When our wraps eventually come to the end of their useful lives, they can be composted.
Cecilia Neave, Environment and Business Undergraduate, University of Leeds