Buy less but better
In North America alone, we throw away 10.5 million tons of clothing each year that ends up in landfills — the equivalent of 30 times the weight of the Empire State building! If you find that a chilling fact, before paying for that top, ask yourself: “Do I have at least three pieces to combine it with? Is it easy to wash and maintain?” If you think you’re not going to put it on at least 20 times in your life, it’s not worth it.
Open your eyes
“There is a joke in China that says you can predict what the color of the season will be just by looking at the color of the river,” says Orsola de Castro in the first scene of the documentary River Blue, which delves into the pollution of waterways caused by the fashion industry.
If you are worried about where your clothes come from and under what conditions they have been made, check out True Cost, another documentary that explores fast fashion problems, from working conditions to resource contamination.
Once you throw them away, nylon leggings take about 30 to 40 years to decompose. Don’t know where to get rid of the clothes that you no longer use and you want to recycle them? Brands such as H&M and Levi’s have installed containers in all their stores where you can deposit your old clothes. They take care of recycling it —and they give you discounts in exchange!
Who makes our clothes? Fashion Revolution, the international campaign that leads the movement for a more sustainable approach to dressing, encourages you to lob this question at brands by putting the hashtag #whomademyclothes on your social networks.
Support fashion that cares
Look for firms such as Agua Bendita, whose bathing suits in Colombia are mostly made by single mothers, or Everlane, whose jeans are made in some of the greenest factories in the world (e.g., up to 98 percent of the water used is recycled).
Not only can you sell or donate the clothes that you no longer use in stores like Buffalo Exchange and Beacon’s Closet, you will also find unique pieces that no one else in your office are wearing. Besides, supporting the small businesses above is ecological!
Do you remember the time when the zipper of your trousers was broken and it was not thrown out. And we knew how to sew a button? It is time to recover the skills of your grandmother and get down to work.
Respect your clothes
Follow the care instructions that come on your clothing labels and always avoid the dryer if you want to prolong the life of your favorite items. The clothes suffer irreparable damage, like a shrunken shirt, often end up in the trash.
The fusion of creating and recycling is the most imaginative way to bring a second life to a garment that you no longer use. For example, why not make an original cushion cover with a shirt or sweater that you no longer use? On Instagram and Pinterest, you can find endless ideas for doing something unique while avoiding adding to the mountainous scrap heap.
Keep up with sustainable haute couture
More and more upscale brands, such as Viktor & Rolf, are taking a page from anti-leather, faux-fur pioneer Stella McCartney’s play book and displaying their sustainable, recycled designs on the catwalk. Will more fancy fashion industry leaders step up?