With 200,000 tonnes of textile waste produced per year, here are five easy ways you can reduce your fashion waste.
September 11, 2020
During quarantine, I’ve been making more space in my wardrobe and I’ve found myself throwing out clothes I’ve only worn once or twice. I realised that most of these clothes would probably end up in landfills with many other people's old clothes. Right now, Ireland and the UK generate over 200,000 tonnes of textile waste per year including household furnishing, linen, and unwanted clothes. To do our part in tackling this problem – in particular, textile waste – here are five incredibly easy ways to reduce your fashion waste.
1. Reimagine your wardrobe: Upcycle, upcycle, upcycle
As a child, did you ever let your imagination run wild and style your blanket into an outfit like a runway dress, a tunic, a headscarf, or even a cape? If you have, then you’ve actually been upcycling since you were a child. Translating this to your current self, could you rise to the challenge by styling an old shirt in 5 ways you can wear differently?
You might have also heard the term upcycling before and thought: But you don’t need to own your own sewing machine and create a dress out of jeans? Upcycling can be as simple as cutting a pair of jeans into shorts or using a thread and needle to create scrunchies from old t-shirts.
2. Invest in quality not quantity
You might think buying cheaper essentials like lingerie, t-shirts, and work clothes will save money. Trust me, I too have fallen victim into this trap! In reality, those cheap versions just don’t last as long and you end up back in the shop a few months later. It is much more cost-efficient – and environmentally friendly – to invest in sustainable options made from high-quality materials.
Responsible fashion brands put people and the planet first. The quality and purpose of the products are to do the job sustainably. By investing in clothes from brands with a triple bottom line, you can help reduce your fashion footprint.
3. Handle your clothes with care
Putting your clothes in the laundry without reading the label is basically like ticking the box when you haven’t actually read the Terms & Conditions. Most of the time, it works out just fine. But on rare occasions, you may find yourself with something entirely different from what you put into the machine. I’m no stranger to washing machine disasters. I am the proud owner of more than one white wool jumper that turned pink while in the wash because I didn’t read the washing guidelines for my red undies.
Washing guidelines are there for a reason: to prevent wear and tear of your clothes. By washing and caring for clothes the right way you are also caring for the environment since fewer of your clothes will end up in a landfill prematurely. You might even save your favourite top from an early demise since you’ll be less likely to throw it out after only a couple of wears.
4. Borrow from friends
With new trends being set nearly every week, borrowing clothes from your bestie or sister can definitely lessen your fashion waste. For special events or even a normal night out, if you’re only going to wear the outfit once, you’re better off borrowing your wardrobe from a friend for the night.
If you and your friends don’t have the same style in clothes, check out Nuw, an online platform that allows you to borrow or swap clothes from other people in Ireland and the UK. This can also be an amazing way to simultaneously save money, reduce your fashion waste, and meet new friends who share the same interest in sustainable fashion and the same style!
5. D&D it! Donate and (or) Depop it.
If you have just cleared out your wardrobe and discovered a bunch of clothes you no longer want to wear, it’s always a good deed to donate them to charity shops. That way you are reducing the number of textiles that end up in landfills. Plus, you’re be helping a good cause and giving your old clothes a second chance.
Alternatively, you could sell your clothes through online platforms such as Depop. That way you’ll be helping the planet while making a bit of extra cash. This has the benefit of knowing you’re contributing to two good causes: reducing your fashion footprint and boosting your bank balance.
Hopefully, you’ve found these 5 tips helpful. By reducing the amount of fashion waste going to landfills, you’re supporting the global circular economy, which is focused on eliminating waste and maximising the use of precious resources. Adopting these tips for a more sustainable fashion lifestyle will not only give a new lease of life to your current wardrobe – you can be both fashionable and sustainable – but at the same, reduce your fashion waste, so you’ll feel good too!