Should we stop buying new clothes? Five rules of eco-friendly wardrobe

    30 Oct 2021

    “Fashion forms dumps very quickly”: It is really fashionable to be in eco-trend now. Such giants of the fashion industry as H&M, Adidas, Levi’s, Marks & Spencer, Nike have long been using recycling in the production of new collections, world-famous actors, athletes, models, and politicians are increasingly choosing clothing from recycled materials, and startups are developing new technological ways to process textile products.

    Meanwhile, the eco-conscious society is practicing upcycling with might and main – the reuse of things with the creation of new functionality for them. Unlike recycling, which requires a severe industrial base and costs, this practice is available to everyone and is very popular in creative circles. All over the world, upcycling is used for handmade, decor, interior design, and the creation of unusual art objects.

    Let’s read the story of the eco-activist Kapitalina Kapitalina Kaplan, who gives a second life to things. “The materials are brought to me either by acquaintances or by people who know what I do, or I find them myself in second-hand shops,” she said.

    Corduroy pants become a backpack, a suede jacket, and jeans become a banana. And one of them was once a children’s faux fur coat. An alternative to plastic bags is her reusable eco-bags for cereals and vegetables. They are sewn from the remains of curtains.

    “It was a dream of the last seven years. The topic of environmentalism inspired me; I’ve read various articles, watched movies about how clothes pollute nature. Fashion is speedy; people change clothes quickly, which form huge landfills,” says Kapitalina.

    Leather and suede are in a landfill for a very long time – up to 50 years and only after that do they decompose. Since these are second-hand materials, they do not popularize the killing of animals and the creation of farms.

    Clothing manufacturing is one of the most environmentally “dirtiest” industries. It generates 20% of the world’s wastewater and 10% of the world’s carbon emissions. This is more than all international air travel and sea transport combined.

    60% of clothes and shoes end up in a landfill one year after purchase.

    The philosophy of conscious consumption is becoming popular in the world. In the English-speaking world, a movement against buying new clothes is gaining momentum.

    Five rules of “ethical wardrobe”

    1. Buy smart: less is better.

    According to a study by The Huffington Post, people use only 80 billion of the 150 billion pieces of clothing each year. If you are faced with the problems of “nothing to wear” and at the same time “new clothes do not fit in the closet,” then you have come to think about the way of forming the wardrobe. Now conscious consumers are betting on curated wardrobe – a carefully selected wardrobe.

    When choosing a thing, use the principle “Cost per wear” (the price of an item for one dressing).

    The essence of the principle is simple: let’s imagine two things in front of us in the store. The first is Levi’s denim jacket that you can wear for years. The second is a silk summer skirt. Both items cost equally. We will wear a denim jacket more often than a silk skirt, and this is a more profitable and environmentally friendly purchase.

    And be attentive to the materials. A synthetic T-shirt decomposes in 40 years, causing tremendous damage to the environment. Cotton T-shirt – within 2-3 years, with less harm to the planet. A significant difference, isn’t it?

    Although in the textile industry there are no 100% environmentally friendly materials, since all fabrics in the production of clothing go through toxic processing (dyeing, gluing rhinestones, applying prints, etc.), however, natural materials do much less harm than artificial ones. So, nylon, acrylic, or polyester can take hundreds of years to decompose.

    1. Alter old things.

    Everyone will benefit from a hobby, so why not choose an environmentally friendly activity? As we wrote above, upcycling is very popular in the creative environment.

    If you have old things, then use your imagination and create new exciting, and valuable things! For example, an old denim skirt can easily make a new stylish eco-bag. A cracked vinyl record can be turned into a creative art object. And how many different simple video instructions are posted on YouTube on making a cute toy out of a sock or an old shirt.

    If there is a desire, then old things are an endless field for ideas and creativity.

    1. Get involved in freesiking.

    The essence of the movement is simple: give others the things you do not need. Try not to buy new ones and also use used ones. Everything is exchanged: clothes, books, equipment… Not worse than online stores!

    The primary condition is that things must be suitable for their intended use.

    The exchange format can be different. You can donate things free of charge to social institutions, orphanages, churches.

    “Not to buy new clothes” campaign: in the English-speaking world, the movement against overconsumption is gaining popularity

    In Britain and the United States, the movement of people who have stopped buying new clothes is gaining momentum, The Guardian reports. The publication tells the stories of people who have long followed these rules.

    According to the charity Wrap (Waste & Resources Action Program), which deals with environmentally sound waste management, the average service life of clothing in the UK is only 2.2 years. Unused clothes hang in the closet of Great Britain for about 30 billion pounds, and yet people continue to buy them.

    “Every week, we buy 38 million units, and 11 million units end up in landfills. We don’t have enough resources to continue feeding this monster,” said Maria Chenovet, CEO of Traid, a charity that works to stop people from throwing clothes away.

    So what can a person who loves new clothes but wants to live in a less harmful way to the environment do? According to Edwards, if you spend time on fashion sites, it does not take much imagination or desire to switch to eBay, Depop, thredUP, HEWI London, or any other similar site.

    Chenovet says that “it is important not to keep things in your wardrobe that you do not wear.” The donation of clothing returns it to circulation.

    As Cowdery says, “There is a story in clothes. If you put something on once and then throw it in the trash, he had no story. You want to know that there is life in these things.”


    You may read here why do we have to give up fur and leather clothes and what are the alternatives.

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