Let’s just rip the band-aid off this one: NOPE!
We need to look at how we consume as much as how we dispose of clothing.
Our environment is continually flooded with more textile waste every year. Here are some stats on clothing and textile waste.
- Most textile waste comes from post-consumer goods (aka the stuff we wear)
- Around the world, we purchase more than 80 billion pieces of clothing a year. That's 400% more than 20 years ago
- Fast fashion creates 52 'micro-seasons' a year
- In 2018, one fast fashion retailer produced 1.5 BILLION pieces of clothing
- We are keeping garments we buy half as long as we did 20 years ago
As consumers we are marketed to constantly, we’re told this item or that item will make us happy. We are bombarded with emails about sales, new items, and limited offers.
Buying is ingrained in our culture. It's hard to get away from it and to realize we don’t really need all these things.
Changing how we consume clothing
It isn’t easy but we put together a list of tips that helped us to curb our purchasing. We’ll tell you, we aren’t perfect, but you don’t have to be perfect to make a difference.
- Ask yourself, do I really need this? It is easy to see a sale or a cute jacket in the window display and just buy it. But will you wear it? Do you think it’s great because you have something almost exactly like it? Step back and think.
- Purchase high quality items. A high quality winter coat can last decades compared to the bargain-priced fast fashion coat. If you can, go higher end. We know that unfortunately, the ability to purchase such items is not accessible to everyone. (that will have to be a whole other blog post)
- Repair items. Lost button, broken zipper, small rip or hole - we used to toss those items but lots of fixes are easy to do yourself or have a dry cleaner fix. And it saves you money. $20 for a new zipper on your fancy fleece is way less than a new fleece.
- Unsubscribe from retailers email lists. It’s not easy - who wants to miss a sale?! But how often do you need what they are selling? Plus, your inbox will thank you! What could you do with that time (and money) you get back? Community garden? Pickling? Baking?
- While we’re talking about that, go ahead and create a list of other uses for your hard earned money - trips, classes, a night out with friends - and save for those. Experiences lead to a lot more happiness than things!
- Survey your closet to see what you need for the upcoming season instead of blindingly buying new items. Who knew you already had 8 scarves, 4 pairs of gloves, and 3 hats?
- Research brands for quality and sustainability information. Lots of brands advertise their ‘sustainability’ but if you dig in it is often a lot more marketing than substance. Good On You is a great resource to learn about sustainable brands.
- Create a style based on classic pieces and accent with a couple trendy items to cut down on new purchases.
- Change where you shop. Local thrift and consignment stores can have a great selection and you're supporting local businesses or nonprofits. Win-win! Chicago has lots of options like Outskirts Vintage or Mr. & Mrs. Digz or The Brown Elephant. A quick Google search can turn up lots of results.