How your clothing choices impact the planet

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How your clothing choices impact the planet

It can be hard to appreciate the clothes hanging in our wardrobe when we’re constantly faced with the temptation of buying something shiny and new. Shop windows are filled with trends hot off the runway, beckoning us to make a feel-good purchase. And social media bombards us daily with marketing messages that promise a great lifestyle if we buy the latest must-have clothes. While it may be convenient and quick, fast fashion has huge downfalls – the biggest being its harm on the planet. Another is how your clothing choices impact the planet. Do you ever pause to consider the process that your clothing has gone through before it gets inside that pretty shop window?

You may be surprised to learn that your favourite dress, t-shirt or pair of pants have gone through intense processes. First comes the fibre, which comes from a plant, animal or crude oil, and usually involves energy and high-pollutant process. This fibre is processed until it can be spun into yarn, which is then knitted or woven into the fabric. Finally, dyes and bleaches are added to the material before it is made into a ready-to-wear garment. These steps usually occur in different factories, and can even take place in different countries. Not to mention the huge volume of precious water that goes into making a single piece, as each item goes through the chemical processes necessary to turn it into delicate material and add colour. It goes without saying – this has a huge impact on the environment.

Equipped with this information, how can you make better clothing choices that have a positive impact on the planet?

Invest in high-quality pieces

Because there are so many cheap clothing options, we rarely think about quality. We simply buy new clothes when the old ones have lost their appeal. But we’ve all had an experience with a new pair of shoes that have broken after only two months of wear. If we stop buying poor quality items and invest in long-term pieces, it will allow us to keep our clothes longer, and encourage brands to improve their processes.

Think twice before throwing your old clothes out

How your clothing choices impact the planet

It’s normal to want to get rid of your clothes, especially when you’re moving home or spring cleaning. It can be tempting to chuck out items when they lose a button, get a tear or no longer hold appeal, but it doesn’t have to be this way! There are so many options for extending the lifespan of your clothing, accessories and shoes:

  • Try to repair them
  • Pass on pre-loved clothes to friends and family
  • Donate unwanted items to charity
  • Return clothes to brands that recycle
  • Place them in a textile recycling bin

Shop for secondhand clothes, swap and rent

Speaking of recycling, have you ever considered buying secondhand clothes yourself? People tend to recycle their clothes when they’re moving home or making a big life change, and you can benefit from that! There are plenty of stores and online shops that stock quality preloved pieces that range from cheap options to brand names.

And if you’re wanting to switch things up, you can always swap your clothes. Clothing swap initiatives are popping up in cities all over the world with people exchanging items they no longer wear for other people’s clothes that they will use.

Another growing option is the clothing rental industry. This is a particularly great choice for clothes that you won’t wear for a long time (pregnancy wear, baby clothes or outfits for special events).

Purchase from brands that are transparent

How your clothing choices impact the planet

It can be hard to find out where your clothes originate from and how they are made, as fast fashion brands tend to hide this information. But you may be surprised to learn that there are some brands that openly share detailed information about their processes. For example, outdoor clothing brand Patagonia has long been dedicated to empowering its workers and making sure that they’re working in healthy conditions. Clothing brand Everlane reveals the true costs behind their products – from materials to labour to transportation – and offer them to customers without the traditional high retail markup.

If you want to do a little more digging, Baptist World Aid release an annual Ethical Fashion Guide grading the big brands on their sustainability practices. This guide will help you make more informed clothing choices.

While it may take time and effort to make better clothing choices, you will reap the benefits once you start. You’ll enjoy long-term wear, keep more cash in your pocket, and ultimately know that you’re making a difference to the planet.

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