It is estimated that the average North American discards 68 pounds of fabric each year. We can reduce this carbon footprint by making mindful changes to how we shop and handle our clothes everyday. The following are suggested tips to get started:
1. Buy organic
When shopping for clothes, look out for the fabric labels. Materials like cotton, silk and wool designated as ‘organic’ mean that they were grown in compliance with organic agricultural standards, including being free from pesticides and herbicides. Often the designer will include a special tag, which highlights the garment’s eco-conscious features.
2. Be (re)purposeful
Choose to buy clothes and accessories that have been repurposed. Repurposing generally entails taking discarded or leftover material and using them to create a new product. Local designers who use this method to drive their collections include Adhesif Clothing, Erin Templeton, and Divina Denuevo.
3. Buy preloved pieces
Choose to buy clothes and accessories that are preloved – items previously worn or used by another individual before you. This is an excellent way to buy one-of-a-kind pieces at steal deal prices. One fashionista’s ‘trash’ is your new prize. These clothes are often barely worn, or just require a prewash before wearing out. There is a wide spectrum of preloved boutiques in the city, from consignment stores like Front & Company on Main to vintage gems at Mintage on Commercial Drive.
4. Wash your clothes less
Try out more eco-friendly ways of washing your clothes, which have less impact on the environment. Sites like Clevercare list easy options to implement; such as using a lower temperature on your washing machine that’s less wearing on your garment or buying laundry detergent that’s free of perfumes and harmful chemicals like Nellie’s.
5. Modify your clothes
Once you’re tired of your garment or it starts looking dated, get creative and try modifying it in a way that gives it new life. For example, a maxi skirt with an elasticized waistband can be converted into a dress by moving the waistband up to the armpits and using a belt to cinch in the new waistline. Hemlines and blazer cuts can be modernized by having them altered by a tailor.
6. Get creative
If you can’t figure out a way of prolonging the garment’s life, try repurposing it. Old t-shirts and tank tops can be used as wash cloths, as well as insulation to wrap hot food in for dinner parties. Ripped stockings can be cut up and used as headbands. Again, use your creativity!
7. Give it away
If prolonging and repurposing aren’t options, choose to consign or donate the garment rather than discarding it to become landfill. Consigning not only reaps returns as you share in the profit of the sale of your item, the garment will receive renewed love and attention by its new owner. Donating to such organizations as the Salvation Army and Dress for Success means helping less fortunate individuals get back on their feet. Alternatively, pass on the garment to a loved one or friend; they will only appreciate you for it.
Written by Style by Fire, the savvy girl’s guide to Vancouver fashion & shopping. Join long-time fashion friends, Miranda Sam and Aurora Chan, as they share their insider fashion news around the city. Check out their fashion & retail blog or connect with them at [email protected].