I never use to reflect on clothes very much. Clothes, you buy the ones that flatter you, use them and then donate them, right? Then I saw “The True Cost” , a Netflix documentary about the dark side of fashion. (Spoiler alert it’s not very sustainable).
The environmental effects of fast fashion are huge. The ”cost” in water consumption for a pair of jeans is 3781 liter (998 gallons). Then there’s the cost of the deterioration of earth. The high demand of cotton requires us to chemically fast forward the growth of cotton; chemicals that ruin the soil, wildlife and health of the farmers. Speaking of chemicals; the chemicals used to color the fabrics are toxic – like heavy metal toxic, something I though we abandoned in the 70ies. Of course, as all production & transportation, there will be CO2 emissions. And in the end we buy cheap clothes wear them a couple of times and then donate ship them off to another place where they rot in the ground, poisoning the soil event more.
Fashion gluttony is what it is; and we’re all guilty of it.
Then again, we all want to look good. I’m no fashionista, but I’m very aware of what signals my clothes and style send to the outside world. If you’re well dressed, doors open. So, I doubt that any of us are interested in a full boycott of the fashion industry and start using Ganny’s boring, old cloaks. (No offense Grannies, you’re not boring)
In an attempt to have a more sustainable wardrobe I’ve made up a few guidelines I use when buying cloths:
I think of the long term
My aim is that any new clothing should last at least 10 years (ok maybe not underwear, but everything else). Therefore I usually go for the more expensive (and higher quality) option. Yes, it’s a lot of money when you buy it, however if you then split that cost over 10 years it’s not that bad, usually even cheaper than buying new every year. Also I end up buying more “classic styles”, since I want my clothes to work even years from now. (I wear a lot of black)
I buy fewer things. When I’m about to buy yet another black sweater I ask myself: Do I really need this? Usually the answer is “ No, because I already have 5 different version of black sweaters similar to this one”. So I don’t buy it. I have a smaller wardrobe than before, but I use all of it. It’s a good feeling.
I try to only buy clothes that are made out of natural fibers such as wool, cotton and silk. Why? Natural materials are biodegradable and hence sustainable. Synthetic materials aren’t. So the clothes we throw away will stay in the landfills forever. Also every time we do our laundry, micofibers are washed out in our oceans. Fish eat the fibers, we eat the fish and so the cycle of plastics begins.