Clothes may not seem like the most wasteful item we own. After all, we wear them for a decent amount of time before we throw them away. But are there more sustainable approaches to clothing that can waste less? And can we go with more environmentally friendly materials?
Second Hand Clothes
If you source them from the right place, second-hand clothing can be a great problem solver and makes ‘fast fashion items’ more sustainable – because they have already been used by someone. Charity shops are great because they are very strict about what they sell, how they clean it before sale and so on. Clothing manufacture does take a lot from the environment so going with second-hand clothes helps balance this out.
If you plan on having more children…
Then choosing to store baby/toddler clothes can also help improve sustainability. Children outgrow their outfits very quickly so they are often in great condition, and easily saved for others. If you decide you aren’t having any more babies or think several items are not appropriate for a future child (eg, a different gender), then consider selling them on the FB marketplace. It’s also a great place to source clothes in a larger size for your kids to grow into. Some of my favourite tops my boys have worn came from the FB marketplace.
There are a few tips for making your clothing care more sustainable:
Don’t wash your clothes every time you wear them
Modern materials are very clever and mean you don’t need to wash them every time you wear them unless there’s a stain or something specific that needs cleaning. One tip is to use a little less detergent to make sure they are well rinsed before hanging to dry. You can also find many eco detergents readily available these days.
Line dry as much as possible
Dryers use a huge amount of electricity and don’t always create the nicest smelling clothes. So where possible line dry your clothes and let the fresh air do the work for you.
Avoid dry cleaning
The worst way of cleaning clothes is dry cleaning, using loads of harsh chemicals and resources. Most clothes now don’t need dry cleaning so avoid it as much as possible. And when choosing clothes, aim for ones that don’t need it.
If you do have dry cleaning only clothes, see if you can use a spot treatment on any stains when they happen to reduce the number of times that you dry clean the item. A gentle hand wash with some liquid soap can often do a good job and leave them to air dry.
Use water-saving washers
When you are looking for a new washer, hunt down the ones that save the most resources – either power or water (or both). Front-loading washers are less water heavy and are gentler on the clothing – the fewer the washes, the longer the clothes last.
The other area you can consider is the actual material in the clothing. Some materials are more sustainable than others. Here’s a few ideas:
Look at hemp
Hemp is one of the top sustainable materials because it doesn’t need a pesticide to grow or chemicals to process it into clothing. It is a highly renewable material and tops most lists of environmentally friendly fabrics.
Ethically produced clothing
Vegan, artisan, locally produced or organic are all examples of ethically produced clothing that are very sustainable and avoid pollution and animal testing. Often these clothes are well made and can last a long time, too.
Read up on cotton
Cotton is everywhere but not all cotton is equal. Look at the information on the cotton and watch for ethically produced cotton that avoids chemicals and pesticides in its production.
These ideas show you can be fashion conscious and still be sustainable, choosing clothing that has the right materials, washing them in sustainable ways and even using second-hand clothes. All the while, you can still have your look!