Change your Fashion Habits & help save our Planet

22nd May 2019

Posted In: So In Demand

The fashion industry is the second largest contributor to global landfill with 1 in 4 throwing clothing into landfill rather than donating to charity shops or recycling in some other way. The fashion industry contributes more CO2 emissions than shipping and international flights put together. With more and more of these terrifying facts becoming widely understood, more of us are swerving away from fast fashion, aiming to make our wardrobes sustainable and ecofriendly to make a real difference to our planet.

What is Fast Fashion?

Fast fashion is about making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available and has flooded the clothing market both in stores and online.  There used to be two clear fashion seasons for spring/ summer and autumn/ winter, but some retailers now have up to 52 collections per year facilitating our desire to have access to endless new clothes. It is thought most people in this country buy a large suitcase of clothes every year.

Maria Macklin*, Image Consultant at House of Colour, stresses how important making little changes can be for our planet. “We buy too many items that we don’t need or don’t actually suit us, often just because it is on sale. Sometimes we are literally gluttonous with our wardrobes and disassociate ourselves from the environmental and financial cost of over consumption. It is estimated that 10 billion items of clothing are sat unworn in wardrobes in the UK & Ireland alone. Placed on a clothes rail these items would stretch from Dublin to New York and back again two and a half times. In the last 15 years, clothing production has doubled, but the number of times an item is worn has decreased by 36%.

When you go shopping ask yourself if you really need and want that new garment? Is it absolutely perfect on you? Be choosey.  Not only will this help our planet, but it will also help your bank account!

“Try to see the contents of your wardrobe as an investment. Discover and understand what truly suits you and make your wardrobe work hard for you by buying fewer items which are better quality.  We need to educate ourselves about the processes that are needed to make our clothes including the environmental impact of them being picked or produced, washed, spun, knitted, woven, finished, sewn and transported before we go shopping. We need to choose clothes that are sustainable and ecofriendly and part of a capsule wardrobe (see main image) that gives us maximum choice of outfits from a smaller number of clothes that all work with each other.”

Even making small changes could make a difference. Here are some of the best ways Maria recommends we do just that.

•People are buying more clothes and wearing them See the contents of your wardrobe as an investment with longevity in mind. Understanding what truly suits you and seeing past fads is an important step. Aim for timelessness and trends that have a longer life. It is possible to look current and be kind to the planet

•Buy less but concentrate on cost per wear ie actual cost is not the purchase price, but the price divided by how many times you are going to wear it. Choose better quality clothes to get great cost per wear.  Avoid cheap tat.

•Look out for products that are made from recycled fibres, organic cottons and quality materials. Use locally sourced renewable materials when you can. Avoid polyester or nylon because they’re non-biodegradable. Synthetic fabrics are fashion’s equivalent to single-use plastic.

•Typically (but not always) middle and higher end retailers tend to have better supply chain ethics than their fast fashion retail compatriots. Buy cheap and someone else pays. The likelihood is if your ‘perfect’ dress was only £20, then it was probably made in factories practicing cheap labour and poor conditions. Buy from brands who are actively working to improve the environment and put pressure on fashion firms to “eco-fy” their labels, by choosing companies committed to eco fashion practises.

•Having a disposable mindset is not good for the planet’s health. Be choosey and ask yourself do you REALLY love the garment you are about to buy. Don’t buy something on the sale which you wouldn’t have bought otherwise. Consider where you are making purchases – look out for vintage and pre-loved items that are in your colour and style (including charity shops). It is possible to find items which have been hardly worn or have a lot more life in them yet.  It goes without saying -never ask for a plastic shopping bag.

•If an existing garment doesn’t feel quite right for you, ask a friend who is nifty with a sewing machine to alter it or take it to the tailors. Changing the neckline, leg length or hem length is a classic way to make an item that has always felt slightly wrong, feel really right.

•Create a virtual filter over your wardrobe doors. Always offer hand me downs and see if any of your friends are interested in a few wardrobe swaps. Re-gift unwanted presents, take unwanted clothes to the charity shops and sell through dress agencies or online such as eBay.

•Water wastage is very environmentally unfriendly so cutting down on your laundry or always doing a full wash will help.

•Create a capsule wardrobe that makes you look and feel amazing. A capsule wardrobe is the minimum number of items to create the maximum number of outfits. Don’t repeatedly buy items you already have – how many coats, neutral tees and pairs of trousers do we actually need? Don’t double up. The strongest basis for a capsule wardrobe is using your colour palette and understanding your style profile because you should be able to wear any of the clothes in your wardrobe with one another to vary your look.

•Educate yourself about landfill. The North Face and Marks & Spencers allow consumers to drop off unwanted items in their stores, regardless of condition or brand and they are then repurposed for another use. High-street names such as H&M, Levi’s and MAC reward you for recycling your unwanted goods. Being wasteful is far from cool.

Because of us, the planet is vastly degrading year on year. Even small changes in our consumption and attitude towards buying and recycling clothes could just make all the difference.

*Maria Macklin (pictured left) wears many hats (pardon the pun!) and offers a wide range of services – Image Consultant, Colour Consultant, Colour Analysis, Personal Style Advice, Personal Shopper, Personal Brand Coach and Wedding Style Consultant for House of Colour, Ireland.

You can contact her here>>