5 EASY WAYS TO MAKE YOUR WARDROBE MORE SUSTAINABLE
"There are millions living in slums and I have a drawer just for belts — there's something wrong with this equation." So I wrote in the intro to my book, and it was this quote that captured the imagination of the ABC's Patrick Carey recently.
According to a 2006 Cambridge University study, British women were then consuming four times as many clothes as their 1980 counterparts. What's the betting that it's worse now, eh?
"Since then," wrote Carey, "the continued rise of fast fashion has led to widespread environmental degradation, unsafe working conditions for garment workers and a waste problem much bigger than ever anticipated. But how does one start the process of slowing down?"
HOW INDEED?! Herewith, 5 tips for you from me:
1. Identify a goal and be realistic
You can't solve pollution, fair living wages and over consumption in one garment, at least, not easily. It helps to clarify the causes that are most meaningful to you: Is it animal welfare or organic textiles that stokes the fire in your belly? Is it ensuring fair wages are paid to the people who make your clothes? Ask: 'Can I buy smarter with that goal in mind?'
2. Get tech savvy and do your research
That doesn't have to mean three days of wading through supply chain audit reports. Not many of us are realistically going to do that .... but it is possible to spend an extra five minutes doing a bit of Googling. Get familiar with websites like Ethical Clothing Australia , my new obsession Project Just and free apps like Good On You, which provide info on the environmental and ethical impacts of retailers' and designer' production methods.
3.Reconnect and shop local
Shopping local means that you are reducing air miles and therefore reducing your eco-footprint! Win! Plus if things are made in Australia, they are much more likely to be produced without sweatshop conditions. There are so many amazing local designers embracing ethical fashion. Here's just a few of my favourites: Citizen Wolf, Kacey Devlin, Bianca Spender, and my friend Estelle's fab Micky in the Van (pictured) - she is making her flamboyant pieces to order in Melbourne with The Social Studio.
4.Befriend a tailor & embrace repair culture
Buy things that were built to last. When wear and tear happen, don't chuck them, fix them! Make friends with your local cobbler or tailor. They do still exist, but if we don't support them, they won't for much longer. We're the first generation that has lost the habit of fixing clothes, either ourselves or through a service, but it is becoming more cool to embrace repair culture. At the Peppermint Magazine Pep Talks event in Sydney last week I met Cheli from The Maker's Lab in Rozelle, Sydney - they hold all sorts of sewing classes. Also in Sydney, Bobbin & Ink is so great and I'm hearing great things about Sew Make Create in Chippendale. What if we flipped our habit of going shopping as a social activity and made the fun & social thing to do on a Saturday attending a sewing workshop or a knitting class, or heading to a repair cafe? I'm game if you are.
5. Don't be a tosser!
Fashion's not disposable — it's not a perishable item — and it's not biodegradable. Even supposedly biodegradable, organic fabrics like wool don't break down easily in landfill because the conditions aren't right. Landfill isn't compost. Repair, reuse, recycle, refuse.
Slightly tired or boring clothes can be updated much more easily than you think with a bit of D.I.Y or the help of your local sewing service. Unwanted clothes in good nick can go to an op shop. Diary date: National Op Shop Week is at the end of August. Or consider holding a clothes swap! Old blankets and towels can be used by local animal shelters. Donate granny's old furs to Snuggle Coats. Tear up threadbare sheets and towels and use them as rags for cleaning (which you can wash and re-use innumerable times, BTW).