Since I started looking into all the elements of how we can reduce our waste and impact on the Planet it shocked me to find out that clothing industry is the second-largest polluter in the world. Apparently in the Western world we wear one piece of clothing only 7 times before chunking it out. Which is crazy but thinking about it, I was no different years ago. People not getting any insight of the complicated business that involves making clothes, getting clothes so cheap now + social media and advertisements are constantly delivering the same message – buy new / be new / be happy. Clothing become just as “single use” as a coffee cups. I recently watched The True Cost which got me to have a better understanding of the process and it also made me tear up about the human cruelty attached to it. So I thought I put it in a post my ideas how I am trying to reduce our textile waste and the polluting effect of clothes.
#1 Year challenge. What it means is, I decided back in January (2017) that from the 1st of February I won’t be buying any clothing (and beauty products) items for myself for a whole year (I got the inspiration from @mamalinauk and her hashtag #saynotostuff) . I have to say the first few months was really hard. I used to get myself something small every other week. I had to be strong and resist temptation so I stopped browsing Asos/ H&M and Zara or get into clothes shops at my lunch break (while I was still working). I know I have chosen an easy year for this challenge as I still had maternity clothes and breastfeeding tops I knew I will live in. Plus I spend my time mainly at home, playgrounds, soft plays where fashion is more like “everything goes as long as I am dressed”. Still I started feel so much better months after months not spending time, energy and money looking for items I could buy but don’t really need. It helped me (and still helping) focus on what I actually have and make it work.
#2 Creating a capsule wardrobe. I wrote a blog post about it back in April (here) but I am no where near executing it. Still that is my ultimate goal and I still have 6 months to go + 10 kg / 22.05 lb. extra baby weight to shift.
#3 Second hand clothes. Before kids I already got into eBay. (sorry I can’t do charity shops -I found them too daunting but they are also a great place to source items) and got most of my items from there. I set up filters to alert me when items get listed . These filters were like, size 10-12 / stripy (always stripy) / dress and added 10-15 brands I liked. Every week I had dozens to browser through and pick the ones I like usually for peanuts. I also love the thrill of bidding.
#4 Fix it. I remember in school we were taught how to fix clothes. I don’t know if it is still in the curriculum but I think it should be. I have to say I am not great at it but I know the basics. So when my favorite breastfeeding dress got torn 2 days before flying to Hungary I got those threads and needles out and fixed it. I knew if I weren’t doing this challenge (#1 above) I would have looked for next day delivery on some breastfeeding dress. Next stop, my socks.
#5 Things I’d Tell My 20-Year-Old Self. (I just loved writing this so I thought I add it to this post) Stop buying 20 jeans/ week and millions of top you end up giving away with still a label attached to it years later. Looks is not that important for you, trust me. The type of person you are and the type of guy you are after / friends you want to make, they will like you for being you not the things you wear. Your future Man won’t be looking at your wardrobe to see if you have enough outfits for 2 weeks so you won’t be going on a date in the same dress. Just focus on who you are and who you want to be as a person. Save the cash and travel more. Love ya xxx
#6 Opting for ethical companies. Although we are getting loads of hand-me-downs for the boys I am so grateful to bump into an amazing company Art and Eden. When I started my maternity leave with Caelan I looked into becoming a brand representatives for kids clothes. After finding a few who wanted to work with me I realized it really isn’t a route I wanted to go down (gain followers / get free stuff). I found it very stressful and it really isn’t for me. But I did bump into Art and Eden and I am so glad. They not only ethical but I absolutely love their design and their values. Interview with the CEO is up here. As for me, I have looked up some amazing ethical sustainable fashion companies, like People Tree but when I looked at the price tag I knew I won’t be their regular customer. However as my wardrobe is getting smaller / I am more aware of the clothing industry and the idea for quality oven quantity, a good balance between 2nd hand and ethical fashion sounds just about the way forward. I am also excited to attend clothes swap events next year after my challenge which I keep seeing happening.
#7 Organic cotton. Ok, I could just copy and paste this article but instead here are some buzz words why organic cotton for us all the way!! “Conventionally grown cotton uses more insecticides / These chemicals can be deadly (kills farmers – leads to babies born with disabilities in surrounding areas) / pesticides kills birds – 65 million annually – Pesticide residue has been increasingly discovered in breast milk ” (Yes, WTF?) It also prevents suicides – Step 1) farmers buy generically modified seeds (gets into debts) – Step 2) buys insecticides and chemicals (more debts) – Step 3) new seeds not responding and growing well in farmer’s land – can’t sell – no income – suicides. Just writing about it makes me sick.
#8 Natural fiber. All synthetic fibers (nylon / polyester etc) releases microscope plastic into our oceans after every wash. These tiny plastic particles then end up in our food chain / in the oceans. Natural fibers are: organic cotton / linen (made from flax) / silk / wool / cashmere / hemp / jute / bamboo (I want to get into sport again and not in all the synthetic that is available on the high street). Clothing made from these natural fibers could be the step preventing these plastic microfibers entering our water systems. I also read about the new generation washing machine, Xeros which won’t be using water to clean our clothes, sounds cool. Go on science – help us out here!
I wanted to keep this post light-hearted (and short) and just list down how I reduce our textile pollution but the more I read about the sadder and angrier I got and wanted to highlight the issue a bit more. So apologies for the darker take on it. I hope you enjoyed it and I would love to read your comments if you have any.