What can each of us do to help our planet?
Yes, the Fashion Business has a lot to answer for regarding the dire straits the earth finds itself in, but none of us can point a finger, as we are all consumers of that industry. Whether for protection, out of modesty, or as adornment, we all wear clothing. The solution lies in each one of us identifying the small changes in our own sartorial habits that will lessen our ecological footprint. Together, it will add up to make a difference.
Greenpeace has some suggestions to “create a revolution in your wardrobe”.
1. Buy second-hand, or swop.
Incredible bargains can be found in vintage and charity shops. Also have a look on eBay, you will be surprised at what is available.You can also swop items you are tired of with friends, for things they no longer want.
2. Buy classics.
Classic styles never lose their appeal, and can be worn forever without appearing dated. They also look more sophisticated. Buy things you really love, rather than ‘fast fashion’.
3. Buy green.
Look out for brands that use environmentally friendly fabrics and natural dyes. Information on eco-friendly fashion and designers in South Africa can be found on websites such as Live Eco (http://www.liveeco.co.za). Nowadays clothing is also manufactured from recycled materials. An environmentally friendly fleece jacket, for example, can be made from over 50% recycled waste products such as used plastic, fibre scraps and old fabrics.
4. Buy good quality.
Well-made clothing lasts. Inspect zips, seams and buttons. The longer you can wear it, the longer it stays off landfills.
If you cannot fix it yourself, find a local tailor to do it. Clothes can also be refashioned by changing buttons, making dresses into skirts, jeans into shorts, etc. Find inspiration at http://refashionco-op.blogspot.com/
6. Go organic.
Especially with cotton, as this is a very ecologically damaging crop.
7. Support Fairtrade.
Find information on Fairtrade certified products in South Africa at http://www.fairtrade.org.za/.
You will be supporting environmentally sound production methods, as well as fair labour practices.
8. Question Distressed Denim.
The fact that that faded effect is frequently obtained through chemical treatment, is not the only issue. Distressing denim through sandblasting is causing the fatal lung disease silicosis in factory workers.
9. Wash green.
Much of the environmental impact of clothes comes from washing them. Wash full loads. Heating water uses electricity, so set the machine to lower temperatures, or use cold water for items that are not heavily soiled. Your clothing will last and retain colour longer. Try to dry washing in the sun and wind, rather than through tumble drying.
10. Buy local.
Apart from boosting the economy and saving vital jobs, you will be lessening the carbon footprint of transporting wares over vast distances.
So… there you have a few suggestions. Let’s try it.
Together we can do it!