Sustainable Clothing & Fashion

What we wear says a lot about who we are. Individual style helps us express ourselves and feel comfortable and happy with how we look. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to look your best. The growth of the fast fashion industry means, if we wanted to, we’re able to buy a whole new outfit every week, for around the same cost as a takeaway meal or a round of drinks at the pub.

Shopping for something new can give you a rush of happy endorphins. It’s a way to spend a Saturday afternoon with friends; it passes time when sat on the bus or is even the first thing you do in the morning because your phone notifications flash up with a limited time 20% off sale (and it’d be rude to leave your saved items in the basket at that price!). And so what if you go off it after a few wears – it was cheap, right? The thing is for all the benefits of cheap clothing, there are also cons that come with it and we need to be more aware of those too.

clothes shop chelmsford

Fast fashion is unsustainable

Fast fashion currently accounts for approximately 2% to the UK’s carbon footprint and this amount is only going to increase as the fashion industry is expected to rise by 63% by 2030.

Yet at the same time, it is estimated that more than 30% of clothes in Europeans’ wardrobes have not been used for at least a year. Does that sound familiar? When we do eventually discard our unwanted garments, half of them will go to waste and cant be recycled. So what needs to change?

We need to slow fast fashion down

To help make a real change, we need to slow down how much we consume. We need to forget fast fashion and move over to slow fashion. Slow fashion asks consumers to buy fewer clothes of better quality and to keep them for longer.

It calls for a change in mindset. The less we buy into fast fashion clothing, the less demand there is for the production of new garments, which in turn means a lot less natural resources being unsustainably used up.

If we all wore the items of clothing we’ve brought for twice as long, the UK fashion industry would produce 44% less emissions. When the next sale alert pops up on your phone, consider how much of a bargain it really is and how much do you really need them.

clothing shop sale

How we look after our clothes is a big problem too.

It has now been proven that just as much environmental damage is done once we have brought an item of clothing. This is due to energy, water and chemicals (detergents) used in the process of washing, tumble-drying and ironing an item of clothing, plus there is the issue of microplastics shedding into the water while being washed.

However, by making small changes to the way we wear and wash our clothes we can reduce environmental damage we are unknowingly causing. Ways we can do this include:

  • Avoiding tumble-drying
  • Reducing washing temperature and only washing full loads
  • Wherever possible washing your clothing less (jeans and jackets are a good place to start)
  • Avoiding unnecessary ironing
  • Purchasing eco-friendly clothing that has no plastic within the fabric (meaning no microplastics are produced when washed)
  • Donating or selling clothes when you no longer want them
sustainable clothing and textiles chelmsford

So what can I do differently?

Every change, big or small, helps improve the environmental impacts that we as individuals and as a community have on our environment. Here are a few more changes that you can make that will help make a huge difference:

A new way to buy second-hand – Many leading high-street brands are now selling used clothes in their shops, this allows the joy and experience of buying a new item of clothing without the environmental impact. When you’re next out clothes shopping, keep an eye out for the ‘vintage’, ‘renewal’ or ‘pre-loved’ section of the stores.

Buy with warranty or repair services – Some leading brands now offer long-term warranties that include free repairs of products such as jeans or shoes. This is a fantastic way to make a long term, sustainable choice that will save you money in the long run and reduce your personal environmental impact. Also look out for companies that offer instructions for home repair, or details on upcycling or recycling on the labels.

Rent what you wear – Businesses are now starting to pop up that offer clothes subscription services, this works by individuals opting to pay a monthly fee to rent a fixed number of garments/outfits at a time. This means keeping up with modern trends without buying new clothes that will inevitably be worn for a few months before living out the rest of its life in a wardrobe or chest of drawers.