In western culture clothing defines success. Keeping up with trends defines a person and defines their economic status as it provides a glimpse into whether or not they can afford to keep up with a never-ending barrage of changing trends.
According to a study published on the Ellen MacArthur Foundation "A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning fashion’s future." It is estimated that more than half of fast fashion production is disposed of in under a year, and one garbage truck full of textiles is landfilled or burnt every second.
Now here are some small solutions to avoid being part of the big problem. I'll promise to try to keep it short and sweet.
1. Buy your clothing second-hand and donate what you no longer want.
There's almost no way to go wrong with this. Whether you shop thrift or consignment one thing is for certain. All of these items are 100 percent recycled. They've been given a second chance, maybe more to fulfill their purpose. According to the EPA, the average U.S. person throws away 70 pounds of textiles annually and only 15 percent of all discarded items end up getting repurposed. By shopping Second hand you offer yourself more imagination than choosing from the selection of clothing right out of the factory. It not only allows you to be sustainable but also fashionably unique. If you Have a sense of imagination and style, you can find beauty everywhere you go.
2. Ditch the trends.
Trends are like middle school boyfriends, they move on quickly. By being desperate to keep up with the daily fashion craze, you clutter your house, your mind, and the environment. The only thing you'll manage to keep clean is your wallet. See solution 1. above and create your own curated style.
I am of the unpopular opinion that when I see someone who is decked out in the latest designer brands it isn't a translation of their wealth, it's a cry for society's approval. You can get a lot of that shit at Marshalls for fuck's sake.
3. Stop. Buying. Multiples.
Have four eerily similar black shirts in varying shades of black? Pick your two favorites and donate the other half. Don't be a hoarder.
4. Shop with a purpose.
Retail therapy is truly anything but therapy. You leave with an armful of impulse buys that will probably go to your closet to die and now you have no money. Be mindful of the things that you genuinely want and need.
5. Be mindful of the materials you buy.
Many clothing items are made of Non-biodegradable and frankly toxic materials that pollute our Earth and poison our water sources. The real kicker is that while these items may fray and fall apart, it doesn't mean that they'll ever decompose. Try sticking with Cotton, Linen, Tencel, and other natural fibers while shopping. Be aware that shopping for natural fibers doesn't always mean it's sustainable but its better than wearing acrylic.
The same study published by The Ellen MacArthur Foundation states: "It has been recently estimated that half a million tonnes of plastic microfibres shed during washing ends up in the ocean and ultimately enters the food chain. In other words, we may end up eating our own clothes."
6. Save water and wash clothing sparingly.
No, one everyday wear of an item does not make it dirty. Try at least two or three. In the United States and most of the world, jeans are considered an extremely common staple item of clothing. But what many people aren't aware of is that to produce a single pair of jeans it takes about 1,800 gallons of water.
Levi Strauss CEO Chip Bergh recommends frequently placing your jeans in the freezer to kill bacteria and reduce the need to wash them as much. This works and extends the life of jeans and other clothing, however, we all know that life can get messy so don't ditch your washing machine just yet.
All in all, I have to frequently stop and ask myself, "What sacrifices are you willing to make in order to make a positive impact?" Practicing these seemingly simple habits are sometimes a pain in the ass but so is being an adult, and as an adult in modern society, I believe it is important to think not only of myself but also of the consequences of my actions. I think its time to get with the program.