The fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters on our planet. The average consumer throws away about 30 kilograms of clothing per year. Globally, textile waste adds up to 13 million tons each year. 85% of all textiles go to landfill each year, whereas 95% could be reused or recycled. This zero waste week, we want to take the time to learn what we can do to reduce textile waste in our wardrobe. Here is our breakdown.
Prolong the life of your clothes
Preventing textile waste starts with buying less. The key to making this happen is prolonging the life of the clothes that you already own. This involves taking good care of your garments. Dedicate some time to learning how to maintain your items. Make sure you wash your clothes according to their washing instruction label. Also, find out if you need to treat them with any special products. Some brands have a dedicated Product Care page on which you can find all the info to make your life easier.
When you love something and wear it loads, it will show wear and tear at some point. Assess the situation and see if you can fix the tears, resew the buttons, or put on a new sole at the local cobbler. Investing in a small mending kit or having something repaired will ultimately be cheaper than buying new clothes and prevents waste.
Does the item not fit you anymore or do you find yourself not wearing it? Don't part ways with it just yet. There are a bunch of YouTube videos out there that show you how to upcycle clothing. Get creative by cropping old jeans into shorts, creating a dress out of a big men's shirt, or refashion a skirt into a cute top. If you don't have a sewing machine - don't fret. Simply add ''no sew'' in the search bar for easy, sew-free clothing revamps.
Perhaps other people would love to wear your unwanted items. Organize a clothing swap with friends or family members, or look for one in your area. Some bigger cities regularly host a clothing swap. Have a look at Facebook events and there might just be one coming up. And a bonus: you might go home with a couple of new items as well!
If you don't have access to a clothing swap, or if your circle just has a very different sense of style 😉, you can donate your clothes to local charities who can hand them out to people in need. Another option is donating your clothes to the thrift store. Perhaps someone will give it a second life there.
Your clothing piece might be beyond repair... But that doesn't mean it can't serve another use. You can cut up old tees into reusable cotton rounds or cloths you can use for cleaning and polishing. This article has 15 other ways of reusing old fabric. As a final resort, you can bring worn-out textiles to the clothing recycling bin.
Buy less, and make it last
Lastly, it all comes down to consuming less. You can't throw things away that you don't have. That's why it's important to choose high-quality items made from sustainable materials that will last you for years.
Bonus tip: prevent microplastic pollution
Research has revealed that 35% of microplastics in oceans come from clothing. Did you know that garments made of polyester, nylon, acrylic, and other synthetic fibers shed tiny pieces of plastic when they are washed? These fibers leach into the environment through our sewage systems and contribute to the ocean's plastic pollution problem. Two tips to prevent this: wash only when necessary, and put synthetic laundry in a Guppyfriend Washing Bag which will filter out the microplastics.
Written by Jessica Teeuw