How do we prolong the life of a garment once it’s been purchased? How can we avoid adding to landfill completely? Designers and distributors both have responsibilities to respect the earth, but let’s talk about the buyer’s duties to divert their clothing away from landfill. Let’s face it, when we buy something we really love, we want to look after it. And garments look so much better on humans than they do in landfill. When purchasing some form of new get-up, think about its ‘lifecycle’. Incidentally it’s called ‘lifecycle thinking’.
The production phase starts at the fibre (or cradle), moves on to the textile production, and then to design and manufacturing. It reaches the distribution and retail phase before being purchased. It then undergoes the ‘use phase’. Mostly, after this phase it is tragically sent to either landfill (the grave) or to be incinerated (cremated). Call it dire, but that’s exactly what it is. So much of ‘fast fashion’ is made from polyester, which is essentially plastic, so a lot of what is clogging landfill will take up to 200 years to break down. Instead it is burned, creating fumes that your lungs nor the planet should ever breathe in.
The list is long for social and environmental impacts of the disposal phase of fashion, so we’ve come up with some ideas that benefit humans and the environment. ‘Lifecycle thinking’ can help you to prolong the life of a garment or divert it away from the far-too-well-stocked landfill sites.
- Take a moment to slow down and repair or alter that piece you love
- Be mindful of care instructions when laundering. No one likes a long instruction manual, but luckily a tag on a fashion item is about a sixteenth of the size, containing bold instructions
- Purchase clothing designed for ‘closed-loop systems’, which allows the opportunity to reuse the materials of a product that has come to the end of its useful life
- Buy attire made from organic natural fibres
- Hand down your pre-loved, story-rich piece to another human. Buying timeless is helpful for this
- If you don’t love it, then leave it alone. Purchase things that you know you’ll want for a long time. Your wallet and the earth don’t like temporary fixes brought by fast fashion.
More and more consumers are becoming aware that fast fashion is unethical and leads to excessively clogged landfill sites. There is no such thing as throwing ‘away’. ‘Away’ doesn't exist on our planet. For consumers shifting to ethically and sustainably made fashion, purchasing from Ethi promotes a long lifespan for garments made ethically thanks to the transparency of our ‘EMPATHY’ values.
Written by Sheridan Butler