The fashion world has a lot of faces, and the sad truth is that many of them aren’t so pretty. In fact, for someone just learning about fashion production from a sustainable viewpoint for the first time, the ways in which the industry has negatively impacted the environment and human rights can be really scary. The whole thing becomes even more daunting if we think about how we as individuals can do anything about it. To help make things a little easier, I won’t go into detail about everything wrong with the fashion industry all at once. Instead, I’m going to focus on one thing, the insane amount of trash the fashion industry produces. I’ll also suggest some easy ways that you can help minimize your individual contribution to this growing problem!
One of the major downsides to the world of fashion, and fashion production in particular, is the insane amount of waste and pollution it produces. Fashion is a leading world industry, so it really shouldn’t be surprising that it also leads the world in waste production. For a little perspective, clothing production on a global scale has more than doubled in the last two decades, but people definitely aren’t keeping their clothing any longer. If anything, we’re tossing more and more out as each season passes. In the United States, it is estimated that 10.5 million tons of clothing is sent to landfills every year and in 2016 alone, waste from the fashion industry supply chain was estimated at 800,000 tons.
So what can we as consumers do to make a difference? Well, to start, we can certainly shop less and shop smarter. This can be achieved by investing less in trends and building a wardrobe of quality, classic, staple pieces. Shopping recycled and vintage clothing from local retailers and online shops is another huge step we can take towards reducing fashion waste. Places like Buffalo Exchange and Crossroads are great if your city has them, and the online boutique PoshMark has everything, especially if you care about certain labels and current trends. Personally, I love hunting for “hole-in-the-wall” vintage boutiques; I find they have a better selection of high-quality items.
Another way to reduce “closet waste” is by taking care of what you own already and ensuring everything in your wardrobe has a good life before it is finally donated. This means reading care labels, dry-cleaning when necessary, and generally treating your clothes with love and respect. Shopping in a way that compliments what you have already is another way to shop smart. Its easy to build a classic and versatile “capsule” wardrobe, and doing so will vastly reduce the amount of clothes you toss out and the amount of money you spend on new clothing, too. Inspiration and direction for building capsule wardrobes are both really easy to come by these days-I’m sure your favorite bloggers are already sharing theirs. I’ll include some of my own right here !
What steps are you taking to minimize the eco-footprint of your closet ?