How to have an eco-friendly wardrobe | A Hint of Rose: How to have an eco-friendly wardrobe

9.3.16

How to have an eco-friendly wardrobe

Minimalism and sustainable development | How to have an eco-friendly wardrobe | A Hint of Rose Minimalism and sustainable development | How to have an eco-friendly wardrobe | A Hint of Rose

Today's discussion is really important to me because I've been a compulsive buyer for a long time! Yes, not so long ago, I was buying things without realizing it, and without worrying about the impact of my purchases, both on the environment and on humans in general, but now I've changed. Now when I use my wallet, either to buy clothes or makeup or even kitchen stuff, I ask myself some serious questions.

I don't know if you remember, but in April 23 of 2013, the Rana Plaza, a clothes factory in Bangladesh collapsed, causing hundreds of deaths and injured people. It is the deadliest garment-factory accident in history, and it made the world realize the true cost of our clothes. The fashion industry is facing a lot of pressures these days, we always want new clothes, new collections, new trends and we want them cheaper. When we buy a dress in a store like H&M or Primark, with new collections every month, we accept and encourage those pressures. Despite ourselves, we accept and encourage the fact that children have to work in horrible conditions with ridiculous wages instead of going to school and playing outside, we accept that people are dying every day because they have to spend 12 hours a day breathing toxic dyes and chemicals without any protections, we accept that children born with diseases and malformations because their mothers had to work in the cotton industry, one of the biggest consumers of pesticides, in order to put a bit of food on the table. Because, even if on April 24, 2013, the horror of clothing factories was unveiled, very few manufacturers have changed their policies and work ethic. Now it's up to us, through our consumption power, to show the industry what our values are.

As I mentioned in my introduction to minimalism post,
What I want is not to not consume anymore, but it's to consume better. 
I want to consume more ethically.
I want to consume higher quality products. 
I want to consume more sustainably. 
I want to be clever about what I buy. 
I want to ask myself, "Do I really need that?", "Does this object bring me joy?"
I want to use my money to create memories.
What I don't want is that my own consumption harm the health or the happiness of others. 
Finally, I want to show the right example to my future children. 

These criteria can be applied to any purchase, but as you might expect, today we will focus on clothing.

1. REDUCE YOUR CONSUMPTION

I recently read a very interesting post on the website Echosverts, in which I discovered that:
- 2650 litres of water and 150 kg of pesticides are used to produce a cotton T-shirt;
- 6800 litres of water are needed to create one pair of jeans;
- highly toxic products are used to dye our clothes, and we wear them on our bare skin;
- synthetic fibres in clothing take up to 400 years to biodegrade!
I could find plenty of these horrific statistics, but honestly that's enough for me to understand that the clothing industry in incredibly polluting, damages our environment, but also harms the health of people who make our clothes, and our own health.

But what can we do to change that? Well, if you want to consume better, you'll have to start by consuming less. Do we really need 10 white T-shirts in our wardrobe? Perhaps 1 or 2 would be enough. It will save us money and it will reduce the amount of resources used to make our clothes (natural resources, but also pesticides and other chemicals). So when you decide to consume less, you decide to not encourage the pace of clothes production, and you say no to the huge waste generated by this industry.

2. TAKE CARE OF WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE

You would be surprised to know that yes the production phase of clothes has a huge environmental impact, but also that our clothes continue to have a negative impact on the environment once they are in our closet! In fact, washing, drying, ironing, etc require a lot of natural resources, but it's relatively easy to reduce this impact with wiser choices.
First, do not over wash your clothes, it will save you a large amount of water, a large amount of laundry product, and also will extend the life of your clothes. Instead, let them air dry and brush them to remove any hair or dust.
Another way to reduce the amount of resources used during the life of your clothes is to lower the temperature of your laundry machine. Obviously, if your clothes are really dirty, wash them with hot water, but for the rest, you can easily use cold water.
Dry cleaning is a process that uses a lot of toxic and pollutant chemicals, so try to avoid dry cleaning.
Finally, another great way to reduce the amount of natural resources used is to simply air dry your clothes as much as possible.

3. PREFER QUALITY OVER QUANTITY

As I mentioned earlier, buying a good quality T-Shirt will be cheaper in the long term than buying several bad quality T-shirts. Moreover, when we invest a little more money on an item, we pay more attention to its cut, its colour, we check if it will go with clothes we already own, etc. It's the complete opposite of impulse buying! Which is perfect, because we want it to be durable, so we make sure that we are not buying it just because it's on sale or in trend.
The quality of a garment refers to a lot of things. It refers to its cut, the way it's sewn, the material used, but also if it's certified organic, fair trade or animal-friendly, or if it's produced locally or in a traditional way. It's often difficult to fit a garment in all those categories, but it's up to you to choose what are your priorities according to your own values.

If you are interested, I can do a whole video on buying more ethical and sustainable clothes, so let me know in the comments section below.

4. VALUE THE SECOND LIFE

Valuing the second life of clothes can be in both directions. In the first hand, we ensure that everything that can be reused is given, sold or exchanged. And in the other hand, it means that we can choose to buy second-hand clothes as much as possible. This will not only make you save money, because second-hand clothes are always much cheaper, also the quality of the clothes is much better, it avoids the use of new natural resources, and finally it prevents a T-shirt still in good condition to go into the landfill.

So, there were my 4 tips for a more sustainable wardrobe. Keep in mind that we will not change the world of garment industry in one day, but our actions, through our wallets, will show manufacturers what are our values and our needs. So follow the movement and together, we will change the world one T-Shirt at a time!

 If you also have any tips to make the transition to a more ethical and minimalist wardrobe, please share them in the comments below!

Marjorie

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