High Street Sales? Time to think about being a more conscious fashion consumer
A journey of a thousand miles must begin with one step. Lao Tzu
We are all tempted to buy more than we need when the sales hit the High Street, so if you are trying to be a more conscious fashion consumer and you feel overwhelmed by the task, here is our advice to help you:
1. "Less is more" mindset
As Sara Crampton says in her blog Harper and Harley being fashionable and minimalist is about the art of subtle details! If you want to become the poster girl for elevated minimalism check out Sara's blog for timeless wardrobe essentials inspiration.
2. Quality and durability over quantity
It is tempting to buy a T-shirt for £3.99, but ask yourself: How is it going to look after 10 washes? Are the people that made it fairly paid? It is definitely easier to begin by looking at those items that are a staple in your wardrobe - to mention a few that are in my closet: white skirts, black and white T-shirts, black skinny jeans, a black skirt. As these probably represent a considerable part of what you wear daily, it is certainly a good starting point for you to apply this approach. Keeping your clothes as long as you can is an easy way to dramatically reduce your environmental impact. Recent research by WRAP suggests that by extending the average life of clothes by just three months of active use per item would lead to a 5-10% reduction in each of the carbon, water and waste footprints.
3. Wash responsibly and hang out to dry
Up to two-thirds of clothes’ carbon footprint occurs after you take them home. We do not aware that we use a significant amount of water and energy to wash and dry our clothes. A life cycle assessment (LCA) of a pair of Levi’s® 501® jeans, showed that that 37 percent of the energy and 23 percent of the water used during the lifetime of a pair of Levi’s® 501® jeans occurs during the consumer-use phase. According to Procter & Gamble the average washing load uses 20-30 litres of water per kg of dry clothing and the average household washes 6 -7 loads per week. This would equate to 175 litres of water per week per household or 9,100 litres per year, which is equivalent to the recommended daily water intake for more than 4500 people. Washing less frequently is therefore highly recommended.
4. Look for more sustainable materials
The assessment any garment’s environmental footprint is complex as it is done assessing each step of its life from cradle to grave (what is called Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)). Cotton, that may at first glance appear to be a more sustainable choice than oil based materials such as polyester, is actually a material with a very high environmental footprint because of the amount of water and agrochemicals (especially pesticides) used for its production. The easiest way to shop more sustainable clothes is therefore to look for anything that is made with either organic or recycled yarn and that brings a certification such as Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), OEKO-TEX® Standard 100, Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), Cotton Made in Africa, FAIRTRADE and Cradle to Cradle®.
5. Recycle or donate
One third of clothes across the UK end up in the bin according to Hubbub, a UK based charity that creates environmental campaigns that inspire people to make healthier, greener lifestyle choices. If you have clothes you are not using anymore consider passing them to a friend or relative or donate them to a charity. Brands such as H&M, Levi's and M&S have collection points in their stores and charities such as Oxfam or TRAID accept items in good conditios to be sold in their stores. Even clothes too worn to wear can be recycled. It can be done either via clothing banks such as Recycle Now or by turning them into cleaning cloths or use them for arts & crafts with your kids. Finally, if you are really creative you can look for upcycling videos on-line and restyle old clothes.
To learn about the life cycle of a cotton T-shirt, watch the video: https://youtu.be/BiSYoeqb_VY
To learn about which brands have pledged to achieve sustainable cotton by 2025, take a look at:
For other tips on how to go green: https://vmagazine.com/article/going-green-sustainable-fashion-consumer/