Waste Reduction Week: textiles

It’s kind of funny how we go along our day to day without questioning much about the world around us, until suddenly we are hit with some information that should have been blindly obvious to us, yet we have been conditioned to ignore. This was that for me with the fashion industry, namely, the FAST fashion industry. Enter textile waste. It’s horrendous. Not just the millions of tonnes of textile waste we send to the landfill every year, but the spraying of cotton fields, polluted waterways, waste water, energy used, and the microfibers we send into the water system any time we do a load. Like I said – horrendous, like the conditions that the garment workers face on a daily basis. And somehow we tolerate that.

There is a reason I wrote an article for Kootenay Living magazine entitled: Sustainable Fashion in the Kootenays.  A few years ago I watched the True Cost documentary, and while I thought I knew a lot about the “fast fashion” world, it gave a deeper insight into this dirty industry.  I began rethinking fashion, analyzing my wardrobe, and thinking of how I could change my impact.  I was further inspired when I participated in an Instagram challenge called #spring10x10 by practicing making my clothes go further.

These are things I have tried/changed to reduce my impact:

  1. I analyzed my entire wardrobe; kept only what I wore often, and re-homed the rest by giving away to friends, clothing swaps, giving to a women’s resource center, or selling on local Buy & Swap pages.
  2. I got rid of pieces I kept for sentimental reasons.  Not saying I would ever get rid of my grandfather’s wool jacket, but I changed my relationship with clothes, so someone else could make use of them.
  3. My new “style” would be versatility in sustainability.
  4. I buy what I need, and try my best to avoid impulse buys.
  5. I research what I need.  There is always a more sustainable alternative and it is my responsibility to find it. 
  6. I buy local whenever possible.  I try to find clothing that was made as close to me, geographically, as possible.  That way I am supporting small business and our local economy, and know that the item has not traveled far to get to me, reducing emissions and transportation resources.
  7. I buy from companies that share my values.  The textile industry is anything but transparent, so when local companies share their practices, they are more likely to become someone I would support.
  8. I stick to my values in fashion: sustainability and ethics.
  9. I find ways to mend pieces to extend their life. If it surpasses my skill, I ask someone else.
  10. I buy used clothing, and borrow clothing for my kids.  The resources already went into those garments, and much of it is thrown away (due to us often overloading thrift, and charity stores with our impulse buys).

Clothing!  We need it!  And we can make it more sustainable.  I’d like to also mention that in order for our clothing to go further, to be more versatile and timeless, we must care for it properly. Please see my post on reducing laundry waste for that topic!

How does your wardrobe reflect your values? How do you avoid textile waste? Are you part of the fashion revolution? What transparent companies have you found? How many new clothes do you buy every year?



“True Cost” documentary (2015)




One comment

  1. Love this! It is so important to remember to only buy what you need, instead of buying new clothes all the time (even if they are secondhand). I haven’t bought new clothes in months, and it doesn’t bother me at all! 🙂
    Jenna ♥
    Stay in touch? Life of an Earth Muffin


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