Did you know that the fashion and textiles industry is one of the most wasteful and polluting globally? Not only contributing to overflowing landfills with billions of tonnes of waste, but also to 10% of global CO2 emissions – that’s more than the emissions produced by international flights and maritime shipping combined. It is estimated that the average person buys 60% more than they did 15 years ago, which is the overwhelming driver for cheaper, faster fashion production.
As a producer of responsible, vegan handbags, LOM Australia is constantly questioning our materials, processes, shipping, and the way we market our products. We often ask ourselves if the theory of sustainable fashion is an oxymoron. How can something that is ephemeral be sustainable? Whether we like it or not the fashion items we own will end up as landfill or in the ocean at some stage. So, how do we ensure that our fashion purchases are as sustainable as possible?
We hate to be retail therapy killers, but we all need to rethink the way we shop and interact with fashion entirely. Here are five Rs we like to keep in mind to help us do so.
The most important R on the list is to reduce or buy less. Instead of making many cheap, fast fashion purchases, spend more on quality. By investing in ethical, responsible fashion choices, we are reducing the amount we consume with pieces that will transcend seasons and last a lifetime.
When you do shop for clothes and accessories, do your research to understand their origin, what they’re made from, and how long they’ll last.
The most sustainable fashion is already in your wardrobe, so refuse the impulse to shop for the sake of shopping. Ask yourself if you really need it. If the answer is no, then refuse to buy it. If the answer is yes, then consider a second hand or rented option. And of course, wherever possible, refuse wrapping and packaging to minimise waste.
A great way to reduce fashion waste is to reuse it. Wear things until the end of their life, and once they’re thread bare, recycle them, or use the unwearable items as rags. Learn how to wash and care for your clothes for longevity. Shop at second hand or vintage clothing stores and opp shops. Borrow, swap and lend clothes with friends and family or rent, repurpose and repair your clothes. Keep them out of landfill at all costs.
The longer we can extend the use of our wearable garments, the more we reduce our environmental impact. Sometimes a simple home DIY or trip to the tailor is all it takes to resurrect a perfectly good pair of shoes or item of clothing.
Look at every piece you own through a lens of the amount of energy that went into creating it, and how you can maximise its use. Never throw things away, there is always an alternative to landfill.
You may have ‘worn them to death’, but your clothes and accessories still have value. Before you discard of them, look at the options for donating or recycling them. Many second-hand stores and opportunity shops will accept decent quality, wearable donations. If your clothes are no longer fit for purpose, there are incredible organisations like Upparel who will collect your items for a small fee and recycle them.
A few more Rs to consider include:
RENT for events and special occasions.
REPURPOSE look at your wardrobe in a different light, mix and match items you have never paired before.
RESEARCH all the brands, all the things.