My Cart

Close
Social and Environmental Benefits of Upcycling Clothing

Social and Environmental Benefits of Upcycling Clothing


Upcycling is a growing business. Particularly in fashion, brands, designers, and consumers are now expressing a regained interest for upcycled clothing. It has many social and environmental benefits.

The process of upcycling means transforming used items into something new and more valuable. It offers old garments a new life, extends the time they are being used, instead of letting them go to waste.

Read up my article on what does upcycled clothing mean to find out more about this practice in the textile and apparel industry.

The green movement is booming in the clothing industry. Conscious consumers are asking for more eco-friendly products. Upcycling is part of the sustainable fashion movement that looks for solutions to the social and environmental issues within the industry.

The rise of fast fashion over the last 20 years lead to the overproduction and overconsumption of cheaply made clothing. The apparel and footwear industry is now the second-largest polluter globally.

It's responsible for huge amounts of pollution, waste, and carbon emissions. The way we produce and consume clothes today has negative consequences on the planet, the people, and the animals living on it.

With upcycling, it's possible to minimize the impact of fashion on the environment. It's a great way to be more sustainable with clothes and even better than recycling.

Check out my comparison between upcycling and recycling to understand the many differences between them.

Here are 6 social and environmental benefits of upcycling clothing.


1. Less energy consumption

Upcycling has a positive impact on the environment. It requires much less energy than recycling. It saves natural resources and reduces greenhouse gas emissions in the process.

Slicing and stitching old clothes and other textiles to create new clothing is more manageable than breaking down old garments entirely. It's a lot more efficient and responsible.

Instead of throwing old clothes away, we can create items of higher quality and utility by upcycling. It's possible to start upcycling right at home without extra machinery using Do-It-Yourself (DIY) techniques.

floral dress


2. Reducing textile waste

Globally, about 80% of all clothes end up in landfills to decompose or be incinerated. Americans alone generate 16.9 million tons of used textile waste each year.

The practice of upcycling is very beneficial to the planet as a whole. By adding value to waste materials, it saves large amounts of resources and prevents more waste creation.

It gives old textiles an extended life when their value would have been very low otherwise. Instead of letting clothing waste piling up in landfills, upcycling uses it to creates new pieces.


white blouse


3. Preventing pollution

Reusing and repurposing old clothes is the way forward. It helps the second-hand clothing market grow, independently from the main market. Overall, upcycling reduces the demand for new clothing production.

Garment manufacturing has a negative environmental impact. It creates a lot of pollution due to toxic chemicals used in pesticides and fertilizers for farming raw materials such as cotton.

The washing, bleaching, dyeing, and treatment of textiles used in clothing production are chemical-intensive processes. They pollute the air, soil, and water when released untreated into the nearby environment.

 


4. Creativity boost

"Upcycle means to process used goods or waste materials to produce something that is often better than the original. For example, recycling a worn t-shirt could mean you use them as dust rags. An upcycled garment is typically one of a kind. This requires a considerable amount of creativity and vision in addition to environmental consciousness."

 - Judi Townsend, Mannequin Madness owner


Upcycling clothing is repurposing old items into new pieces that beautiful, stylish, and unique. It takes used clothes in our closet to create something extraordinary.

Instead of creating multiple garments with the same pattern in various sizes and colors, fashion designers that upcycle often produce items that are very different.

traditional colorful dresses pin


5. Local community support

We are on the brink of a global human and environmental crisis. Reducing the impact of our wardrobe is a priority. It requires better sourcing, manufacturing, distribution, and waste management, as well as supporting local communities.

Upcycling is a superb strategy to be more efficient with the clothes we buy and wear, just like a few decades ago. Fashion used to be slow and local before the industrial revolution. Upcycling was very common to preserve old textiles.

It's a great idea to upcycle today to participate in the local economy. Shop for upcycled clothing at town markets, fashion fairs, shows, auctions, local sales, flea markets, and farmer's markets. Upcycling also supports local businesses involved in the collection, sorting, and distribution of old items.

market local



6. Encouraging sustainable practices

"In a world still churning out trendy throw-away fashion pieces at breakneck speed, the idea of upcycled or refashioned apparel can be an anomaly. But it is a continuously growing trend and is one of the most sustainable things people can do in fashion. As upcycling makes use of already existing pieces, it often uses few resources in its creation and keeps ‘unwanted’ items out of the waste stream."

 - Beth Stewart, co-founder and Executive Director at Redress


Instead of supporting the throwaway culture, upcycling encourages buyers to purchase fewer clothes and higher quality. It's one of the best ways to be more sustainable with clothes.

Upcycling raises awareness around the social and environmental issues within the apparel industry. It promotes ethical fashion and a more conscious approach to consuming clothing.

Do you buy upcycled clothing or upcycle yourself at home? I would love to learn about your experience with upcycling. Let me know in the comment section below.

 

About the Author: Alex Assoune

Alex Assoune Alex Assoune (MS) is a global health and environmental advocate. He founded Panaprium to inspire others with conscious living, ethical, and sustainable fashion. Alex has worked in many countries to address social and environmental issues. He speaks four languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.


Share


More, More, More


Related Articles

barbara meier

Barbara Meier Ambassador for Fair Fashion

Barbara Meier is a famous German fashion model, actress, author, and ambassador for fair fashion. She rose in the public eye by winning the second season of Germany's Next Topmodel... Read More

Upcycled Clothing: a Vector for Creativity Among Fashion Students

Students from fashion schools around the world learn about the importance of sustainability in the textile and apparel industry. Upcycling clothes is one of the best ways to boost their... Read More
fashion student
sports bra

New Higg Brand And Retail Module for More Sustainability

Sustainability is more important than ever before for the fashion industry as a whole. Brands and retailers have a key role to play to transform the current wasteful and polluting... Read More

Sustainability Still Going Strong During The Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has a huge negative impact on the economy, jobs, and livelihood of many people around the world. The coronavirus creates an unprecedented worldwide crisis that puts the... Read More
sustainable energy
weight loss clothes

Getting Rid of Clothes After Weight Loss

Our body weight fluctuates over time and old clothes might not fit anymore. It's a very common problem to have clothes that are too big or too small, especially after... Read More

How to Choose The Best Clothing Fabric For You

What is the best fabric type for your clothing? There are so many choices and qualities to consider to find the perfect fit for your figure, fashion taste, and lifestyle.... Read More
woman sweater
What Happens to Clothes When You Return Them

What Happens to Clothes When You Return Them

It's now faster, easier, and cheaper than ever before to buy and return clothes. With the rise of fast fashion and online commerce over the last 20 years, many apparel... Read More

The Nu Wardrobe Affordable Clothes Sharing App

Meet The Nu Wardrobe (Nuw), affordable clothes sharing app and community founded in Dublin Ireland, that aims to enjoy fashion while reducing waste. Clothes swapping has become a very popular... Read More
the nu wardrobe
cotton women model

Is Rayon Better Than Cotton

Cotton is one of the most widely used fibers for textiles around the world. It makes strong, soft, breathable, and natural fabrics for clothing but it also harms the environment.... Read More

Drapers Sustainable Fashion Awards 2020

Drapers revealed its shortlist for its 2020 Sustainable Fashion Awards that recognize the progress being made to decrease the fashion industry's social and environmental impact. Due to the growing public... Read More
mannequin

0 comments

Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing