As a conscious consumer, you can easily make a positive impact on people, animals, and the planet by helping to reduce clothing waste. Through some easy changes, it's possible to limit how much rubbish goes out into the world and protect the environment.
Discarded clothing and other textile waste have a disastrous impact on ecosystems and human health. We are on the verge of a global social and environmental crisis.
It's now, more than ever, crucial to adopt a low impact lifestyle since all kinds of waste are piling up in landfills at an alarming rate. Thankfully, the following tips can help you contribute to a more sustainable future for the planet.
The fashion industry has catastrophic social and environmental impacts. It's time to rethink how we produce and consume clothes to prevent irreversible damage to the human environment.
Reducing clothing waste generated by garment manufacturing and distribution is necessary to make fashion more sustainable. Start a low impact lifestyle today to protect the planet and save money at the same time.
To make a difference globally as a well-informed consumer, here are proven and easy ways to reduce clothing waste you need to know.
1. Buy fewer clothes
One of the best ways to reduce clothing waste is to buy fewer clothes overall. Limit your fashion consumption in the first place to cause less damage to the environment.
It's a more mindful approach to shopping and consuming in general. Think twice about what you buy and move away from excessive consumerism.
The most sustainable garment is the one you already own. Buying more consciously saves you money and protects the environment. Choose only the staples and essentials of your wardrobe.
You can even try out a minimalist lifestyle to save money and to do good for the planet. Shop for what you miss only when necessary., keep things simple, and go back to the basics.
2. Shop for high-quality clothing
High-quality clothes can cost more upfront but save you money in the long run. Be more conscious about sustainable, environmentally friendly, and socially responsible fashion by buying better clothing.
Quality garments are more durable and last a long time. They also make you feel more comfortable and confident, improve your fashion style, and help you look your best.
Choose timeless and versatile fashion pieces over cheap and disposable garments. Preferably, look for eco-friendly materials and purchase from sustainable brands with a good track record that emphasizes responsible production.
Wear natural fabrics, such as sustainable cotton, linen, hemp, ramie, and jute. They have a much lower environmental impact, are biodegradable and compostable.
Shopping responsibly and buying better are great solutions to reduce clothing waste. It seems like a simple idea, but it makes such a huge difference.
3. Purchase secondhand fashion
Head to your local thrift store or resale shop to buy pre-loved clothes. Thrifting helps sustainable fashion tremendously. It reduces the amount of clothing waste that goes out into the world.
Buying used clothes, home decor, appliances, and furniture not only saves money but also promotes a more circular and regenerative economy. You can reduce your footprint by half when you support local businesses involved in clothing collection, sorting, and distribution.
You can also find sustainable, affordable, and unique secondhand clothes that nobody else is wearing on online resale platforms and marketplaces.
Buying secondhand clothes offer many advantages such as saving time and money, a large variety of unique styles, the thrill of the hunt, reliving old trends, and supporting ethical businesses.
4. Rent a few clothing pieces
Fashion rental is another easy way to reduce clothing waste. It's an emerging and fast-growing market. More and more people resort to renting clothes for special occasions or renewing their wardrobe.
Clothing rental often is a better option, especially during pregnancy or for parties. Some fashion rental companies even offer a subscription for customers wanting to refresh their clothes more regularly.
This practice has become very popular recently. By renting, you have access to unique pieces that you can swap frequently. Lots of options are available to suit each sustainable fashion lover's needs.
Rental businesses and fashion libraries are opening up all over North America and Europe. Many designers partner with rental companies to offer consumers the possibility to wear their clothes for a fraction of the price.
5. Swap clothes with friends and family
Help reduce fashion waste by organizing a clothing swap with your friends and family. You can easily set up a pop-up store at your house and invite your friends over this weekend.
Clothes swapping is becoming very popular. It's a fun way to renew your wardrobe and share some of your favorite pieces with your loved ones. You also preserve the environment at the same time.
Refresh your closet with new looks and avoid putting the clothes you don't wear in the trash by swapping. Search for clothing swap groups in your area on Meetup if you don’t have any friends in your size to trade clothes with.
6. Take good care of your garments
Take better care of the clothes you already own to ensure that they last longer. Whenever possible, repair and reuse your old garments instead of buying new ones.
Try to repair your clothing and shoes before getting rid of them. It's an easy way to reduce clothing waste. And it saves you money, helps your budget, and lowers fashion's impact on the environment, ecosystems, and the planet.
Try fixing broken buckles, holes, loose threads, missing buttons, and snagging zippers. Many people don't bother repairing because they are accustomed to fast fashion, cheap, disposable clothing.
You can easily learn how to sew and repair your used garments. Instead of buying a new replacement immediately, try to fix things first.
Take better care of the clothes you have to make a huge difference in building a more sustainable future. If you can't repair yourself, find local tailors and cobblers and develop good relationships with them.
7. Donate your used clothes
Think about donating your old clothes instead of throwing them away. You contribute to saving the planet and helping people with clothes they may need more than you do.
You can do a quick online search for your local options to donate clothes that are still in good condition. Be sure to contact several organizations first and ask them what type of clothes they accept.
You can donate clothing to for-profit companies that sell your clothing contributions and donate a portion of their profits to charitable causes.
Or donate to homeless and women's shelters, family service agencies, immigrant support groups, and churches. Blankets, towels, and linens can go to animal shelters in your local area.
8. Sell your unwanted fashion items
You can also sell your old clothes to reduce clothing waste, protect the environment, earn money, and make someone else happy. There are plenty of great places to sell pre-loved clothing.
You can use online resale shops or brick-and-mortar locations. Or you could host a yard sale. You usually get paid once your clothes have been sold.
If you sell your old pieces of clothing, you earn more money than donating them. But it's generally more time-consuming, and you will need some experience and know-how to set up great listings.
9. Upcycle your old clothes
Upcycling your used garments is an easy way to reduce fashion waste. Repurpose your old clothes into new pieces that are more useful and valuable.
You can easily slice and stitch pre-loved clothing at home without extra machinery. Reusing, repurposing, and upcycling old clothes create value. It's a more sustainable approach to fashion.
Upcycling is very beneficial to the planet and your budget. You can even create stylish and unique pieces of clothing by upcycling. If you take the time to practice cutting and sewing, you can create something truly extraordinary.
Instead of throwing old clothes away, use parts of or entire old garments to make something new and more valuable without breaking it down completely.
10. Recycle clothing waste
Recycling old clothes and shoes is a great way to reduce fashion waste. The average American throws away 70 pounds of clothing every year. And more than USD 500 billion is lost due to a lack of reuse and recycling each year.
Less than 1% of all textile waste is recycled into new garments globally. You can help solve the textile waste problem by discarding your used clothes responsibly.
When your used clothes cannot be sold or donated, you can recycle them. To do so, join textile recycling programs from towns, councils, cities, fashion brands, and retailers that collect and recycle clothing.
Or you can drop off your clothes at organizations that have direct relationships with textile recyclers.
Recycling clothing is one of the best things you can do as a conscious consumer. It's one of the most crucial steps toward sustainable living.
About the Author: 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 three languages and holds two Master of Science degrees in Engineering from SIGMA and IFPEN schools.