What is the most immediate way to reduce your ecological footprint? Your wardrobe.
When it comes to the future, we no longer envision a utopia of flying cars and cyborgs. We hope for renewable energy sources and a clean ozone layer. Global warming is real and if we don’t start considering sustainable trends now, we’re not going to be here much longer.
But where do we start? I’m glad you asked.
Fashion: the most immediate way to impact global change, because everyone wears something. It’s also one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions.
Ever since humans existed, they wore clothes and accessories. Body paint, jewellery, headdresses, robes and loin cloths. The Egyptians believed that if you wore eyeliner you were dressed and protected for the day. Whether you’re part of a remote tribe in the jungle, Amish or guard the gates of hell—even Charon wears a cloak. Decorative or practical, fashion is an integral part of human history and always will be.
The average person throws away 81 lbs of used clothing a year–don’t be average.
However, the art of making clothing became so underappreciated that it resulted in a massive blow to our planet. Like factory farming, toxic dye run-off to mass usage of unsafe sweatshops, are not only damaging our environment but compromising our integrity. On average, a person will throw away 81 lbs of clothing a year. That’s 81 lbs of perfectly good fabric going to a landfill, where it can turn into toxic waste, depending on what kind of material it is.
We can get things so quickly and cheaply that we don’t stop to think whether we actually need what we are buying. I’ve been involved in the fashion industry for about four years now and every year I become more and more aware of what I’m wearing. No, I don’t mean who I’m wearing or what the actual garment is, I mean where did it come from? Who made it? How far did it travel? What kind of fabric is it? What did it cost, environmentally, to make what I wear? We all need to start taking responsibility so we can make more educated purchases. Making fabric requires a lot of water, chemicals, energy and many other resources we don’t really think about.
Fashion can support people. There are so many creators and designers out there, in Canada alone, who are making conscious clothing fashionable . Peggy Sue Collection, Reformation and Evan Biddell are just some of the designers who are jumping on the eco/sustainability bandwagon.
Your Impact Matters
The idea is to act locally and think globally; act with the bigger picture in mind. No, you are not expected to know about the childhood of your undies but a good start is knowing where they were made. Try to support your own economy; if it’s made locally that means it has travelled less, therefore emitting less greenhouse gases and the person who made it was paid properly. Learn to sew, so you can alter clothing you already have instead of buying new things. Frequent second hand or vintage stores—the older the clothing, the better the quality is. Yes, it takes patience and learning a new skill in some cases but, in the end you will be completely self sufficient and leave a far cleaner impact on the environment.