Why you should rethink your next fashion purchase

Why you should rethink your next fashion purchase

The clothing sector produces between 2 and 8 per cent of global carbon emissions, while textile dyeing is a major polluter of water. Fast fashion – where clothes move from idea to design to the mass market as quickly as possible – plays a huge role in this. The average person is buying 60 per cent more clothing than 15 years ago, while each item is kept for only half as long.

We recently spoke with Garrette Clark, a sustainability expert with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), about how you can be on-trend while having a lighter impact on the planet. Here are some ideas.

Think about your purchases

Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is dumped in a landfill or burned. Many of those clothes are impulse buys and some hardly worn. “Unnecessary consumption is driving the problem,” says Clark. “Rather than impulsively buying a pair of boots, ask yourself: what do you really need, and do you want to follow trends or set them? From there, think of the least impactful way to design your look.”

Consider second-hand clothes

It takes thousands of gallons of water to make a single pair of jeans, one of the many reasons Clark says you should look into second-hand apparel. It takes time and effort but try to tune out the fashion marketing machine that is constantly pushing new designs. Clark urges people to celebrate “their uniqueness by designing  a wardrobe based on pieces that are vintage, handmade, and  swapped.” Have fun seeking out new treasures, she says.

Buy better quality apparel

While cheap clothes may seem like a better value, and for many are the only option, they also contribute to our environmentally harmful disposable economy, Clark says. Lower quality apparel is often quickly thrown out and may not be worn at all. If you can afford it, she recommends buying good quality, long-lasting clothes and taking care of them. That will be better for the environment and the people who made them, and, in the long run, be easier on your wallet.

Give your clothes a second life

When your clothes are getting worn, Clark suggests repairing or upcycling them. If you are finished with a piece of clothing, swap it, give it to a friend, or donate it. With the fashion industry poised to use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050, giving clothes a second life can help counter climate change.