Roomful of clothes but nothing to wear? You’re hardly alone. The average household owns an average of R 40 000 worth of clothes, 30 percent of which languishes unworn, according to the Waste & Resources Action Programme. A third of the clothing we buy every year ends up in the landfill, sometimes after just one use. And let’s not forget all the shoes we never wear. With mindless consumerism hitting its peak due to things like fast fashion, it’s time for a new consumer revolution, one characterized less by impulse buys and more by thoughtful purchases. “The fashion industry would have us believe that overconsumption is something to be proud of, marking our success one haul at a time,” Greenpeace says in its latest campaign. “But putting aside barely worn clothing and bringing home bags of new outfits fuels a toxic supply chain and stuffs landfills with impulse buys.”
But we can change the fashion industry, the environmental group adds, simply by changing the way we look at our clothing.
Here are five ways how:
1. REPAIR, NOT REPLACE
A little wear and tear doesn’t mean your clothes are destined for the trash bin, pull out the needle and thread before you schedule a shopping spree. Announce to the world: #ImKeepingThis!
2. FIGHT FAST FASHION
The disposable fashion business model only speeds up the pollution of our planet and the abuse of garment workers. Choose quality over quantity by buying fewer items that are made to last.
3. EXTEND LIFE (RESELL)
We get it; you can get bored of wearing the same old outfits. Why not resell clothing with peers to give your old favorites a new life? You can also buy lightly worn secondhand items to extend their useful lives.
4. DEMAND BETTER, NOT MORE
Reach out to your favorite brands and find out what they are doing to improve the sustainability and ethics of their clothing. Let them know you want better clothes, not more clothes.
5. SUPPORT BRAND REVOLUTIONARIES
Find out which brands have pledged to eliminate hazardous chemicals from their supply chains through Greenpeace’s “Detox” initiative. “Show your support through future purchases, social media kudos, and spreading the word to friends and family,” the group adds.