When it comes to clothes waste, the world is in big trouble.
In the UK, 350,000 tonnes (the equivalent of £140 million’s worth) of clothes are thrown away each year, with 60% of households saying they have unwanted items in their homes. Once clothes end up in landfill they take 200 years to decompose, emitting huge amounts of the greenhouse gas methane as they do so.
But how can we avoid this wasteful habit of throwing clothes in the bin?
One way is to fall back in love with your old items. For February GoEco is encouraging you to have a conscious clear out of your closet and explore a few new ways to uplift your garments.
We know it’s tempting to go out and buy something new, but we also know you all care about the planet. So sit back and read some of our tips to breathe some slow fashion life into your wardrobe.
1 – Conduct an Audit
Here we do not mean gather up your unwanted items and throw them away – far from it! Instead we want you to get all your beloved (and not so beloved) clothes out of your wardrobe and separate them into ones you wear and ones you don’t.
Anything that you truly don’t want and is in good condition you can donate to charity, offer to a friend (number 3 works well here), or try your luck reselling on eBay or Depop. Meanwhile, separate those things which are damaged into ‘beyond repair’ (we bet this won’t be that many) and fixable. If something is worn but not actually broken then save for number four.
Damaged beyond repair can go to a recycling centre; do NOT put reusable fabric in the bin. Repairable items are where the fun begins…
2 – Mend Those Threads
We know that mending clothes can be daunting. If you have no sewing experience you might not know where to start, but fear not, you don’t even need a sewing machine.
For something simple like mending a hem or darning a hole in a t-shirt, just check out one of the many, many Youtube tutorials before nipping to your local fabric or craft store to buy supplies. Anyone can easily mend items made from cotton by hand – especially socks! Learning how to darn your holey socks is a great life hack and something you can easily do while watching TV or listening to music.
For toughers items – coats, jeans or other clothes made from heavier fabrics – you will probably need to go to a tailor. The good news is that clothing repairs are actually much easier to find than most people believe and could even be cheaper than buying a new garment. Search local high streets for repair shops, or ask around (either your friends or on a local Facebook group) to find either a shop or a freelancer who does repairs on the side.
3 – Consider a Clothes Swap
Remember that time your friend wore that gorgeous cosy knitted jumper? Or those trainers he/she had on at the park that were to die for? One person’s unwanted item is almost always someone else’s hidden treasure, and clothes swaps can be a fantastic and fun way of refreshing yours and your friends wardrobes without spending a penny, plus doing your bit for the planet by not buying new. What’s not to love!?
Gather your pals (perhaps grab a takeaway or a bottle of wine to boot) and spend an evening checking out each others pieces and parading your new looks. We would advise setting a few ground rules – e.g. a maximum number of items to bring, and what will be done with any leftovers (hint: recycle or donate). Clothes swaps can be done in a couple of ways too; short-term swaps could be great instigator of regular catch ups to change pieces over, or you may decide to only bring those items you’ll never wear again. Either way, its a fun and eco-friendly way of updating your look; let the fashion show commence…
4 – Get Creative
Gather up worn clothes, or anything you’re just a bit bored with, and start thinking of ways to improve them. It might be pairing them with other items you haven’t tried before, in this case creating monoclo outfits is a great way of creating new pairings by wearing all one colour.
Also think about decorating your old clothes to make them look fresher. Try dyeing them a new colour or painting a design on them, turn a ragged pair of jeans into shorts or buy/borrow a hot glue gun and decorate a tired-looking denim jacket. Bonus bit; you’re creating an entirely unique piece of clothing, unique to your wardrobe and like no other.
The trick here is to enjoy yourself and experiment. You don’t want these items anyway so what’s the harm? Definitely do some research online (or in books if you’re old fashioned) on technique first, but the sky’s the limit in terms of what can be achieved here.
If you’re really shy about this stuff and don’t mind spending a bit of extra cash, there is always the option of supporting a local business and finding craftspeople to spruce up your garments for you.