Did you grow up with a parent or grandparent who darned socks & mended torn knees in trousers? Do you take your shoes to the cobblers? Do your repair the holes in your snow jackets or pants when they tear? A Swedish study from 2017 suggests extending the life of our clothes is “the single best thing we can do for the planet”.
Fashion cycles and consumer habits have drastically changed over the past decade or two. We produce clothes faster and more cheaply, and in larger quantities than ever before, something that the pioneers of Falls Creek could never have imagined. The 2017 study out of the Chalmers University of Technology by Sandra Roos generated the most comprehensive life cycle analysis of the environmental impact of our apparel to date, with fascinating results.
Clothing production accounts for an enormous 70% of the overall carbon footprint of the fashion industry, more than distribution (4%) and washing and drying (3%). Surprisingly, Roos found the emissions from shopping trips—taken mainly by car in Sweden—took second place with a 22% overall carbon footprint.
Researchers say that a piece of clothing should last for 100-200 wears, but most of us chuck out our clothes after a fraction of those wear. Shoppers in Europe and North America buy about 50 new clothing items per person each year. Given the impact of producing an item of clothing, buying less clothes and getting more wear out of what we have is the most critical thing we can do to reduce fashions impact on the planet.
Roos says: If you want to be as eco-friendly as possible, use your clothes until they are worn out. That is more important than all other aspects, such as how and where the clothes were manufactured and the materials they are made of.
So, what can we do to reduce the environmental impact of our clothes?
- Give away or sell your clothing to extend its life cycle, but this advice comes with a caution. Dumping your fast fashion in a charity bin & buying more contributes to the oversupply of clothing and does nothing to stop production impacts. However, buying second hand clothing instead of buying new is an excellent step in the right direction.
- Take a leaf out of your grandparent’s book and repair, remake and reinvent what you have. If sewing or knitting isn’t your thing, there are many businesses out there that offer these services. Remote Equipment Repairs in Point Cook specialises in repairing, recycling, remaking and reinventing outdoor clothing and equipment to bring it back to good as new, including watertight zip replacement and fully sealed garment repairs.
- Look for eco-friendly materials, including natural materials such as organic cotton, hemp, linen, or recycled wool, or low impact materials such as Lenzing Modal and lyocell (also known as Tencel).
- Think about how you wash and dry your clothes. Each wash shortens the life of a garment, and tumble drying has an even more significant impact, using five times more energy than washing.
- Cold wash your clothes and hang items out to dry when possible.
- Invest in clothes made from high-quality materials so that you can get more wear out of your clothing.
I decided to open Australia’s first vintage snow suit hire to help us all to embrace circular fashion and do my bit for environmental sustainability.
Renting clothing is a great way for people to have access to “new to them” clothing at a fraction of the cost of buying the item. It is environmentally friendly as it is re-using and, at times, remaking or re-purposing an existing item that has already been manufactured and is out in the world. I’ve had over 20 items repaired by Remote Equipment Repairs over the years (including a vintage Nordica boot bag).
So, if you are interested in dipping your toe into the pool of slow fashion, visit the www.idreamofsnow.com Store on Level 1, St Falls Resort West and rent a vintage snow outfit. The environment will thank you for it. Have a great week and see you in store!
Underneath PowederKeg Bar, St Falls Resort.
Adapted from an article written by Madeleine Hill on 28 Mar 2021.