What can we do to prevent textile waste? It’s no secret that the fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. The way we produce and consume clothing has a negative impact on our environment, and it’s time for us to make a change. In this article, we will discuss six tips to help you make your clothes last longer. Not only will this help reduce textile waste, but it will also save you money in the long run.
So, what can you do to make your clothes last longer? Here are six easy-to-follow tips to keep in mind.
1. Fewer laundry cycles
Wash your clothes less often. Washing your clothes too often can shorten their lifespan. Only wash them when they are actually dirty. If you spot stains that don’t necessarily require you to put the piece into the laundry, you can try to remove the stain with handwash or a stain remover pen. This also helps you save your own time, as well as electricity, and detergent. Of course, there are limits to this practice but you’ll figure out what’s okay and what isn’t over time.
2. There are quality differences
It’s not a guarantee, but often low-budget clothing does not last that long. Of course, it’s great if we can get a bargain and have something nice that we can use for a long time, but if I look through some of my clothing, some of it is more than ten years old, and if I’m honest to myself those weren’t the cheapest ones. You could consider investing in higher-quality clothing. Higher quality clothing is made to last and will save you money in the long run. It also provides fashion companies with the budget to source sustainable materials and pays their employees a fair wage. However, note that expensive clothes don’t automatically mean good-quality clothes.
3. Take care of your clothes
To some more obvious than to others, but if you are a little mindful that clothes do depreciate over time, you can help them to last longer. Take care of your clothes. Be careful when you are wearing them and treat them with care. This will help them last longer. Store them properly. Please don’t leave them in a pile on the floor (yeah, I used to do that, and it wasn’t great for the clothe) or stuffed into a too-small drawer. Fold them or hang them up, so they keep their shape and don’t get wrinkled.
4. Fix your things before you throw them away
This might not be easy for all of you, but even if you’re not a tailor, you can learn a lot about clothing repairs on YouTube and in articles online. Mend and repair your clothes. If you have a piece of clothing that is starting to fall apart, don’t throw it away. Try to mend or repair it instead. If something is definitely through its lifecycle, you can still keep the fabric to fix other things. Pieces of socks, underwear, jeans, or generic fabric can help you to increase the lifetime of other clothes or even the inside of a shoe.
5. Ease the burden on your shoulder by buying secondhand clothing
You can find some amazing secondhand clothing if you take the time to look. Buying used clothing is a great way to reduce textile waste and save money. Plus, it’s more sustainable than buying new clothes. When you buy secondhand clothing, be sure to inspect the item carefully for any signs of wear and tear. Secondhand clothing stores are not the only places where you can find used clothing. You can also check out online marketplaces, such as eBay, Poshmark, Vinted, Shpock, or whatever might be popular in your region right now.
6. Too good to go? Sell or donate what you don’t like anymore
When you are done wearing an item of clothing, but it’s still in a good state, please don’t throw it away. Someone else might be able to wear it and love it. You can sell your clothes online or at a consignment store. Or, you can donate them to a thrift store or charity. This way, you can help to prevent textile waste, make someone with a small budget happy, and even make a little money to buy something new.
Why is all of this important? Why should we care?
As I mentioned before, the textile industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. It’s responsible for a considerable amount of water and air pollution. And it’s not just the production of clothing that’s harmful to the environment. The way we use and care for our clothes also has a big impact.
Based on a report from 2021, we throw away about 92 million tons of textile waste every year. The EPA reports that in 2018 the rate for all textiles in the US that get recycled is only 14.7 percent. The largest part of that goes into landfills, where it takes up space and releases methane, a greenhouse gas, as it decomposes.
We can help to reduce the amount of textile waste by making our clothes last longer. Sustainability is important, and it’s something we can all strive for in our lives. Hopefully, these tips will help you to do that. Of course, this is not meant to be scolding anyone for their bad behavior, but perhaps it gives a bit of motivation on what we can do to make a little change ourselves.
YouTube: Recycling fashion – The town turning waste into clothes (BBC News)
Photo credit: The feature image has been done by Olena Yakobchuk. The chart graphic in the body of the article has been done by the EPA.