The amount of textile waste in the world is getting exponentially larger. In 2018 the United States threw away over 17.03 million tons of textiles, this is an over 89% increase from the 1.76 million tons documented in 1960. Of course, this a tricky problem with many factors, and look for a post exploring the problem deeper soon. However, as individuals we can have impact with our own practices. The way that you buy, maintain, and dispose of your clothing matters, and here are some tips on how you can do so more sustainably:
2. Make your clothing purchases with intention and avoid impulse buys: Clothing shopping can be addictive, shopping a seasonal sale can be both fun and feel like a good deal. However, you’re not really saving money if you didn’t need the items you bought to begin with. Make a list of pieces that you want and try to buy them as you find them.
3. Learn how to mend your clothing or support a local business that can help: With a little practice fixing small repairs in your clothing is attainable for most people. Consult local tailors and other clothing repair shops with more serious repairs.
4. Buy most of your clothing used: Avoid supporting the fast fashion industry by buying used clothing, you can often get high quality pieces at an affordable price. Either check out a local thrift store or browse online options such as thredUp or Poshmark.
6. Purchase natural materials over synthetics: Natural materials such as cotton, wool, hemp, linen, and silk are biodegradable unlike synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon, and spandex which are made from plastic. Overall natural materials are easier to dispose of, but also when you wash fabrics tiny fibers shed off and end up in the waterways. Synthetic fibers that end up in waterways are known as micro-plastics and often end up in the bodies of animals and humans.
7. Consider the time and energy that it takes to maintain your clothing: Some fabrics wrinkle easier and some need dry-cleaning. If you aren’t willing to spend the time on higher maintenance items they might end up as waste. There are also materials that can be washed less often such as wool and denim, and this saves energy and makes the items last longer.
9. Recycle any textiles that cannot be donated: Recycling is not efficient as reducing waste, but it is better than sending your non-wearable clothing to the landfill. If you are wondering where to take your textile recycling most Goodwill and Salvation Army thrift stores will recycle unusable textiles.
Hopefully these tips will help you rethink and improve your clothing consumption so that you can produce less waste and have a more sustainable wardrobe.
Amanda Clement is serving as an ECO AmeriCorps member at the CVSWMD this year. Amanda is a life-long Vermonter who grew up in Fair Haven, VT. She has a BA in Environmental Studies and Political Science from Castleton University, and enjoys learning new things about the planet every day. When the world allows it, she enjoys travelling and has been to seven countries including New Zealand, Iceland, and Japan. Currently Amanda lives in Barre, and when she’s not serving, spends time hiking the local trails and trying to kill her many plants.