Five Tips For Saving The Planet This Earth Month

by: Rosie Dalton | 10 months ago | News

April is Earth Month and 2019 marks the 49th anniversary of this important global movement. The theme for this year is plastic pollution. "We will expand and identify various forms of plastic and other related materials, their history and how they pollute in both fresh and salt waters and other areas; the harm it causes to our precious environment and ultimately human health," says Earth Month.

As individuals, there are certain steps we can be taking in our own lives to help save the planet. Like putting an end to single use plastics and investing instead in things like Keep Cups, Klean Kanteens and Hello Cups. In terms of the fashion department, though, these are some of my favourite tips for reducing the impact of my wardrobe and helping save the planet – all year round, but especially this month.

1) Buy less
Vivienne Westwood said it best when she said: "buy less, choose well, make it last.” This is the mantra that I often return to when I feel the need to buy something new. I know that one person choosing to buy less mightn't exactly revolutionise fashion, but it can have a cumulative effect over time. This is a concept that Lucy Siegle explores in her book To Die For: Is Fashion Wearing Out the World? “A staggering one-and-a-half-billion pairs of jeans and cotton trousers are sewn in Bangladesh every year," she points out. And most mass-produced garments arrive in our stores with a similarly staggering backstory. So perhaps we don't need ten pairs of jeans, just one really good pair. And when we buy less, we become part of the movement to protect the planet.

2) Buy better
Taking up a fairly small percentage of the world’s land (an estimated 2.4%) conventional cotton crops account for a disproportionately large percentage of the world’s toxic chemicals. According to the Cotton Advisory Committee (CAC), conventional cotton still represents as much as 5% of all pesticides and 14% of all insecticides use globally. Which is a statistic that I refer to when checking the materials tag of any new purchases. Because, by investing in sustainable fibres like organic cotton, Tencel or Modal, I know that I am reducing the impact that my wardrobe has on the natural world. 

3) Extend the lifecycle of your clothing
"Doubling the useful life of clothing from one year to two years reduces emissions over the year by 24%,” according to Fashion Revolution. So before I buy something new, I consider whether I already own something similar that could be repaired, re-styled or reinvented with a dye job or a hemline change. Patagonia has a whole program dedicated to extending the lifecycle of clothing, Worn Wear, which provides useful videos on how to fix a broken zipper, for example, or mend a hole. Because as far as the brand is concerned, “as individual consumers, the single best thing we can do for the planet is to keep our stuff in use longer.” 

4) Recycle unwanted garments
According to the Council of Textile and Fashion Industries of Australia, clothing is the fastest-growing household waste in the country. This is because Australians send a whopping $500 million worth of clothing and textiles to landfill each year, which amounts to an average of 30 kilograms per person. Which is why recycling your clothes properly is crucial for saving the planet. This is not an excuse to buy more clothes than we need, but rather a gentle reminder to keep wearable clothes in rotation by donating them and to investigate textile re-use facilities for those pieces that can no longer be worn. 

5) Develop a personal uniform
In the context of our choice society, we are constantly buying new clothes that we don’t need. So why not focus on developing a personal uniform instead? Maya Singer puts it eloquently when she says: “as a lover of fashion, I’d like to promote the idea that having a sense of style is a way of taking action: If you’re finicky in your taste, fussy about the way your clothes are made, and curatorial in your approach to putting together a wardrobe, that’s a pretty good defense against the temptation to buy some piece of tat, you know, just because. People should take fashion more seriously, not less.”

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