It’s been a tough year to endure; one marked with turmoil, negativity and a lot of uprising. But amidst it all, there’s also been a surge in awareness around causes to care about. Whether it’s depleting water levels, rising air pollution or just the general looming threat of climate change that has gripped the world, we’re all a little more aware of how our actions can affect our fellow earthlings.
While we may be open to making sure we segregate our garbage, eat less meat and turn all the taps off, it’s the adjustments in a life of luxury that are the toughest to address. Especially during the holiday season, a time when everyone scrambles to buy gifts and make merry, sustainability stands out like a sore thumb, and we’re probably all guilty of using that plastic straw or buying from a brand that is known to be an environmental polluter. In a culture where our lives are judged through a lens of social media, excess tends to become a habit we can’t seem to break. But turns out, even though fast fashion makes runway style affordable, it comes at a greater cost to the environment. Fabrics like polyester, a recurring favourite for many fashion brands, contribute to colossal amounts of microplastics which are non-biodegradable and threaten marine life; processes like washing and dyeing not only absorb available water resources but also taint them with harmful toxins and chemicals. The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of human emissions, which is more than all the emissions let out by international flights in a year. Not to mention, waste is a major issue in the industry, with most materials either ending up in dump yards or being incinerated to become harmful fumes.
So, as we charge our way into a new decade, here are some resolutions we should make to be more sustainable when it comes to our wardrobe. Repeat after us:
Thou shalt repeat as many outfits as possible
For too long we’ve felt like repeating an outfit makes you an outcast and that if you’re not posing in a shiny new dress in every social media post, you just aren’t stylish enough. But now is the time to make your clothing last longer than the memories you made while wearing them, so as much as possible, wear and re-wear the same style statement. A great way to do this is by investing in separates and styling them differently every time you venture out. You can also repeat your dress depending on the different groups of people you are going to meet if you’re worried your fantastic sense of style is being compromised.
Thou shalt cut out all inorganically grown cotton
Cotton is probably the most common thread used to bind clothes together. But it also happens to be one of the biggest environmental polluters. Not only does soil quality degrade after cotton is grown, but the run-off from pesticides it uses also seriously contaminates water. When processed inorganically, cotton uses up more water than you would need to bathe in a week. So one major shift has to be replacing the age-old trusted fabric. Linen, handwoven cotton and hemp are great alternatives, but even sticking to clothes that scream organically grown cotton on the label should do the trick.
Thou shalt upcycle outfits into useful things
This is a tactic that all those who practice sustainability swear by. If you feel you’ve overdone an outfit, don’t just discard it. Instead, see if you can repackage it into useful things like table runners, pouches or cushion covers. Do your bit to reuse it all, even if it means turning your trusted T-shirts into floor mops.
Thou shalt donate thy dresses
If you still feel like your outfits can’t be upcycled and used in another way, there’s always the option to donate them to those in need. One of the biggest criticisms when it comes to fashion is the amount of waste it generates every year, especially as brands begin to launch more collections with every passing year. So, instead of hoarding up that bomber jacket or floor-length gown, give them away to orphanages, old-age homes and NGOs. The key here is also to ensure that your clothes are going to the right place, so research the organisation you want to give to. Another option is to simply host a swap party and ask your friends to bring along clothes they feel don’t fit them anymore and exchange the ones you no longer like so that someone else can breathe new life into them.
No matter what your other resolutions may be for 2020, we must all incorporate sustainability into not just our wardrobes, but also the way we live our lives. Let’s make this new decade all about giving back to the earth we have grown on, even if it means giving up on some of the things we loved.