Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Repair and Repurpose
They say all goods things must come to an end - but not if we can help it! Introducing the 5 R’s of Fashion that extend the life of your garment and reduces your carbon footprint *drum roll*: Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Re-purpose and Recycle.
The average shopper buys 68 new garments every year. That's at least 1 piece per week. And heck, why wouldn't you when the prices are so low, and the ads of the laughing beautiful women look so effortlessly cool. Maybe I could be effortlessly cool? Maybe I could be effortlessly cool for $19.95?
To produce new clothing, the industry pumps out 4 billion kgs of carbon emissions every year - that's 8% of global greenhouse emissions. YIKES. So the single best thing we can do for the planet is to consume less and reuse more.
If you happen to be one of the 68-garments-per-year shoppers, if you buy less, the money you save can still be used towards clothing if that is what you like and enjoy, but now you can buy goods that you really like, actually fit (guilty), and will last.
The average wear of a garment is 7 times. But it has been said that if you can extend the life of a garment by even one year you can reduce its carbon footprint by 25%. I recently read about The 30 Year Jumper which admittedly made me realise the limited lifespan I give my clothes. If I bought for the next year, or the next ten, I think what I would buy would change. I might even own nicer things?
There is a saying that says "the most ethical outfit you own is what is already in your wardrobe". For most of us, what we own is enough. When you buy less and choose to re-wear what you own, it causes you to be creative with what you have - You are your own stylist!
If you are in the game of reducing your carbon footprint, then 're-use' your worn clothing. That is, wash your clothes less! An average household does around 5-6 loads of laundry per week which creates 26kg of carbon emissions. Some tips: Air out, spot clean, sun bleach, air dry, and wash in cold water - this reduces your carbon emissions by 10%!
Across the industry, only 15% of all discarded clothes are re-sold. It's estimated that 100 million kilograms of textile waste is dumped in New Zealand landfills. And it's estimated that around 10 million garments that have a lot of life left end up in landfill every year.
So shopping secondhand (in all areas, not just clothing) eliminates your carbon footprint by 60-70% because you are eliminating the carbon emitted when it was being manufactured! You can get strategic with your choices, like choosing to buy goods like denim jeans secondhand because they have 4-5 times the carbon impact of a T-Shirt.
Buying second-hand means that you get to eject yourself from the wasteful narrative and capitalist system we are born into and makes you feel like the Green Queen you are, as you hold on to your money, exchange your clothing and retain your power.
Think of those stories your mum and dad told you about hand-me-downs lasting between siblings. How your grandparents would craft jumpers, sew up holes, and buttons, and refuse to buy things new because they could see the life left in them. But now, when a garment is damaged, the easiest thing to do is replace it. It's wild to live in a time where it's cheaper to buy new than to repair it (I'm looking at you home printers). Replacing is cheap for me, but costly for papatūānuku.
When we are out sourcing clothing for you, we see great clothing covered in years of negligent; Stains, holes, broken zips, no buttons, etc. So we take them home and repair them labeling them "Saved From Landfill". We consciously adjust, tweak and reinvent clothing to make it last for you. But saving it feels so good for us! And we know you will feel that satisfaction too.
All good things must come to an end. Our clothes will eventually break, or become stained beyond repair, but the textile is still good for other things.
Rag factories turn textiles in to mattresses, carpet underlay and provide rags for businesses like mechanics. Some local brands and designers are re-purposing materials, such as recycled wool to create insulation for homes (does anyone else find that as interesting as I do?)
But you can be your own rag factory! There are so many good craft projects to re-purpose your fabrics - my favourite being a rag rug. But heck. You might not be crafty and that is totally okay! If you have a natural fabric (silk/wool/cotton/leather) that is no longer usable, why not bury her in your garden. You'll within 6-18 months that baby totally disappear.