It’s important to make greener choices with the way we dress, but this isn’t just about changing our shopping habits or how we dispose of items. It’s also important to look after what we already have too.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 64,000 tonnes of textiles are dumped each year. A further 57,000 tonnes are sent to textile banks and charity shops, but some of this may be unfit for reuse or could be exported overseas. Though it’s vital to recycle unwanted clothing where possible, reducing the amount we discard is also necessary.
So what are the best ways to achieve this? Read on for top tips on how to make your clothes last longer:
It’s lovely to put on fresh, clean clothes, but are we getting a bit carried away sometimes? Of course, it’s important to launder clothing that is dirty, but if you’ve only worn that jumper for a few hours or your trousers have a small mark which could easily be removed with a damp cloth, there’s no need to banish them to the laundry basket just yet.
This may sound obvious, but far too many of us forget to check the label both before buying and before washing. If an item is dry clean or hand wash only and you know you won’t get around to doing that, then there’s no point in purchasing. Once it’s home, ensure you keep delicate items separate from your main washing pile and give that poor woollen jumper or silk bra the care it deserves.
Nothing makes knitwear look worn out quicker than fabric pills and bobbles, but that doesn’t mean you have to say goodbye to your favourite cardigan. Fabric shavers are affordable to buy, easy to use, and will have your wardrobe looking as fresh as a daisy in no time. I have a Philips one.
Repair issues as soon as possible
We all know what it’s like – you lose a button or get a small tear, and somehow you never get around to fixing it. Suddenly perfectly good clothes are resigned to the bottom of the drawer until you get sick of the sight of them and throw them away, you forget you own them, or you buy a replacement which is in perfect condition to ‘save time’. To avoid this slippery slope, make those repairs as quickly as possible, it usually takes a lot less time than you think!
This also counts for shoes – getting your favourite pair reheeled can give them a new lease of life. Even if you worry they may be beyond repair, it’s worth checking with your local cobbler. It could save you money, and the pain of wearing in a new pair of shoes.
Don’t be afraid to make alterations
If your jeans are a bit long, your skirt is a little tight, or your jacket just doesn’t sit right, it’s not surprising that you don’t want to wear them. But whether you’re nifty on the sewing machine yourself or you’d rather trust the professionals to make alterations, it’s worth making sure your clothing feels just right. You’ll get a lot more wear out of what you own, and it’s probably cheaper than buying new stuff every time.
Even if you look after your clothing as best you can, it’s common for white clothing to lose some of its brightness, and dark clothing to look faded after a while. But you don’t have to say goodbye just yet. Clothes dye is easy to use (I usually buy the washing machine dyes), and can make your favourite clothes look good as new. Either dye pieces their original colour, ideal for returning black jeans to their former glory, or pick a new colour you love, which works best on white or pale clothing. This is also a great option for towels, small machine washable rugs or bed linen.
Finally, let’s go back to the beginning. Clothes and shoes are likely to last longer if you buy quality in the first place. This doesn’t necessarily mean expensive, as designer labels often raise the price without necessarily improving quality. Instead, look out for quality fabrics, good workmanship, and ethical brands you can trust. I love independent companies like muthahoodgoods.com, and vintage clothing – things were better in the old days, as they say!