Communications Lead, Fashion Revolution Canada
One of the major misconceptions about sustainable fashion is that we can buy our way to a more environmentally friendly wardrobe. There’s a constant stream of new brands and products promising to be sustainable, but very few live up to their marketing hype. While garments made from recycled and innovative materials do send the right message, they don’t necessarily address the root cause of our clothing crisis, overconsumption.
Most of us buy too many clothes and don’t hang on to them for long enough. The number of clothes the average consumer purchased increased by 60 per cent from 2000 to 2014, yet we’re only keeping them in our wardrobes for about half the time compared to 20 years ago. We feel more dissatisfied with our clothes than ever before. Once the excitement of a new purchase wears off, we’re told to donate and make room for more, often not knowing where our clothes even end up. This change in the way we treat our clothing is fueled by the ever-changing trends of social media and made possible by the cheapness of fast fashion.
We used to keep our clothing for decades, mending as we go and handing them down once we couldn’t wear them ourselves. Today, clothing is seen as temporary and disposable. In reality, the most sustainable thing we can do as consumers is to reassess our relationship with fashion. Being more conscious about how and why we shop is just as important as the actual products we buy. The next time you feel the urge to shop, try looking at your wardrobe and picking out items that can be mended, altered, restyled, upcycled, or swapped with a friend. When you do need something new, look for versatile and high-quality pieces that can be worn for years to come. The planet will thank you!