The 7R’s of Fashion begin with REDUCE, the first and by far most important rule! Global fashion consumption is so out of control that in order to meet consumer demand, factories are pressured to churn out low-quality clothing instantaneously, creating unsafe working conditions and human rights violations.
This demand also has disastrous consequences for our planet. Harmful and toxic chemicals are required to grow and manufacture textiles, polluting our waterways, causing serious illness and death to farm workers and entering our food supply. It requires a tremendous amount of water to produce a single article of clothing; enough to provide years of drinking water to one person. And think of the carbon emissions from shipping millions of unneeded garments to fast fashion retailers around the world as often as each week, not to mention the emissions produced from clothing sitting in landfill when we’re done with it. As a society, we purchase 4X the amount of clothing that we did 20 years ago and we keep those items half as long.
So, what can we do to REDUCE our clothing consumption?
1. Choose practical items and wardrobe basics. What do we wear on a regular basis? Blue jeans, plain hoodies and t-shirts are great casual basics. In a professional setting, try neutral blazers, tailored shirts, pants or skirts. These items may sound nothing like your wardrobe staples, but this will always vary depending on the individual. Whatever works for you, as long your garments are worn and loved. Remember that basics never go out of style. A great way to think about it is: “Will I wear this piece at least 30 times?” 30 may not seem like a lot, but the stats show us that the average garment is only worn 7 times before being tossed, so 30 wears is a commitment. You can even get social and use #30wears.
2. Choose quality over quantity. Instead of buying 5 cheap basic tees that will stretch, shrink, fade and come apart at the seams, buy one great quality basic tee that will last a long time. We call this “cost per wear” because while the initial price tag may be higher, by the time you’ve replaced all those cheap tees, you’ve actually saved money.
3. Avoid impulse purchases, purchasing something solely because it’s on sale and unnecessary trips to the mall. This way, we only buy what we truly need.
4. Launder less. By washing and drying our garments less often and only when necessary (not after every wear), we’re reducing our water and energy consumption and extending the life of our clothes so that we can buy less. You can also choose to hand wash or hang dry clothing whenever possible.
A great way to REDUCE this November, is take part in Buy Nothing Day and adopt the philosophy of consuming less all throughout the year.