I don’t know about you, but I find December to be one of the most wonderful months of the year. Oh sure you’ve got the craziness of Christmas shopping, the endless invitations to various festive events and parties with friends and family, and let’s not forget the reason for the season- the annual carols event at your church which seems to inevitably be dumped in your lap last minute.
Ahhh, December, you truly are wonderful.
Aside from the crazy that December brings out in us all, I find December truly wonderful because it signifies an end. It calls “wrap” on the year that was. Once all the Christmas baubles have been put away, the last of the ham has been eaten and the gifts we didn’t like have been returned, we’re left facing a year of possibility.
So what will your year of possibility look like?
For so many around the world, 2019 will be exactly like 2018. Living away from their family in tiny dorm-like conditions, working 18 hour days in a poorly ventilated factory, breathing in toxic chemicals as they work their fingers to the bone creating the latest fashion trend for the western world.
And as pessimistic as that picture seems, it’s sadly the truth for so many. What’s even sadder is that their situation won’t change until we do. We have the power to change the course of someone’s life through our choices.
Ethical and sustainable fashion is about providing an alternative to fast fashion. Most people think it is simply about where we choose to shop, and that is an important piece in this puzzle. But 40% of a garments Carbon Footprint is found in the home. Ethical and sustainable fashion is about looking at the “whole of life” of a garment. Where you purchase it is just one piece in a much bigger picture.
Here are some tips on how to make 2019 a year of sustainability and ultimately a year of partnering in the fight to end the exploitation in the supply the chain.
- Mend instead of Throw: cheap fashion is cheap for a reason. It’s not designed to last. It’s designed to get you back in the store the following week to buy more. On average Australians throw out around 6000kg of textile waste every 10 minutes. This textile waste goes into landfill and as it breaks down it releases harmful carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So if your top loses a button, gets a small tear, a strap comes undone, seek to repair it rather than throwing it out. And if you don’t know how to repair it, take it to your local alterations place who’ll easily be able to mend it for you. Not only will you keep the garment out of landfill but you’ll be providing work for someone who needs it.
- Repurpose rather than Giveaway: We’ve all done it thinking we were doing the right thing, but unfortunately giving our unwanted clothes to Vinnies isn’t always the best solution. Charity organisations like Vinnies and the Salvos only manage to sell around 15% of the clothes donated to them. The rest is packed up and shipped off to developing nations where it’s sold for next to nothing. This destroys the local economy because local artisans can’t compete with the price of the donated clothing and therefore end up unemployed. With clothing that you no longer want, try these things first before dumping them into the local charity bin:
- Gather the girls and have a Clothes Swap. It’s the best way to purge your closet and re-stock it without spending a cent!
- I don’t know about you but my mum always had a pile of rags (formerly our old clothes) under the laundry sink. We seem to have forgotten about simple repurposing like this. Instead of buying more paper towel, try repurposing your old clothes as rags to be used around the home.
- This one maybe a little harder for some, but you could always re-design your old clothes. There are some awesome blogs out there filled with tonnes of ideas on how to take your unwanted clothes and re-design them to give them a new lease on life.
- Less instead of More: This one will freak a couple of you out but try washing your clothes less. Not only does it help with the electricity bill and the household carbon footprint to not wash your clothes as much but it actually helps your clothes last longer. I’m not saying that if you spill something on your top after you’ve just washed it that you should wear it three more times before you wash it again, but if you’ve only worn it for a couple of hours try holding off washing it after a single use. Alternatively, if it simply grosses you out to wear a top you’ve already worn, try hand washing instead using a washing machine and hang it out to dry rather than throwing it in the dryer.
- Think before you Buy: Finally, think about who you’re buying your clothes from. Ethical fashion on average is no more than $5-$10 more than fast fashion, it’s generally a better product and the artisans on average have been paid a proper wage for their hard work. There are some great tools out there to help you make an informed decision. The Good On You App rates brands according to how ethical they are in the area of Labour, Environment, and Animal. The App is free to download and easy to use. Or if that’s too much effort, choose to shop at places like Thread Harvest who do all the hard work for you in determining how ethical a brand is.
2019 could be a year of possibility in so many ways. You could possibly free someone from slavery. You could possibly help restore the environment. You could possibly alleviate poverty. You could possibly save thousands of liters of water by simply choosing an ethically made T-Shirt. You could possibly save someone’s life just by choosing to shop ethically.
So what will your year of possibility look like?