We produce a godawful amount of clothing waste every year. I was reading Tomorrow Will Be Better by Betty Smith and I started thinking, planning for clothing and product longevity used to be a part of life (book takes place in Brooklyn in the 20’s). The middle and upper class accumulate more wealth than ever before and things are cheaper than ever before because of low industry wages and exploitative practices. Therefore, we have moved away from the mentality of reuse. In fact, I have heard “manifestation” coaches actively discourage thrift. Gag me. I want to clear this up right here and now. You are not living in a scarcity mentality if you mend something or use it for over a year. You are taking care of our home, the earth, and living with gratitude and care which will in turn create more abundance for years and generations to come. You are wise and loving when you purchase clothing planning for its longevity, paying for ethically made items, and having a plan for when it gets a little worn. So first I want to share the things I check when buying something in the first place.
5 things to consider before buying something:
Materials - First check the tags for the materials. Natural fibers are easier to clean and won’t hold onto stains as tightly as synthetic fibers. Also, Natural fiber sweaters tend to not get as pilled and worn out looking as quickly. And natural fibers get softer and more luxurious with age.
Dry Clean - Second check for whether it is Dry Clean only. Dry Cleaning is awful for the environment and for you. Only buy something that is dry clean only if it’s a last resort. Sturdier fabrics like Linen, cotton, and durable polyester items will survive a trip through the wash with the use of a mesh laundry bag.
Where / who made it - Check where the item is made. If the tag says Indonesia (or another developing nation) and there are no signifiers on the tags that indicate the company is ensuring fair and ethical practices in the manufacturing of the garments, I don’t buy it (unless of course I am buying something second hand and then I’m less strict about this because at least it is being diverted from landfills).
What's next for this item? - I tend to buy light colored clothing that I can dye later if I get bored of it. A white dress becoming an indigo or purple dress is fun and exciting and new without having to buy something new. Also, if it gets stained, it can be dyed to cover it.
Slow Down! - Don’t buy anything too quickly. Think about how many times you will want to wear it. Ideally 30+ times! Is it something that you need? Do I have something similar already? Can I do something else with it at the end of its life? Slowing down your purchasing process will inevitably reduce the number of things that sit, unworn in your closet.
What do you look for in thinking about the longevity of what you by? Share on instagram tagging @flowy.life and #flowyecochallenge for a chance to win a flowy gift card and other great prizes this winter.
5 ideas for diverting fiber waste:
Mend!! Mending your clothing rather than discarding is such a loving way to divert fiber waste. Every mend really adds to the character. I posted two videos on youtube: how to mend a tear and how to sew on a button .
Clothing Swaps! Even if it is virtual! This is so much better than shopping because it’s free.
Make cloth napkins! Or even pillow cases if there is enough fabric and it’s not worn out!
Cleaning Tools! Towels, socks, old t-shirts cut up make great reusable cleaning rags, dusters, and polishing rags
QUILTING!! My Mom’s mom (her name was Flo!) started this quilt (pictured above!) back in the sixties using my mom’s outgrown clothing. So cute! This could be a way of memorializing the more special things that are hard to part with.
Other craft ideas! Hook rugs, Crochet Baskets, dog bed, pet toys, stuffing
How are you diverting fiber waste?! Share on instagram tagging @flowy.life and #flowyecochallenge for a chance to win a flowy gift card and other great prizes this winter.
5 ways to donate and recycle textiles
Thrift stores create jobs in your community and give clothing and household items a second life. Checkout what your local stores do with the unsellable goods. Not all of them recycle. But they may partner with textile recyclers. Goodwill is one that does send the unsellable garments to be recycled properly.
Vintage stores or consignment stores might give you money or store credit for the good stuff!
Give to people in need. I handed a long warm coat to a woman experiencing homelessness and she was so grateful. They could also really benefit from anything water-repellent (as well as sleeping bags, tents, ect.)
If you have clothing or fabric that can’t be donated for whatever reason, you can google textile recycling options near me.
If you have scrap fabrics from sewing projects (ideally larger than 1/2 yard), art schools near you will also usually be more than happy to receive the donation.
I hope this inspires you think more sustainably when cleaning out your closet and shopping for new! I would love to hear from you if there is anything I missed!