How to Care for the Earth Through Your Closet
April is a busy time of year. Spring has officially sprung and our minds turn to our connection with the earth through celebrations and official memorial days. First held in 1970, Earth Day is now celebrated the world over to remind us of our connection to our common home. April also holds Fashion Revolution Week which began after the 2013 Rana Plaza building housing garment factories in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed, killing over 1,100 people. This tragedy launched a global campaign for wide scale reform that still continues today.
As conscious citizens, we aim to make the world a better place through our collective action and purchasing practices. Why not combine your Earth Day and Fashion Revolution commemorations by caring for the Earth through your closet? Here are five ways to care for the planet and garment workers simultaneously.
Search for secondhand. Fashion waste is becoming a huge problem. Places like Chile’s Atacama Desert or Ghana’s Kantamanto market have become a dumping ground for fast fashion. This practice wreaks havoc on both the environment and the communities that depend on those ecosystems. One way to impact this problem is to search secondhand first. Make a list of things you need and look for them at a thrift store or secondhand resale shop as your first choice before purchasing something new.
Swap and rent. As life opens up after COVID, start looking for clothing swaps! These events are held by local churches, sustainable fashion orgs, and neighborhood groups, and are great places to find clothes that might be gently used, like baby clothes or handbags. You can find other like-minded folks through social media and other groups in your area. If you’ve got a fancy event coming up, rather than buying an outfit for the occasion consider renting or borrowing from a friend or family member.
Repair and mend. Over time, fabric gets worn out and buttons need to be replaced. Learn some visible mending techniques to make your pieces one of a kind and keep them out of landfills. Not only does this help your closet, it helps your brain too. According to psychologists, sewing can induce meditation-like mental states, acts as a natural antidepressant, and may aid in neuroplasticity regeneration.
Up your laundry game. About 25% of a clothing item’s impact over the course of its lifetime comes from how it’s washed and cared for. Choose cold water and handwashing to reduce the energy use from your washing machine. Use an eco-friendly laundry detergent and use a Guppy bag or Cora Ball to catch the microplastics that shed from synthetic fabrics so you can dispose of them properly. Additionally, techniques like sponging, steaming, and spot cleaning can help you go longer between washes to reduce your environmental impact.
Purchase from brands doing better. Buy clothing less often and buy it from brands who are doing better with their business. Choosing fair trade lets you know that the company has met strict environmental, social, and economic criteria and care about making the world a better place.
Are there other habits you practice to make your closet more eco-friendly? Let us know in the comments below!