Start Here: Why We Should Make, Mend, Thrift and Carefully Research Our Clothing

handmade and vintage clothes

THE PROBLEM:

We live in a society where clothing has never been cheaper or more poorly made than it is today. Many people thrill to find bargains and happily purchase an abundance of discounted, poorly made shirts that they might never even wear – or care about. Trends change so quickly and to keep up we spend as little as possible and often dispose of our clothes at the end of the season, or when they fall apart after a couple of wears.

Both the production and wearing of clothing causes production of Carbon Dioxide (1). Carbon Dioxide stays in the earth’s atmosphere, trapping heat and causing the “Greenhouse Effect”, also known as global warming (2). In the lifetime of a garment that is worn 50 times, half of the carbon dioxide is created during the manufacturing process, and half from wearing the garment (washing it, etc). If we buy a shirt that only lasts 4 wears, we would need 12 shirts to equal the one better quality shirt that lasted 50 wears, and we would increase carbon emissions by 550% (1).

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

In order to reduce our consumption and slow the Greenhouse Effect, we need to make much better purchasing and lifestyle decisions, starting NOW. The best way to make a change is to start asking questions about where our clothes come from, and also making choices with the clothes we have already. This site is meant to be a resource to help you make more informed purchasing decisions and also help you to mend and take better care of the clothes that you already own.

HOW THIS SITE WORKS:

This website is broken into five main sections. Not every section will appeal to every person, and that’s okay. This isn’t about attaining perfection and following every rule. It’s about deciding what you can do to help, and doing your best. Whether that is educating yourself, checking yourself before mindlessly shopping, thrifting, or making your clothes from scratch — that’s up to you!

THE FACTS: This section contains articles explaining why things like Organic Cotton or Fair Trade matter.

MAKE: This section covers tips and inspiration for making clothing ourselves. Making an item of clothing allows us to tailor it to exactly fit our needs and style, choose responsible fabrics and tools, control production quality, and in some cases allow us to wear a garment longer. It also removes all doubt that our shirt was sewn together with unethical practices such as child labour.

MEND: Mending and caring for our garments extends their number of wears, meaning we don’t need to buy new clothes as soon or as often. This connects us to our clothes, gives us respect for the people who made them, and means or clothes contribute less to global warming.

THRIFT: Buying used items means extending the usefulness of objects that already exist and decreases the demand on suppliers to produce more and more new things. It prevents clothes from prematurely ending up in landfills, reduces our draw on the earth’s resources and reduces carbon emissions.

PURCHASE: This section breaks down where to find items that have ethical and transparent supply chains, are making an effort to reduce energy usage and pollution, are made in Canada and North America, and are high quality.

BUT THIS SEEMS HARD? AND EXPENSIVE?

Being mindful about our clothes requires a bit more thought and effort, but it can feel just as good as going on a huge shopping spree on a bad day. Although purchasing new ethically made and eco conscious clothes is more expensive in many cases (due to paying workers fairly and using sometimes more costly processes and materials), the other options (thrift, mend, and make) can be done cheaply!

FIRST STEPS YOU CAN TAKE

It may all seem confusing and overwhelming at first, but here are some good first steps you can take:

  1. Stop mindlessly shopping to feel better. Impulse purchases are often items we don’t need and haven’t researched. We can spend the time and money we would have spent at the mall researching one item we DO need and buy one that will last for a long time.
  2. Look through your closet. You probably have a bunch of items that fit that you have forgotten about, and a couple of items that need only minor repairs or maybe just a good ironing to be wearable again. By knowing what we have, we can prevent ourselves from buying a similar item we don’t need.
  3. Do some minor repairs. Even if we don’t do them ourselves, taking the time to get a local seamstress to fix up some of our beloved clothes will put them back in rotation and also support a local business.
  4. Make a list of what you need. This way you can keep an eye out for classic pieces at good deals, that you know will fit your wardrobe.
  5. Be an example. One of the best ways to show other people that they can have a cool/elegant/funky wardrobe and also respect the environment is to TELL them! Spread the word!

We are happy to follow any leads you might have on interesting articles, new brands, or other research that this community might find helpful!

Resources:

(1) Carbon Trust Article on Clothing Longevity

(2) Nasa Article on the Greenhouse Effect

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