Minimal Waste Guide #9 - Clothing
Hello, hello fellow students, today we would like to talk about ‘fast fashion’. Fast fashion is a phenomena of our 21st century, that aims for manufacturing the latest fashion trends on the catwalk into inexpensive clothing items for the mainstream consumer. The cheaper the better, quantity over quality. This has lead to a global consumption of 80.000.000.000 new pieces of clothings every year, that is a consumption 400% more than just two decades ago.
With this high supply of clothing comes a big pile of textile production. Hereby the fashion industry evolved into the second-largest polluting industry in the world, following up on the oil industry. (True Cost Film) We as consumers buy too many clothes and pay too little for them. This needs to change.
In this blogpost we give you tips and tricks on how to reduce and improve your clothing consumption. Additionally we provide you some tips on how to extend the lifespan of your items, taking good care of your items is half the work. Ultimately we talk about the recycling part of our clothing. A circular economy is our goal, so we might as well get started with our own clothing chain. Enjoy this read!
Where to buy?
Bershka, Zara and H&M have amazing items, but come with too big of an environmentally footprint. Their cheap and trendsenstive collection is nice but not sustainable for planet and humankind. Second hand shops on the other hand are filled with items from these same brands, however at an ever cheaper prize. Furthermore these shops offer items for all different kind of styles and give you the chance of buying expensive brands for only half the price or even less! Contribute to this amazing concept and visit shops like Episode, Kilostore or the Ijhalen. In the Green Guide 2.0 of the Green Office you can find a whole overview of second hand offers in Amsterdam.
But why buy clothing if you can have it for free? Not only do we ourselves have too much clothing in our closets that we don’t wear, the same counts for our friends and family. Ask around if people want to get rid of stuff they no longer wear and host a closet sale! Invite friends and roommates to your house, buy drinks and snacks and play some nice tunes. Ask people to bring their old stuff and swap around. There is a sufficient amount of textiles and clothing in our world, now it is our job to get creative and use it sustainably.
Order, order, order
Fast fashion is cheap in the stores and also online. Online fashion has transformed into a billion dollar business offering overseas items for less than 10 euros. We all know this cheap offer is not possible if it wasn’t for some shady practices that happen without us seeing it. In a Green Office organized lecture about fast fashion, speaker Merunisha Moonilal told us that in a research on ASOS, she found out, ASOS burns returned items instead of putting it back into their production chain. It simply costs them more money to resell it, than to just destroy the textiles. In addition to that, BBC news exposed Burberry by stating in their article that the big fashion company destroys their unsold products out of protection of their brand. Burning textiles apparently isn't that strange of a practice within the fashion industry.
Thus, keep in mind that when your order 5 dresses online at ASOS only for fitting them and return them to the company, their life has probably come to an end. We suggest buying clothing offline, or ordering online from sustainable brands. Their orders come with sustainable packaging and you support good initiatives.
As students we have to take care of our own laundry. Good care is half the job and will prolong the life of your favorite items. Here some basic tips to make sure you handle your clothes the right way.
Hang your clothes
Not all items have to be washed after wearing it one time. Hang it out first and let the fresh air clean out the smell. Avoid tossing your clothes on the ground, the material might can get permanently damaged.
Separate your white laundry from your black and colour. Check the washing labels for the advised temperature. After the laundry is done, hang out your clothes and let them dry naturally. The sunlight is sensible to your clothing and comes with disinfectant qualities. Do you have an item that is too vulnerable for the washing machine? Hang it next to you while having a show, this way it gets steamed for free.
Where to recycle?
You’re done with a certain garment, but it’s not done yet? Ask your friends if they’re interested. You could also post pictures of your items online using Instagram, Facebook, Marktplaats or United Wadrobe. Other options are second hand stores like Rataplan or organisations such as het Leger des Heils. They welcome your items with open arms. Check out the containers of Sympany. Besides clothing you can also hand in shoes. On top of that, it doesn’t matter in what conditions your garments are. This organisation has several projects for multiple purposes. The good stuff will be given to refugees, the finished stuff will be used for cleaning material and isolation of cars.
Is your favorite piece totally worn out? Use it as a cleaning towel. Do you already have too many cleaning towels? Make sure to recycle it properly. Amsterdam provides bins for only textile trash. Check this map to see where your nearest recyle bin is.
On the 20th of June, the Green Office hosts a second-hand market for students by students. For only 5 euros you can get a stand with 2 - 3 persons. You can sell anything that no longer sparks joy for you, from clothing & accessories to books and hairdryers. Come find us at the Muziekzaal at CREA and give your stuff a second life!
Photos in respective order: Becca Mchaffie, Markus Spiske, Erik Witsoe & Ethan Bodnar