Have you ever considered the impact of your wardrobe on the environment? A German think tank published a report in 2022 suggesting that the most sustainable number of clothes you should have in your closet is 74. This should be part of 20 new yearly purchases, limited to five new outfits. It’s easy to assume that you don’t have many clothes, but if you take an inventory of your outfits, you can easily surpass the number. At least 4% of global emissions come from the fashion industry. This includes fast fashion, shipping of second-hand clothes, and disposal of clothes.
Feeling shame or embarrassment for owning more than 74 garments is unnecessary. Questioning your spending habits is more likely to result in better practices that save you money, space, and, eventually, your carbon footprint. With the rise of conspicuous consumerism, it’s easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of retail shopping for clothes that look in fashion. The availability of cheap clothes from markets also makes it easy to stuff your closet.
Weather patterns also influence how we buy our clothes. The cold weather is the perfect time to invest in new boots, mud-friendly shoes, scarves, thicker trousers, or anything that can withstand the cold, until the next cycle of cold weather, when you can buy all new clothes again because the last ones you bought are now out of style. Social media drives mass consumption, and retailers always give the most lucrative discounts to consumers who may not need new clothes.
How to change your spending habits
1. Limit your spending on new clothes
You don’t have to if you don’t feel like decluttering your closet. However, you can be more conscious of the purchases you make for your wardrobe. You can set aside specific times of the year, like seasonal changes, special holidays, or events like birthdays, to buy new outfits. Choose the clothes based on their durability and sustainability. Fabrics like cotton, silk, neoprene, and polyester last longer than other blends. Ensure you buy clothes that don’t have tears or holes so you don’t have to dispose of them once they can’t be worn anymore.
Choose clothes you’re more likely to wear often. Buying one-off gowns or fancy-dress clothes when you rarely attend fancy events is more likely to resort in your disposing of the outfit. A gown you bought two years ago is unlikely to fit you exactly the same. If you have an upcoming event, consider renting or getting an outfit tailored that can be adjusted later.
Go through your wardrobe and pull out the clothes you haven’t worn in 6-12 months. Are you ever going to wear them again? Consider donating them to thrift shops, needy people, or your friends. Disposing of clothes is difficult because only 1% of clothes are recyclable. Materials like polyester are oil products, and burning them is hazardous too. When selecting the clothes, look at what they’re made of. Jeans with elastane will last a shorter time.
3. Repair and reuse
Repairing tears with patches or sewing can help give your clothes a longer shelf life. While this isn’t possible for nylon or chiffon, be careful when wearing such materials in public. If they’re no longer wearable outdoors, you can choose to use them when you’re home alone without work to do.
4. Wash less often
Don’t overuse the water or use too much detergent when washing clothes. Studies show this helps clothes last longer. Unlike undies, vests, or socks, some clothes don’t need a wash after one wear.
Read also: How Long You Should Go Without Washing Your Pyjamas And Other Clothing, According To Experts
Over 100 billion clothing items are made each year, and 86% are disposed of in landfills. Consumers can create a more sustainable life by being mindful of how they buy their clothes. You may not need to own exactly 74 garments to be a conscientious consumer, but you will need to reduce how much you buy and dispose of clothes if this planet is to have any chance of reducing the impact of global warming.
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