Slow Fashion: Mindful Dressing

a person with paper bags

In a world where people are increasingly concerned about the environment, the practice of slow fashion is becoming more popular. Slow fashion is the antithesis of fast fashion — it’s about taking your time to make considered choices, both in what you buy and how you wear it. It’s about being mindful of the impact your clothing has on the planet, from production to disposal. If you’re interested in transitioning to slow fashion, here are a few things to keep in mind.

How to Make the Transition to Slow Fashion

First, take the time to assess your current wardrobe. What do you actually wear? What do you love and feel good wearing? What can be mended or altered to better suit your style? What can be donated or sold?

Getting rid of clothes you don’t wear is an important part of the slow fashion movement — it declutters your life so you can focus on the pieces you love. It also starts to change your mindset about hoarding clothes.

You don’t need a lot of clothes. Consider your lifestyle and retain a few key pieces for each activity that you do. You can have a capsule wardrobe of separates that you can mix and match to create multiple looks.

What to Do with Old Clothes

When you donate or sell used clothes that no longer fit you or your current style, you give the clothes a chance to be used by others. That reduces the demand for newly manufactured clothing and cuts down on textile waste.

The World Economic Forum reports that 10 percent of the carbon emissions worldwide come from the fashion industry. That makes up more than the combined emissions from all maritime shipping and international flights. Furthermore, the fashion industry has the second largest consumption of water. The production of a single cotton shirt uses up around 700 gallons of water. That can provide eight cups of drinking water daily in three-and-a-half years.

Even worse, an average of 2,150 clothing pieces are sent every second to landfills. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as of 2018, 7.7 percent of municipal solid waste (MSW) was made up of textiles. That means 11.3 million tons of textiles are sent to landfills yearly.

You can alter your old clothes so you can still use them. If they are too small, you can combine and redesign pieces to create new clothes. You can learn how to sew or find a seamstress. Check out slow fashion groups online, and you will likely find someone who provides this service near you.

You can also use your old clothes to create new items. For instance, you can use your old sweatshirts for a quilt blanket. If you don’t sew, there are quilt makers who can do this for you. You get to keep your sweatshirts and all the memories they bring to stay warm. You can also do this for your old t-shirts.

Do not throw away the textile remnants from your refashioned old clothes. You can sew them together as pot holders or coasters. You can use them as stuffing for throw pillows. You can also learn how to make stuffed toys to give away as gifts and use these remnants in them. Throw in your old socks, as well.

Pile of extra clothes for sale or donation

Tips for Buying Sustainable Clothing

When you want to buy new clothes, ask yourself a few questions before purchasing:

  • Do I really need this now? Does it fill a gap in my wardrobe that no other piece of clothing I already own can fill?
  • Is this made from durable and biodegradable or recyclable materials?
  • Were the materials sustainably and ethically sourced?
  • Is the manufacturing process of this company sustainable and ethical?
  • Is the style classic? Can I see myself wearing this for years to come?

The answers to these questions can help you determine whether the clothing item fits into slow fashion. If you answered yes to most of these questions, then it is a good purchase. Sustainable materials include linen, hemp, bamboo, and organic cotton. These materials are environmentally friendly because they require less energy and water to produce when compared to traditional materials like polyester.

When it comes to the manufacturing process, look for companies that use sustainable methods, such as using recycled water during the production process. You can also look for brands that are certified by Fair Trade or Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). These certifications mean the workers who made the clothing were treated fairly and paid a living wage. The clothes were also made with sustainable methods.

As for the style, classic doesn’t have to mean boring. You can find fashionable and sustainable clothing options that are versatile and timeless. If you take care of them, they can last you for years to come.

Wear Your Sustainable Clothes with Pride

Sustainable fashion is about wearing clothes that fill a gap in your wardrobe, are made from durable and biodegradable or recyclable materials, have sustainable and ethical manufacturing processes, and are classic styles. When you find clothes that meet these qualifications, wear them with pride! You’re supporting companies who produce clothing the right way and helping reduce the volume of textiles sent to landfills each year.

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