Zero Waste Living for the Fashionista.
It’s Plastic Free July and what better time than now to talk about a more mindful life without the waste. This post is a collection of tips, tricks, and ideas that will help you live your life in the most sustainable way- in style! Hopefully you can take something from this or- if you have some good ones- share some tips of your own in the comments section below.
Upcycling and Recycling Round Up
Above you will find a collection of videos rounded up off YouTube that will help you upcycle, recycle and reinvent your clothing in new and exciting ways. While not all of the items you will see above are zero waste, you can easily adapt them to be zero waste by following some of the other tips in the sections below.
Why you should rethink synthetics.
No post about zero waste fashion would be complete without a discussion on end of life. Like us, our clothing has a limited lifespan. Sometimes it will be well made and might outlive us in functional order (like your great grandmothers wedding dress). But most of our clothing (especially poorly made fast-fashion) will be worn beyond use in this lifetime and will require disposal. Synthetic fibres (and other highly processed materials like tanned leather) are a nightmare for disposal.
When you are shopping with zero waste goals -new or secondhand- for clothing look for the following fibre types:
- Cotton: Cotton is highly absorbent and very strong so it makes for great cleaning cloths when you clothing in no longer wearable. Your cotton can be composted and depending on conditions, can start to break down in a matter of weeks.
- Linen and Hemp: A strong natural fibre types linen and hemp readily breaks down in your compost.
- Wool (not vegan): A favourite food for moths and silverfish sometimes wool starts to break down in your closet. If treated with care and kept with natural bug repellent then wool can be a lifetime investment. When your wool item no longer serves you it can return to the earth in a few months to a few years (depending on the fibre and the disposal conditions).
- Bamboo/Modal/Rayon/Viscose: These man-made fibres are create from natural cellulose sources and usually break down easily but it’s dependant on what processes they have been through or treatments that have been applied.
- Silk (not vegan): This lightweight natural fibre can last well if carefully laundered and stored, but when you are ready to part ways with silk it is biodegradable.
We don’t mix well.
If you were to head to your closet now there is a good chance that you will own at least one item that has a blended fibre type. For fabrics to perform well, companies innovate new blends that take advantage of the properties that consumers appreciate. As most of us err on the lazy side of life we prefer our clothes to be easy to care for. Which is why companies created blends of synthetics and naturals.
Naturals are breathable, but generally wrinkle easier than synthetics. Blending synthetics, that generally don’t crease easily and dry faster, with naturals can give easy care garments with the best of both fibre families. While these might be easier to wear and wash they are harder to recycle and don’t completely biodegrade.
If you choose to shop for blended fabrics try to find some that are natural blends, like cotton and hemp! If you do go for a synthetic blend try to find ways to keep it out of landfill at end of life. This DIY yoga bolster (pictured above) is one of my favourite options!
Beware of Excess
Regardless of where you happen to find yourself shopping it’s always good to be aware of excess. Excessive bags, tags, pins, flyers and catalogues can easily work their way into your life when you aren’t paying attention. Even if you are thrifting it’s a good idea to keep watch for excessive tags, and remember to say no to shopping bags if you can carry it or have your own handy.
When you do a boutique shop sales assistants might try to wrap your goodies in extra tissue paper or boxes. If you feel like you don’t need this to protect the item (perhaps you are planning to take it straight home) be confident and say no. They might try to argue otherwise but if you explain yourself they could congratulate you for your stubborn eco-ways.