Thursday, 29 August 2019

5 Ways To Get The Most Out of Your Wardrobe (To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint)

If you are someone who does get a lot of wear out of your own wardrobe, it might surprise you to discover that in the UK, as consumers we have around £30 billion worth of clothes which we haven’t worn for a year hanging in our wardrobes

There is pressure developing, mainly amongst people my age, to not be seen wearing an outfit more than once on social media sites such as Instagram. This encourages a consumerist attitude and makes us prioritise buying into short-lived trends rather than clothes which we will want to wear for years to come. We then end up with all these unwanted clothes sitting unworn in our wardrobes.
I have clothes that I bought a few years ago, in which my interest wore out quickly - trend-driven impulse buys.  If I had applied the same ethics which influence my shopping today, I would be wearing these clothes because I still loved them, rather than out of obligation to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Whatever or however much I own, how can I make the most out of my clothes in order to reduce the carbon footprint of my wardrobe? Having bought no brand new clothes in 2018, I have had to work out how I can make best use of what I already own. 

1. Sift through your clothes seasonally.

It is often a surprise for me when I rummage in the box of clothes that I tuck away at the bottom of my wardrobe. Before winter or summer I tend to rearrange my wardrobe slightly. Like most people, I do not have big bulky jumpers accessible when it is 20 degrees outside, or have tops with spaghetti straps hanging up when it is snowing. I sometimes forget what I already have and mistakenly think that I have absolutely nothing that is appropriate.  In fact, I have plenty- I just need to rediscover them.
If I did not check I would probably end up buying things that I do not need. Occasionally I will find something from 2-3 years ago that I have not worn - my taste has changed and I find I can make use out of it again!

2. Don't give up on things that need mending. 

Do you have a pile of clothes that sit waiting to be mended? I have a few things that I can picture now, that if I mended today, I would certainly get more wear out of.  The problem is that most people enjoy searching for something new and then buying while it seems like more effort to reach for a needle and thread.  The climate emergency demands that we rediscover the satisfaction which comes from restoring a loved item rather than casually discarding it.  Fashion Revolution found that 95% of discarded clothing can be recycled or up-cycled.

Visit Love Your Clothes to find out how to care for and mend your clothes so you can get more use out of them.
3. Buy things which you can interchange and wear in different combinations.

Not only is it more interesting to be able to wear things in more ways than one, but you also get your money's worth and it's much better for the planet. According to 'increasing the active life of all clothing by nine months would reduce the annual carbon, water and waste footprints of UK clothing by 20-30%'.

Before you make a purchase, consider whether a piece of clothing has potential to be worn in a number of ways. Try to visualise at least 4 different outfits that could be put together using that piece of clothing, and the clothing that you already own. This is slightly harder to do when it comes to occasion wear, but if you're only going to wear it once why not try a clothing rental service such as Wear The Walk?

I think that knowing your personal style helps here. Bloggers such as Alice Catherine (@alicecatherine) know which palletes of colour and styles suit them best. I have noticed that this means she finds it easy to mix and match. My friend Abi (@abi.bakerr) has a predominantly blue and white wardrobe which means that most of her clothes work well together, and she is able to mix up her outfits every day, which look great! Also have a look at YouTuber and blogger Bethany (@dearlybethany). Her whole Instagram focuses on showcasing how a few pieces of quality clothing can be put together in a multitude of ways. 

'increasing the active life of all clothing by nine months would reduce the annual carbon, water and waste footprints of UK clothing by 20-30%'

4. Getting the most out of your wardrobe can also mean other people getting use out of the clothes you are not wearing. 
Swap or give away!

My sister Lauren is close to me in age and we're lucky that we have a cross-over in the styles that we like, and the types of clothes that we choose. This means that when I riffle through the clothes that I don't get much wear out of, she or my younger sister discover something that they like or in fact suits them better. Tastes change and I'm now wearing a cardigan that Lauren got years ago on a daily basis. Swapping is beneficial to both of us. You could swap with people you know, donate to charity shops or sell on online sites such as ebay or depop, making space for things that you will wear and giving your clothes a second life.  Here is a post about my experience of swapping clothing with my sister.

5. Use accessories to change an outfit.

Over the course of last year when I was only buying second hand clothing, I found that an easy way to make my outfits different was to wear headscarves as well as interesting earrings.
I now select clothes that I know will work well with my headscarfs.
I have bought more headscarves and earrings recently as I've been spending less on clothes. They are actually very easy to find and can be really cheap. Buying something like a headscarf uses up far less material than a piece of clothing, therefore having less environmental impact.
I have found headscarves at flea markets, kilo sales and charity shops. At a vintage kilo sale I felt like they were practically free because they weighed next to nothing! Shops such as LUSH also create headscarves using organic and deadstock fabrics.

I hope that you enjoy rediscovering clothes that you love in your wardrobe!

                                                                                                            Beccy x


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