Here's What to Do With the Fast Fashion Currently in Your Closet
So, you’ve decided you want to build a sustainable wardrobe and transition away from fast fashion but where do you start? Should you get rid of everything in your closet and start over? What should you do with all the fast fashion currently hanging in your wardrobe?
At first glance it might seem like the obvious answer is to get rid of everything fast fashion and replace it with ethically made, sustainably produced garments. However, while that might be the ultimate goal, the most sustainable thing to do is actually to hold on to your fast fashion items and, make them last.
According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, more than half of the fast fashion produced is disposed of in under a year. Consequently, every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is sent to the landfill or burned. Starting from scratch and building a new wardrobe is not only super expensive but it also isn’t the best option if it means potentially sending more items to the landfill. A huge part of creating a sustainable wardrobe is having items that you love and wear all the time, even if they’re fast fashion. Taking care of your clothes, no matter the brand is one of the first steps to building a sustainable wardrobe and is arguably the best thing to do with the fast fashion already in your closet. The better care you take of your clothes the less they'll need to be replaced — allowing you to buy fewer items overall, lower your consumption and thereby reducing your contribution to the environmental and social costs of fashion in the long-term.
There are many tips and tricks for longer lasting clothes to help extend the lifespan of your closet.
wash & Dry your clothes properly.
There’s a reason why our clothes have care/wash instructions. Carefully read the care instructions on your clothes and wash accordingly.
Go easy on the detergent. Excess soap can hold in dirt and make it harder for garments to get clean thus leading to more washing, more water use and more wear & tear on your clothes. Too much soap also reduces a washer's efficiency and dumps more pollutants back into local ecosystems.
Wash dark clothing inside-out. Darker fabrics can become faded in the wash, particularly as it rubs up against other garments. Always wash dark clothes inside-out to help them hold their color.
Avoid overloading the washer. It might seem like a good idea to fit as many clothes as possible into a single load however by doing so, you’re actually minimizing the efficiency of the washer meaning your clothes won’t get clean (leading to having to rewash them — causing more wear & tear) and you could damage your machine.
Avoid the dryer. As much as possible avoid the dryer and opt to air dry your garments. Over-drying breaks down fabrics and shortens their lifespan. If you do use the dryer place items on top of the dryer to speed up their drying time.
Fun fact, most microfiber pollution occurs when we wash our clothes. (source) More than 60% of clothing made today is made with synthetic materials and fibers like polyester, nylon, and acrylic. Consequently, every time we do our laundry, our clothes shed tiny microfibers (below 5 mm in size) called microplastics. These tiny plastics go down the drains of our washing machines, through the wastewater treatment facilities and into our waterways. It’s estimated that up to 700,000 microfibers could be released in a single load of laundry. (source) It’s estimated that by the year 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean by density than fish! (source) One way to combat microplastics is to use a GuppyBag Washing Bag or something similar that decreases fiber loss and prolongs the lifetime of your garments.
How many items are hanging in your closet right now that you would wear but it’s missing a button, has a hole or the zipper broke? Learning how to do basic repairs on your clothing will not only make your clothes last longer but it’ll also save you a ton of money. If DIY mending isn't your thing no worries, take them to a tailor.
Store clothes properly.
Fold heavy sweaters on a shelf. Heavy garments like wool sweaters can stretch out and lose their shape when you hang them in your closet. Your best bet is to actually stack them folded on a shelf and save your precious hanger space.
Zip zippers. Sharp zipper teeth can easily catch on clothes and cause snags, rips, and tears. Make sure your zippers are zipped before you wash and put items away.
Don’t overcrowd your closet. Cramming clothes together, not only wrinkles but wears down sensitive fabrics.
Fold clothes along the seems. Folding your clothes is almost always better for clothing longevity. Make sure to fold along the seams to avoid unwanted creases and help your clothes maintain their shape.