In search of greener clothes

Clothing has a huge environmental impact. Throwaway fast fashion puts out a lot of carbon and adds a lot to landfill. Plastic fabrics put plastic particles into the environment. Cotton takes a lot of water to produce. Wool can be good, or can have land and animal welfare issues associated with it. Hemp and bamboo fabrics seem to be pretty good, but they’re also much more expensive.

Cheap clothing is made in awful conditions and there’s a huge social justice angle to changing how we buy and use clothing.

In terms of personal impact on the environment, we can make a lot of difference with our clothes choices. Never throw away clothes that could be given away and worn by someone else. Don’t buy clothes with the intention of wearing them once or twice. Try to buy the most durable clothes you can. Buy second hand if you are able to  – not everyone has time, energy or a conventional enough body-shape for this. Keeping fabric in use isn’t hard.

I’ve got into upcycling. The skirt I’m wearing in the photo is made from school shirts. The shirts in question were unusable as shirts – worn at the collars, marked, stained and otherwise damaged. I threw away the ruined fabric and made a skirt from the salvaged material. My knickerbockers were made from a pair of trousers that died.

The shirt I am wearing was salvaged from landfill by an innovative lad who is exploring more responsible approaches to fashion. A lot of stuff is thrown away before it even gets to the shops, but this can be salvaged and used, and in this case, has a steampunk weasel printed on it. (Weasel designed by Tom Brown). When I can point at a store for this, I will.

I have a lot of fun keeping cloth out of landfill. It creates interesting challenges and I end up with unique items of clothing. I have a horror of looking like the sort of person who has bought all their clothes from a supermarket, but I don’t have a huge clothing budget for fancy gear. This approach saves me money, which means when I buy new I have more scope to make more sustainable choices.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

4 responses to “In search of greener clothes

  • jswhite

    This is something I feel pretty strongly about as well. Aside from underwear, socks, and bras, all my clothes and shoes are bought second-hand.

    I can find pieces I like, still in good shape, and with the bonus of being pre-shrunk by being washed by someone else multiple times, so I know when I wash them, they’ll still fit. And 90% of the time, my clothes are gently used and can easily be given away or redonated for someone else to use after me.

    I don’t understand the obsession with having tons of clothing. Or the seemingly new taboo some have about being seen or photographed in the same outfit more than once.

    Our clothing choices (there are always exceptions) can be one of the easiest sustainable swaps to make. So thank you for bringing up this issue on your blog. 🙂

    • Nimue Brown

      All power to you. I struggle with shopping second hand – issues of time and energy and being tall and broad… but I do grab things when I see them. I am hard on clothes, but I’m increasingly into finding entertaining ways to patch them up!

  • Rachel

    yep, I don’t touch fast fashion. I maybe buy 1 or 2 new items a year. Everything else is charity shop bought, in fact I bought a lovely long wool dress yesterday for a fiver!
    Similar with steampunk, i rarely buy new-much prefering to use charity shop items or sew my own outfits. The hat i wore last weekend I bought at the 2nd Asylum 10 years ago!
    I get more a more frustrated with shoes/boots though, i have feet issues so need good solid boots but they seem to fail so quickly -even expensive ones.

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