My first memory of fashion, the way a great outfit can lift your mood and spirit when you step out for the day, dates back to my most favourite time of year growing up: my birthday. Starting at age three, my grandmother would make me a dress for my birthday featuring delicate prints like tiny purple bows or red with white polka dots. They were like tiny treasures; each one making me feel unique, chic and truly one of a kind. I’ll never forget picture day in Kindergarten when my parents were away and my mom’s friend was taking care of us. As she helped me get dressed into my new and fabulous frock, she insisted the buttons went in the back when I knew that this particular design boasted buttons in the front. Hopeless, I gave in and wore the dress backwards to school paired with a pout all day.
At a young age, I had a strong opinion of what I wore and sporting clothing made by my family was the norm (it was around this same time that my mom had started her children’s clothing company which was designed and manufactured in her home studio). Looking back I realize I was sporting sustainable fashion and supporting local businesses before it was a trend. And we were also being green: every piece of clothing was carefully considered for donation or the consignment store before being reused as a rag or being tossed in the bin.
For as long as I can remember I’ve been a repurposer, a recycler and a hater of waste. But until recently, I hadn’t taken the time to fully understand fashion’s impact on Mother Earth. After launching my first blog and making the subsequent foray into the world of fashion, I took the time to define and understand my own style. I soon became less susceptible to falling prey to sales, deals and discounts, and no longer found pieces in my closet that went with nothing else that I owned. I took pride in taking the time to find the right piece with the right fit that was going to last me more than one season. I quickly learned I could do more with a few better quality pieces that with a closetful of stuff I’d rarely wear. And I felt like I was doing my part until I was humbled by the reality of fashion’s footprint when I read an article in FASHION magazine.
Did you know that the fashion industry is the second-largest polluter after oil? Or that it’s estimated that 85 percent of discarded clothes in Canada end up in landfills? The apparel industry is also accountable for 10 percent of global carbon emissions. And though these stats may seem shocking and overwhelming, as consumers we have the power to effect change and make a difference. Avoid the landfill completely by thinking differently about where to take your pre-loved clothing:
Reduce Shop smart and buy less - make quality decisions and invest in pieces that will last multiple seasons. It doesn’t mean you have to spend more, just differently. And if the tags are still on within the return policy… take it back! Do your homework and shop local - understand how brands are manufacturing their product. For example, at Klas squared we strive to create with zero waste. We keep all unused materials including metals that can be melted and reused.
Rewear Own the rewear. Don’t get caught up on whether or not your outfit has been posted on Instagram. Remember that good fashion, like good wine, gets better with time and sometimes a trip to the tailor is all we need. But if it’s in fact time for a breakup try a swap with friends, find a consignment store or donate to places like The Salvation Army and Dress for Success.
Reuse Don’t be afraid to turn old clothing into rags and find creative ways to repurpose textiles.
Recycle If you’ve tried all of the above and are still left with a pile of clothing without a home, bag it and drop it off at H&M. They strive to “close the loop” by reusing and recycling old clothes and giving them new life - you can even get $5 voucher for your effort making everyone a winner.
How are you celebrating Earth Day? Let me know in the comments below how you’re making an impact on taking care of our world.