The front rows are packed with pouts and dark glasses, eagerly awaiting a stream of marching models dressed in this season’s styles. London Fashion Week is in business and soon enough these trends will be trickling down to a high street near you, but is all this fast fashion costing us the earth? We’ve got the lowdown and some ideas to lessen your impact.
The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimates that an eye-watering £140m worth of clothes goes into UK landfill each year. Wowzers! No wonder the clothing sector has a size XXL carbon footprint. It generates 10% of all global carbon emissions and is second only to the oil industry as the biggest industrial polluter.
If that sounds less than stylish, here’s what you can do. Before you buy something new, take a minute. Hiring an outfit for a big do, swapping clothes with friends and seeking out quality pre-loved threads are all good alternatives.
When you do buy new, consider spending a little more on something that’s well made and sustainably produced. And whatever’s in your wardrobe, look after it properly and it will last you so much longer.
Take good care of your clobber
Wash less – Wash-loads gobble water and electricity and spit microfibres out into the environment. They also fade colours and cause clothes to loose their shape. Before you toss that t-shirt into the laundry, check it really needs a clean. Airing it for a day or using a garment steamer to refresh it will do instead. Our handy guide to garment steamers has the low down if you want more info.
Careful cleansing – Get down with your washing instructions, turn the temperature down, use a mesh bag to protect delicates and wash dark clothes inside out to preserve colour. If an item only has a mark, spot clean it instead of chucking it in the machine.
Be kind when you dry – Using the tumble-dryer doesn’t just put strain on your clothes by shrinking and fading them, all that electricity puts a strain on the environment. Air dry as much as possible.
Iron with care – Hands up if you’ve ever scorched a shirt when you’ve ironed in a hurry. Yep, us too. Choose a good quality iron, select the right heat setting and stay focussed!
A stitch in time – Darning socks, turning collars and patching tears used to be the norm but with clothes so cheap, it’s not the done thing anymore. Get like granny and make do and mend to save money, rescue favourite items and stop more landfill. If you’re not sure how, the guys at loveyourclothes.org.uk have some great vids to watch.
Upcycle – Unleash your inner designer to give clothes a new lease of life. Style up a coat or cardie with new buttons and other embellishments, and repurpose items by turning trousers into shorts or saving an old shirt for decorating in. If sewing leaves you in knots, hunt down your nearest seamstress or tailor for help.
Love your clothes and they’ll love you back – and so will the planet. That’s never going out of style.