The impact of fast fashion is widespread and is becoming increasingly difficult to manage. Second only to the production and distribution of oil, fast fashion is devastating the natural environment. While the industry is slowly making steps towards mitigating a potential global disaster, there are steps we can all take to lessen the colossal number of items currently produced across the world to meet demand.

Investing in well-made, sustainably manufactured pieces, which are produced in a way that is kind to the environment is one of the best ways to ensure less harmful fashion is made. Secondly, consciously looking after each piece of clothing you have will mean every item lasts and isn’t discarded back into the environment. While it’s true no piece of clothing will last forever, we can take steps to ensure our wardrobes last.

One of the best ways to ensure your wardrobe lasts is to fix slight tears and abrasions with a needle and thread or sewing machine. Although many of us are less accustomed to mending our clothes these days, it really can mean the difference between a perfectly good garment and one that’s binned. Ask any older relative or browse YouTube for tutorials on how to fix damaged fabrics.

Another key to keeping your clothes in tip-top condition is washing and storing them properly. While some items will need a thorough clean, such as gym gear and undergarments, most clothing will benefit from being washed less intensely. It’s important not to over-wash clothes, an average washing machine uses an equal amount of water as we drink in our lifetime. Spot washing and hand washing can ensure you use much less water and only wash part of a garment that needs washing. If you do have to use your machine, use as low a temperature as possible to ensure the fabric doesn’t lose colour, stretch, shrink or tear. If you need to machine wash a very delicate item, invest in a few cotton wash bags, these will ensure items stay protected while being washed.

Similarly, ensuring clothes are completely dry before storing will mean the fabric doesn’t develop mildew which can be impossible to shift. Make sure you hang clothes on sturdy hangers and folded clothes are neatly tucked away so neither lose their shape while not being worn. If you need to store expensive clothes, a fabric clothes bag will safeguard the fabric from moths, dust and damp while being stored.

Inevitably, when you do need to dispose of a piece of clothing, think carefully before donating to a charity shop as many are already brimming with items to sell. Only donate items you think would sell and anything else take to a designated clothes recycling point where the item will be responsibly taken care of.

Ultimately, being mindful of how you look after your clothes from buying to washing and storing, will mean your garments will keep for longer which is great for your wallet as well as the environment. Adopting a slower approach to fashion will mean your investments will last and the demand for fast fashion will likely diminish. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to create a simpler and sustainable way of dressing. Our precious environment will only thank us.

Words by Ella Neish.

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