Since it's Textiles Tuesday, a day devoted to sustainable fashion and design, we thought it would be a great time to go over our team's favourite ways to keep our clothes in rotation!
As fast fashion continues to plague our earth by means of water, air, and land pollution, it is important to resist the temptation of single digit prices and instead learn to keep the clothes which are already in circulation.
It is not only important to know how to / where to get your clothes mended or upcycled when they are damaged, but it is equally, if not more, important to learn how to properly take care of clothes based on which fabric they are, so that they last longer as they were originally designed. So, let's start with how to prevent damage in the first place, shall we?
Washing Techniques - by Fabric
One of the best ways to maintain your wardrobe for a long time is to learn how to properly wash your clothes. Different types of fabric require different washing methods, which can often be found on the label of your clothes! For your reference, you can find the various washing directions listed on labels at this link.
Denim - When it comes to jeans or denim-wear, you don't actually need to wash them very often. Washing denim too much can cause it to wear down faster, and this is the type of treatment that leads to tears and fading. If your jeans need a "wash", but are not stained or overly dirty, you can instead opt to put them in your freezer! The cold temperature leaves the jeans crisp and fresh, without the wear of the washing machine, harsh detergent chemicals, and dryer.
Polyester - If possible, you should try to leave more time in between washes of polyester garments, or other garments which are made of synthetic fabrics, as this will help to extend their lifetime. Synthetic fabrics give off microplastics, which are very small pieces of plastic that are washed off of clothing, and that go into the water system.
Wool: Woolmark, a wool company, recommends using a wool setting (or cold wash on the delicate setting) when washing in a machine. They also recommend using a neutral detergent to avoid harsh chemicals.
Cotton: If the cotton is delicate, such as lace or a thin fabric, we recommend washing by hand or on a delicate cycle. however, regular cotton garments can usually be washed on any setting.
A note on temperature washing:
There is a myriad of reasons to wash on the cold setting, and the top three for Eco are that the cold setting saves on energy (90% of energy used in a wash cycle is often used on heating the water), helps your clothes last longer, and prevents instances of colour bleeding or wrinkling.
One of our resident fabric experts, Gail, gave us a few great tips on how to prevent moths in your favourite knitwear! In her words:
"There are two simple rules to prevent the heart-break of moth damage:
- Put your knitwear away clean.
- Use a barrier layer to prevent moth larvae from reaching your sweaters. Plastic can trap moisture, cause condensation and encourage mould growth on textiles. Protective cotton storage bags are easy to make from leftover fabrics. Tightly woven unbleached cotton or printed quilt fabrics work best."
Another great way to avoid moths, recommended by Real Simple, is to spray cedar oil in the corners of your closet, or to pour some of this essential oil into a diffuser in the storage area. Moths are repelled by this scent and are less likely to eat your clothes if you use it.
Some other scents that you can use are: lavender, rosemary, cloves, bayleaves, and thyme. Real Simple says that you can either use essential oils, or mix these ingredients in a mesh bag and keep it in your drawer with the clothes.
There are many ways to repair a garment, both visibly and invisibly, so that your can continue to wear it for years to come!
Our first ever Repair-It-Yourself Series comes to a close tonight, and we have been learning some great methods of repairing your own clothes.
Replacing buttons: This is a great option when it comes to saving a pair of jeans, or even revitalizing a button-up shirt! As fantastic as it looks to replace a button with a new one similar to the lost one, it can also be fun to replace it with a funky, statement button. This can give the garment a fun, new look in a simple, and easily replaceable way!
Patching a hole: The best thing about this method of repair is how versatile it is! You can learn to patch invisibly, or do a more visible mend, and use a fun fabric or darning technique.
Darning knitwear: Darning is a methodical, stitch-based form of mending where one uses a darning needle and egg to hand-sew a new section of the garment, thus covering the hole that was left. This can be done with a matching yarn, or a completely different coloured one!
Upcycling is a fun, innovative way to turn garments into new creations. You can turn a pair of jeans into a tote bag, two sweaters into one, or just add an extra flourish to a garment you already own.
Our first Upcycle Workshop is in full swing, with another run of it open for registration now! In this class, you can learn how to turn two of your own garments into a brand new item!
One of the best parts of upcycling is that there are so many ways to get inspired and learn! There are endless online resources on across social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, and YouTube, as well as independent bloggers! Just search up the technique or style you are curious about and you are sure to find a great resource! Some of our favourite upcycling content creators are:
Paint A New Design!
Learning the skill of fabric painting can be an excellent way to breathe new life into your wardrobe. Whether you are covering up a stain/discolouration caused by too many washes, or just wanting to give your garment a fresh look, adding a little paint can go a long way!
At EcoEquitable, we host a couple of our own Fabric Painting classes, where you can learn the basics of the art so that you can go forward into your own projects with confidence and skill. Our two upcoming Fabric Painting Classes are: Learn to Sew and Fabric Paint, and Fabric Painting Class - Baseball Cap.
Here are a couple of examples of Fabric Painting projects:
What To Do If You're Not Into DIY?
The onus of cleaning up fast fashion's mess should not only fall on the shoulders of the average person, but should be taken on by our governments as well as the brands which are causing harm in the first place.
One Vancouver MP, Don Davies, has introduced a bill to parliament, calling upon the government to create a Strategy for Sustainable Textiles. This bill was introduced in June, and with Parliament back from their summer break, we at Eco hope to see some forward movement with it. You can read more about this in our blog post, Vancouver's Textile Waste Reduction Bill. In addition to our government, we should also be looking towards the brands which claim they are doing a lot for the environment.
H&M is an excellent example of a brand which looks like it is practicing sustainable methods through their Rewear program, but which is actually reinforcing the ideas of overconsumption and buying new clothes for cheaper. On the H&M website, they have a section where any individual can sign up to resell their own clothes on the company's platform. However, when it comes to payment, these are the options: "15% of selling price will be deducted by Rewear. If you choose to get paid with an H&M gift card, you will receive an increase of 20% on your selling price" - H&M Rewear. Do you see the problem?
Rather than promoting the idea of reuse, the company tempts potential sellers (*customers*) with extra money on a gift card to their own store. This reinforces the idea that buying new clothes for low cost is a positive thing, when we know that the belief that cheaper is better is one that perpetuates low pay for garment workers. As individuals, we have the power to take away these covetous opportunities for companies like H&M, and instead practice truly circular fashion while demanding that big companies do better.
To practice reuse of garments, and save some money, we at Eco recommend doing clothing swaps with your friends! A clothing swap is when each person brings one or two wearable items, and folks swap for something someone else brings! It's free, and a great excuse to get together with friends.
If you would like to resell, we recommend donating your clothes to small, local thrift shops, such as Thrive Thrift.
A great way to hold larger brands accountable is to talk with people you know about the greenwashing that occurs. Raising awareness about the lack of fair wages and the innumerable environmental atrocities isd a great way to deter more people from supporting big brands until they make real policy changes to their operations.
You can track how sustainable your favourite brands are by using the website Good On You. They rate thousands of fashion brands on a scale of "We Avoid" to "Great" and track everything from how transparent brands are, to how much their workers get paid, and what their environmental impact is.
These are just a few options, and we would love to hear from you about what you do to practice sustainable fashion in every day life! Leave a comment below and let us know!
Written by: A. B. Hart