The Sustainable Clothing Goals

Happy New Year everyone!
​This is Philippa again, guest blogging for Ismay while she has her Christmas break.It’s that time of year to be thinking of New Year’s resolutions, what changes to make to your personal development or lifestyle or at least make some attempt to change something!  I had a prompt recently from the Ethical Consumer asking what New Year’s resolutions I had in terms of saving people and the planet. I do have a few resolutions; one resolution is to phase out completely the use of plastic bags on a community allotment that I’m very involved with.  Why use plastic bags? Well, we need something to carry home the vegetables that we’ve grown. Why not use cloth bags? Well, the vegetables certainly at this time of year tend to be caked in mud so we would need to wash the cloth bags every time we used them which given the volume of mud involved is not easily done!  Why not wash the vegetables before taking them home? Well, the water on the allotments is currently switched off for winter and we probably won’t have water again until April. Why not use a box? Well, boxes that are easily washed tend to be plastic! And so, it goes on. I’m sure one day there will be a solution however it will probably take a while to get there. Clearly, we need to think about this problem a bit more.If any of you need some inspiration in terms of wishing to make changes with your clothing habits, I wondered how many of you had heard of the Sustainable Clothing Goals? These goals are taken from two major reports, The Public Understanding of Sustainable Clothing (1) and Well Dressed? The Present and Future Sustainability of Clothing and Textiles in the United Kingdom. (2).  I’ve put the goals from both reports together to make the following below. (The actual goals are in italics, I have then commented on them).

1. Buy Second-hand clothing where possible. Buying second-hand clothing prolongs the life of garments, giving them a new lease of life.
2. Buy fewer more durable garments. In contrast to fast fashion where cheap garments are often worn very little, then discarded, invest more in your wardrobe by buying fewer garments but ones that are of better quality so that the garments last for much longer.
3. Hire clothing that would otherwise not be worn to the end of their natural life. Many items of clothing, particularly occasion wear is bought for one event and often not used again. Perhaps think more about hiring an item rather than buying particularly for special occasions.
4. Wash clothes at lower temperature and using eco-detergents, hang-dry them and avoid ironing where possible. These three goals are all about saving energy as the care of clothing does take a phenomenal amount of energy during their lifetime. Washing at 30 degrees is also good for garments as it helps to retain the original colour for longer.
5. Buy clothing that is sustainable. “Sustainable clothing” is quite a large category which covers both the ethical treatment of clothing workers and clothes made from more environmentally-friendly materials such as organic natural fibres and recycled materials.
6. Repair or adapt clothing to prolong its life, and return/recycle it at the end of its life /when you no longer want it. Obviously the longer the clothes are kept the better, so looking after clothing and repairing when necessary can keep a garment in use. Adapting garments such as changing a pair of favourite jeans into a pair of shorts also prolong a garment’s life. When finished with a garment, there are different ways to recycle such as donating to a charity shop or selling a garment or passing on a garment to someone else. Repurposing can be a good idea too. I once heard of someone who took pairs of jeans that people no longer wanted and turned them into handbags.

I hope that this list gives you some inspiration for the coming year, the goals may look relatively straight forward but I know from research (and experience!) that life tends to be more complex. Just as my allotment example demonstrated a simple aim in practice turns out not to be so simple after all.

Whatever your new year resolutions are, I wish you the best of luck. If you have any thoughts about the sustainable clothing goals, I would be very interested and happy to hear them.

(1) Fisher, T. Cooper, T. Woodward, S. Hiller, A. Goworek, H. (2008) Public Understanding of Sustainable Clothing: A report to the Department for Environment, London, Food and Rural Affairs, Defra.
(2) Allwood et al, (2006) Well Dressed? The Present and Future Sustainability of clothing and textiles in the United Kingdom, Cambridge, University of Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing

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