SECOND LIFE OF CLOTHES
“Fast fashion” is cheap, addictive and harmful to the environment. Clothing companies introduce new collections to the stores several times a month, which results in tons of clothes that no one wants, which later end up on a landfill. Clothes that were made using enormous amounts of energy, water and other resources.
Fast production does not go hand in hand with quality—clothes quickly get damaged, washed out and end up in a bin. Many clothes that instantaneously go out of fashion also end up on a landfill. Made of plant- or animal‑based fibres, they decompose and generate methane. Clothes made of synthetic fibres, like plastic, decompose over a period as long as several hundred years. Moreover, before the fibres become clothes, they are bleached, dyed, chemically cleaned… these chemicals can be washed out during decomposition, pollute the soil and enter groundwaters.
For the environment (and our finances), it’s more beneficial to make clothes last longer. How? There are many methods:
Think about what you buy! Don’t just follow what’s fashionable. Invest in good quality; clothes made of natural fabrics will last longer. Pass them on! If you don’t want to wear a sweater your grandmother gave you, or if the colour of your dress seems boring to you, maybe your friends can benefit from this? Swap Parties have become increasingly popular. Look for groups for swapping clothes and accessories on social media.
Textile upcycling (upcycling means reusing raw materials, not just clothes): you can change the function of a piece of clothing by making e.g. winter pet clothes from a sweater, or transform an old pair of jeans into shorts.
Popular second‑hand stores save unwanted clothes. You can often buy good‑quality items there, sometimes even new.
Unwanted clothes are also being used by the industry. For example, cotton clothes are used as cleaning cloths in the construction industry (they absorb moisture and are good for wiping grease and paint smudges), damaged mohair is remade into carpets, while recycled non‑woven fabrics are used by furniture companies to make mattresses and furniture upholstery.