Some people love buying clothes. It’s so fun to always have something new to wear.
The advent of fast fashion and inexpensive clothes has made it super easy to buy every cute blouse you fall in love with at the store, without a thought as to how long it will last or if it will still be in style a year from now.
However, this mindset is contributing to gross overconsumption of clothing. Where do those clothes end up? Well, in 2018, 17 million tons of textiles went to the landfill.
Obviously, this isn’t the best scenario for the environment. Let’s look instead at how to choose quality, ethically made clothing and how to care for it to make it last longer.
How to Choose Quality Clothing
Having clothing that lasts a long time starts at the clothing store. Fast fashion tends to be cheap because it is made with cheap materials that won’t last long. Many of these factories also don’t pay or treat their employees fairly, but that’s a whole other discussion.
You might not be able to tell if clothing is ethically made by looking at it on the rack, but you can tell if it is quality or not. Turn the garment inside out and check the seams. Do they look strong? If you notice any strings, give them a tug and see if it starts to unravel.
Another surefire sign is to hold the clothing up to the light. If the fabric is thin enough that light is coming through, you can be sure it won’t last very long.
How to Care for Clothing to Make it Last Longer
Having a closet full of quality clothing is the first step to sustainable, slow fashion. The next one is to gently care for your clothing to help it last longer.
These ideas are great even if you aren’t overly worried about contributing to the environment’s landfill problems. We all have that favorite sweater or perfect pair of jeans that fit us just right. These tips can help those beloved pieces of clothing last decades instead of a few months.
Wash It Less Frequently
While washing our clothes is necessary for making friends, most of us probably wash our clothes more often than is really necessary. Tossing your clothes in the wash beats it up pretty good and you shorten the lifespan of your clothes by a little bit every time you do it.
With the exception of clothing worn near the skin like socks and underwear, most clothing doesn’t need to be washed after only one use. If clothing is not visibly dirty, give it the sniff test. If nothing smells out of the ordinary, you’re good to go. You can also hang clothing with a slight odor outside for the wind to freshen it up.
Hang it Out to Dry
Do you know where all that stuff comes from that shows up in your lint trap after you run a load in the dryer? It’s literally little pieces of your clothes that have been beaten and ripped off while your clothes were tumbling in the dryer.
To avoid this problem, hang your clothes out to dry as much as possible. They’ll have a fresh air scent, plus you won’t use as much energy. Just don’t have darker fabrics in the sun as they will fade over time.
Repair Your Clothes
Fast fashion has made it all too easy to just toss a worn piece of clothing and move on. However, a quality piece of clothing that has only lost a button or has a small tear doesn’t deserve to be trashed.
When you buy clothes with buttons, try to stick with those that come with an extra button so you’ll have one that matches. In the event you lose a button, all you have to do is pop on the spare.
Clean it Up Fast
Don’t let stains sit on your clothes for too long. Get them cleaned up quick. Often times the whole garment doesn’t need to be cleaned. Just focus on the spot and shine it up right.
Slow Living Is a Gift
Earth is the only home we get (at least for now) so we need to take care of it. Beyond caring for the environment, slow living is a gift. It gives us the opportunity to slow down and really enjoy aspects of our life — including how soft your favorite sweater feels when you put it on year after year.