Everyday Enviro with Elise: encourages us to repair and rewear

Everyday Enviro with Elise: encourages us to repair and rewear

By Elise Catterall  November 9th, 2022

Cutting down emissions from the fashion industry could be as easy as adjusting our fashion style to prioritise wardrobe longevity.


We all know that the fashion industry contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions. One way to minimise that impact is to commit to wearing our clothing multiple times.

Fast fashion clothing worn less than five times produces 400% more carbon emissions than clothes worn 50 times. But what if your clothing doesn’t last to be worn 50 times? Clothes of lower quality probably won’t make it that far, which is why it is so important to buy high quality clothing. It is also important to consider the many ways you can extend the life of your clothing.

First and foremost there needs to be a mindset shift with regards to how we view our wardrobe. We need to:

  • rid ourselves of the belief that it’s a bad thing to wear the same thing regularly.

  • shake the attitude that we should buy something new for every new event or outing.

  • see the value in investing in quality garments.

  • change our mindset about caring for the clothes we own.

Much of what is listed above has fallen out of fashion (pardon the pun) over the last half a century or so, whether due to us being so much more time poor or due to the sheer accessibility of cheap clothing. Either way, it is seen as easier to buy new socks if we get a hole than go to the time and effort of darning them.

The second change we need to make to extend the life of your clothing is to look after it – really look after it. No matter how much the item cost you, treat it as if it cost a fortune. This means:

  • Hanging clothes up after wearing.

  • Using good quality hangers to avoid damaging the clothing.

  • Putting all those accumulated silica sachets to use in your wardrobe to absorb fabric damaging moisture.

  • Washing clothes less frequently - instead spot clean as needed, hang up to air out between washes, wear certain items designated for cooking or yard work that don’t matter if they get oil or grass stains.

  • Washing clothes inside-out to preserve colour (this is a great way to keep jeans from fading too much or too fast) and selecting the right washing cycle for the material (for example a delicate cycle for delicate fabrics).

  • Air drying clothes as much as possible and limiting the use of a tumble dryer (better for your clothes, the environment and your electricity bill).

The next step is to get yourself a good quality sewing kit. Mending is not only a great way to extend the life of an item, but can also be quite enjoyable. Especially if you are able (and willing) to get a bit creative with the mending, with patches, for example. If you don’t know where to start, a quick google will reveal sewing classes you can attend in person or online to learn, like this one in Sydney.

Beyond these simple changes, you can also get creative. If your clothes are faded or stained, if the colour is out of fashion or you just feel like a change, you can dye them. Just ensure you get a low impact/non toxic dye. You can alter them for a better fit by adding panels or removing fabric. To refresh clothes no longer in fashion you can alter them to change the length or decorate them. All of these suggestions were typical behaviours not that long ago. It shouldn’t take too much effort to make them typical again.

Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.


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Elise Catterall

Elise is a writer, photographer, and naturopath with a passion for nature. She completed a Master of Public Health in 2017 through the University of Sydney. Her photographic work focuses on flowers and plants as a way of celebrating nature. She has been writing for Planet Ark since 2017, sharing positive environment stories, personal environmental experiences and perspectives.

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