A Sustainable Closet
On March 31st, Brussels finally set the keys to systemic reform in the fashion industry. Each European throws away 11kg of clothes every year (1), and every second, a truck full of textiles is buried or burned (2).
The EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles contains extensive content on green ambitions and proposes actions for the entire life cycle of a textile product, from its design to its disposal. This plan includes ecodesign, a digital passport, strict controls on greenwashing, actions to address microplastics, the application of extended liability regulations, and support for research and innovation, textile regulation of waste exports, or the setting of specific objectives. (3)
Fashion industry actors (including brands, producers, governments, and consumers) must work together to address climate change consequences caused by mismanagement.
The subject is extensive and complex, so communicating clearly is extremely important. What can we do as consumers? Are there any options for reducing our carbon footprint?
After the Rana Plaza building collapsed, more than 1,000 people were killed and more than 2,000 injured. On April 24, 2013, the Fashion Revolution was launched to involve all these actors, including communities, producers, institutions, farmers, journalists, etc., with the goal of bringing greater transparency to the fashion industry. The questions: "Who made my clothes?" and "What's in my clothes?" went viral for the first time.
Asking the question and being curious are the first steps we can take as consumers.
Here I leave some tips to having a “sustainable closet,” taking responsibility for our actions to address the necessary systemic change among all of us:
1- Be curious, ask questions, do research, and take action. Ask questions if something is unclear. An item of clothing with a cardboard label that says "Conscious Collection" and then a composition label that says 100% polyester made in China, is misleading. Check with the store or brand to see if the garment falls under the "Conscious Collection" category.
2- Open your closet and start with the organization: Sort your clothes by categories, fabrics, colors… A tidy closet will help to remind you what you have and the next time you need something, it will be easier to find it.
3- Tidy Up: Put away clothes you rarely or never wear. An average piece of clothing is worn only four times. (4) You can exchange and reuse all the pieces you no longer use.
4- Assess your impact inventory by looking at the composition labels and finding the pieces with the most sustainable and transparent compositions. You will be amazed! Start by understanding how complex clothing is. From now on, be more aware about the real impact when purchasing new clothes.
Ask yourself if you need that piece of clothing the next time you want to buy it. The following pyramid can guide you if your answer is yes:
- Be creative: combine the pieces you already have in different ways.
- Ask for the garment you need if you cannot find it in your closet.
- You can find it at a thrift store (5).
- If you can, do it yourself.
- Rent it (6).
- Invest in a sustainable brand (7)
In addition, keep your clothes clean: Every time you wash your clothes, about 700,000 microfibers (8) are emitted into the ocean, where they get eaten by fish. It is estimated that by 2050, the sea will contain more plastic than fish. What can we do to reduce these numbers? :
- Avoid washing. Only use washing machines if necessary.
- Keep the water temperature at 30 degrees or use cold water.
- Avoid using the dryer. Spread the clothes out.
- Use an eco-friendly detergent.
- Use a Microfiber catcher such as the "Cora Ball" or "Guppyfriend Bag".
Fashion is one of the most polluting and inequitable industries in the production chain, which is far from improving.
Currently, we live as if there are two planets, with 10 billion people predicted by 2050. We have limited resources, and we are limited by the existing territory. The fashion industry cannot ignore it.
1- Parlamento Europeo, El Impacto de la producción textil y de los residuos en el medio ambiente, 29 diciembre 2020, <https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/es/headlines/so- ciety/20201208STO93327/el-impacto-de-la-produccion-textil-y-de-los-residuos-en-el-me- dio-ambiente>
2- Naciones Unidas, Noticias ONU, 12 abril 2019, <https://news.un.org/es/story/ 2019/04/1454161>
3- Pubaffairsbruxelles,Questions and Answers on EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles, 31 march 2022, <https://www.pubaffairsbruxelles.eu/questions-and-answers-on- eu-strategy-for-sustainable-and-circular-textiles-eu-commission-press/>
4- Humana, Fundación Pueblo para Pueblo, Comprar moda secondhand evita el consu- mo de millones de prendas nueva, 10 junio 2019, <https://www.humana-spain.org/quie- nes-somos/comunicacion/noticias/comprar-moda-secondhand-evita-el-consumo-anual- de-millones-de-prendas-nuevas-en-espana/es>
5- <https://percentil.com/> / <https://www.vinted.es/> / <https://www.robaamiga.cat/ca/> / <https://www.koopera.org/>
6- <https://www.skfk-ethical-fashion.com/> / <https://ecodicta.com/> /
7- <https://ethicaltime.com/?lang=ca> / <https://thecircularproject.com/marcas-2/><https://www.carrodecombate.com/2020/09/27/directorio-de-moda-sostenible-en- espana/> / <https://esmodasostenible.org/marcas-amse/>
8- ScienceDirect, Release of Synthetic microplastic plastic fibres from domestic washing machines: Effects of fabric tope and washing conditions, 15November 2016 <www.scien- cedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0025326X16307639?via%3Dihub>