A Sustainable Closet
On March 31st, Brussels finally set the keys to systemic reform in the fashion industry. Every European throws away 11kg of clothes every year (1), and every second in the world, a truck full of textiles is dumped in a landfill or incinerated (2).
The EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles contains an extensive content on green ambitions and proposes actions for the entire life cycle of the textile product, from the way how is designed to how is consumed. Some of the measures adopted in the plan include ecodesign, a digital passport, strict controls on greenwashing, action to address the release of microplastics, the application of extended liability regulations, and support for research and innovation, textile regulation of waste exports, or setting specific steps to address these objectives. (3)
The fashion industry involve many actors (from brands, producers, governments, or consumers) who must work together to address the climate consequences that will result from the mismanagement of this industry.
The subject is extensive and complex, and it is extremly necessary to reach the public clearly. What can we do as consumers? How can we reduce our footprint?
Fashion Revolution born out of the "Rana Plaza" disaster when a building where suppliers of about 20 international brands operated collapsed, leaving more than 1,000 dead and more than 2,000 injured. Fashion Revolution was born on April 24, 2013, to involve all these actors, communities, producers, institutions, farmers, journalists…. to create a positive change and ensure greater transparency in the fashion industry. For the first time, the question Who made my clothes? And What’s in my clothes? goes viral.
Focusing on what we as consumers can do, the first step is to be curious and ask the question.
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, research, and act. If something is not clear, ask the question. When you look at a piece of clothing with a cardboard label: "Conscious Collection," and then you look at the composition label: 100% polyester made in China, there is something wrong. Ask the store or brand what the garment has for 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 aside the clothes that you hardly use or never use. It is estimated that an average of 1 piece of clothing is used only 4 times. (4) All the pieces you no longer use can be exchanged, and reused.
4- Make an impact inventory: Look at the composition labels and find out which pieces you have that are most sustainable and transparent. 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.
5- The next time you want to buy a piece of clothing, ask if you need it. If the answer is yes, you can be guided by this pyramid:
- Be Creative: use the pieces you already have, and combine them differently.
- Ask for the garment you need if you can't use any of your closet.
- Look for it in a thrift store (5).
- Do it yourself if you can.
- Rent it (6).
- Buy it in a sustainable brand (7)
6- Lastly, take care of your clothes: Every time we do a washing machine, about 700,000 microfibers (8) come off, which end up in the oceans, which ingest the fish, and finally end up in the food chain. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastics in the sea than fish. What can we do to reduce these numbers ?:
- Avoid washing. Put on strictly necessary washing machines.
- Wash with cold water or at 30 degrees in short programs.
- Do not use the dryer. Spread the clothes.
- Use an ecological detergent.
- Use a Microfiber catcher like the “Cora Ball” or “Guppyfriend Bag”.
Unfortunately, the fashion industry faces one of the most polluting and social inequalities in the production chain, far from decreasing.
We live as if we had 2 planets, with a prediction of 10 billion people by 2050. We have limited resources, and we are limited by the existing territory. Fashion can't be oblivious to 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>
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>