At Pac-Rat, our priority is to help people live more sustainably. And, not only live sustainably, but wear sustainably! By that, we mean buying, wearing, washing, and recycling clothing in a way that helps the earth. It’s a concept that seems pretty hard to achieve because the fashion industry contributes to 10% of all global emissions. Did you know that’s more emissions than all international flights and shipping combined? Crazy, right?
The current fashion industry also wastes water that families could otherwise use, pollutes local water sources, and degrades soil. The biggest perpetrator of this is fast fashion brands like Rue 21 and others you’ve likely heard of. The result is cheaply made products that degrade after only a few washes. This leads to them being thrown out after only a few wears! The trends also change so quickly that garments bought one week are out of style in just a short amount of time. To keep up with trends, this leads to exploitative labor with dangerous working conditions, in addition to problems stated earlier.
The large amount of production and revolving trends leads to a large amount of waste! Just how much waste? Well, 92 million tons to be exact. Yes, you read that correctly. To help illustrate just how much waste that actually is, just imagine your local garbage truck. Now, imagine it dropping off a load of textiles to be burned every single second – for an entire year.
As easy and tempting as going to Rue 21 to buy a cute $10 shirt may seem, wearing and caring for clothes sustainably can be just as easy! At Pac-Rat, we are experts at living sustainably so just leave it to us! We’ve got the top 4 ways you can contribute to a healthier earth and look good while doing it.
Start with what you already own!
There’s tons of ways to upcycle what you already have! If you’re not feeling a certain item, can you tie dye it? Turn a pair of jeans into shorts? If you have a hard time coming up with ways to upcycle what you already have, just look at this project for inspiration!
If you have no interest in upcycling and just need garments gone, there are sustainable ways to do that too. For starters, you can consign your items with us to make a little extra cash on the side! Or, you can donate them, have a garage sale, or have a clothing swap with your friends. Here’s a guide to help you responsibly recycle or get rid of your clothes.
Another way to prevent yourself from constantly cycling through clothes due to low quality fabrics, is to protect them! Instead of putting your clothing in the dryer after you wash them, air dry them! Using washing machines and dryers makes the fabric degrade at a higher rate. You can also try to hand wash delicate items.
This is perhaps our favorite option because we are used clothing aficionados. Not only have these clothes avoided going into the landfill, but they also provide the opportunity for someone else to reuse them. This eliminates demand from the fast fashion industry. Both steps reduced waste, and reduced the amount of resources needed to create new items. If shopping at thrift stores isn’t something you’re used to, here’s some tips to get you started!
And, Covid-19 doesn’t even have to stop you! There are tons of online thrift stores like Poshmark, Ebay, ThreadUP, Depop, and The Real Real. This way you can thrift from the safety and comfort of your own home!
Look for natural fibers
Materials like polyester, nyon, vinyl, vegan “leather”, are all different words for the same thing – plastic. Which means that when they break down, they turn into microplastics that pollute the water. They’re also unsustainably made.
And, since they’re made of synthetic materials, they are more susceptible to damage by heat. So, to prevent them burning up in the dryer, they are further coated in flame retardants. Flame retardants are not healthy for the environment, or the humans wearing them.
Instead, try to look for garments made from materials like cotton, hemp, linen, bamboo, and wool. They are typically made with comparatively more sustainable methods, use less water, and can be composted at the end of their life.
Support slow fashion brands and timeless pieces!
Several clothing brands have really stepped up their game in the sustainable fashion industry. These brands offer more transparency into their business practices, more sustainable production methods, and more quality materials. They also make sure environmental precautions are being met and ensure that their working conditions are safe, fair, and offer livable wages to their employees. Levi’s, a universally recognized brand, is taking steps towards these practices. Other brands like Eileen Fisher, Theory, and Outerknown also practice sustainable business practices.
Beware – fast fashion brands often like to use “sustainability” in their marketing campaigns. It’s one thing to use the word sustainability, and another to actually practice sustainability. If a brand touts sustainability, it’s best to do some research into their claims to make sure they are true.
Clothing made with natural fibers and sustainable practices tends to be more expensive, which can be cost prohibitive. But, if you think about it, it naturally makes you question whether or not you really need it. Or, how much you’ll actually wear it, and if it’s worth the money. Items like these tend to be taken better care of and cherished for a longer period of time. And, although higher quality items tend to cost more – again, you can score a high quality wool coat at a thrift store like Pac-Rat just as easily as a t-shirt. The possibilities are endless!