Have you looked at a $4 tshirt, the kind you can pick up at most department stores these days and contemplated how on earth they can make a garment so cheap? Astonishingly according to the Worldwide Fund for Nature it takes 2700 litres of water to make that one tshirt – enough for a single person to drink for 900 days.
The fast fashion fad has lead to Australians currently disposing of 6,000 kilograms of fashion and textile waste every 10 minutes. Many of these are synthetic fabrics that break down into micro plastics once in landfill — not great for the soil or waterways they wash into. The cheap pieces are purposely designed to wear out so you keep buying them and the endless release of fashion items from season to season pops you on a merry-go-round that is hard to escape!
A simple way to reduce your fashion waste impact is to buy pre-loved items. This is also a lot of fun! Visiting op shops is a treasure hunt — some days you may come home with nothing, other days you find that item, one you would never find in the cookie cutter stores of a suburban shopping centre. And obviously the price is right too and that is one less piece of clothing that ends up in landfill.
Add to that the fact you are helping to keep people who would otherwise struggle to find work employed and it is a far more positive experience than contemplating the fate of the Darling River or wondering about the state of the children who probably made that $4 tshirt.
Locally, we have the Treasure Trove op shop at Gingin (30 Weld St) and the Adra Op Shop in Bindoon on the highway.
If you are looking for a specific item, eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace are fantastic. You can set up alerts for what you are after and the price is often negotiable. Garage sales and swapmeets are another great source of pre-loved clothing.
If the thought of wearing second-hand clothes doesn’t appeal to you (as someone once said to me – ‘I don’t want to wear a dead guy’s shoes!’), then I would suggest keeping the phrase “Buy once, buy well” in mind when shopping and also do some research into ethical brands. The $100 jeans might seem like a big outlay but will fare you better than the $10 pair.
The 30 Wears Campaign is a great movement designed for purchasers to ask themselves the question “Will I wear this at least 30 times?” before buying an item. It might not seem like a lot, but if you wore the same top once a week it would take over seven months for you to hit the 30 wears. Can you see yourself still loving that item in seven months time, or the following year’s season? Will it even last 30 rounds in the washing machine? No? Then probably best to leave it on the shelf.
Don’t buy items that don’t quite fit right, have care instructions that are too complicated so you just don’t wear them, need ironing etc.
This might seem like a lot of analysis to put into buying clothing but it is worth it in the long run, and not just for the environment. Having only those pieces in your wardrobe that you know fit, look great and are ready to wear reduces the daily stress of finding something to wear.