Well Halloween has come and gone now, and in the following weeks we are all sure to feel our clothing get a lliiiittttllleee tighter, especially with Thanksgiving (for our American neighbours) and Christmas around the corner.
So lets talk clothes this week! In a three-part series I hope to share with you guys the importance of Minding your closet and the detrimental effects the Fast Fashion industry has on our environment. This first post will be about the EASIEST and CHEAPEST way to have a sustainable closet.
1. The Garment/Fast Fashion industry (ie. clothing which is a “steal” bargain or super trendy) is the SECOND largest polluting industry next to Big Oil.
2. The FIRST place to start creating a sustainable wardrobe is to take care of what you already own. Don’t rush out to buy new ethical brands or sustainable fabrics to replace your existing items, that is expensive and wasteful. Buy QUALITY DETERGENT free of phosphates and harmful surfactants which can impact aquatic life in freshwater and saltwater ecosystems. Brands like Seventh Generation, ECOS, Mrs. Meyers and Nellies Laundry Soap are both affordable and effective!
3. Make your clothing LAST by pre-treating stains with concentrated laundry detergent (no need for special pre-treating products) and wash dark coloured things like denim inside out to protect their colour.
4. Mix up your wardrobe! Check out Pinterest for outfit ideas and put together new outfits with your existing wardrobe. I do this ALL THE TIME, too often if you ask my Husband, but I get that “new outfit feels” when I get to try a different combination out.
So! For the rest of you who can stick around, keep reading to find out how I started out my sustainable wardrobe journey with tips and tricks that worked for me. The rest of you? Get back to work 😉
I will be the first to admit that I am not the most fashionable person… Yep.. I love me a comfortable pair of jeans and a t-shirt and converse runners. Which in some ways makes sustainable fashion easy and difficult at the same time. When I began this I tried to keep in mind two things:
Keeping my existing wardrobe was the best option! I found a similar Ethical Closet guide like the one created by into-mind.com and I use it regularly to help me stay on track.
I surveyed my closet. Know thy enemy! I regularly take an afternoon to sort through my clothes. I donate what I am not wearing anymore and make a list of staple pieces I would like to replace or add to my wardrobe. This prevents me from impulse shopping during moments of “I have nothing to wear” or “Ohhh… that’s a good deal….”
When I first started thinking about my closet I was worried I wouldn’t be able to make many changes; however, I took a couple simple steps which helped me figure out where and what I could improve on while also cluttering and organizing.
First I surveyed my closet. How many pieces have I owned for 2+ years? 3+ years? 5+ years? A large part of sustainability is resisting the temptation of fast fashion (ie trends, impulse shopping, and brands which have great prices but terrible track records for quality) So keeping clothing for a long time requires them to be durable and timeless.
If they still looked great, I turned the hanger around (this is step one, and I come back to this later.) If they didn’t or didn’t fit, I donated them. I was fairly surprised to see that much of my closet was full of long-term pieces (considering I wasn’t a big spender and I love a good sale)
Second, I surveyed the amount of clothing I had received secondhand. Did they still fit? In style? Misshapen or pilled? After conducting this survey, I turned the keeps hangers around and donated the rest.
Third, I looked at my closet to see what was left (easy to spot since some hangers were turned around! Ah see! I told you I had a plan!) I surveyed these. Where did they come from? Are they still in style? What kind of shape are they in? Not surprisingly what these pieces were, were the “fast fashion” pieces purchased over the past year. These pieces were brands like Joe Fresh, H&M, and Le Chateau. They hadn’t kept their shape well or had pilled badly. Some looked okay, and I decided that they got to join the “long term” clothes, but would receive better care in the future.
The same kinds of surveys were conducted with my t-shirt collection, sock and underwear drawers and what I was left with were two medium sized bags of donations and about two dozen empty hangers. What had I accomplished? Well beyond organizing and purging my closest, I became cognizant of my wardrobe. What many of us take for granted in the access we have to clothing, and its immediacy at stores.
Now I was prepared to replace clothing with sustainable items and knew what essentials I already had in my closet. Next, taking care of what I had.
Now, I have always used a “earth-friendly” detergent. In our house we use ECOS brand liquid soap because it is affordable (from Costco) and effective for our needs- not a ton of stains or spills. We also ditched the dryer sheets, scented beads and fabric softener years ago after finding out that they not only contain chemicals (similar to those in detergent) which pollute waterways, but they can damage fabrics like nylon, spandex, elastic (basically everything athletic oriented), microfiber and microfiber blends. Not only that, they cause build-up on clothing which discolouurs whites and dulls colours. AND lastly, for many people the fragrance and softening properties irritate skin and allergies. So not only do the shorten the life of your clothes, but are irritating in multiple ways.
So I am guessing many of your are going “But… but… I like the smell of fresh laundry…”
Solution? Felted dryer balls! We have two that we use and I put 3-5 drops of essential oil on them once a month to impart a nice smell on to our clothes. The felt removes any static too. My Sister asked if the oils stained our clothes at all and I would have to say no, I haven’t seen any! When I add the oil, I always let it soak in a little before throwing them into the dryer.
I bought these at FAVOURITE Gifts in North Vancouver (you can find them on Facebook) for I think $5.00 each. Well worth it considering that a box of dryer sheets run about $4.00-$9.00 per box and only last 120 washes. I have had my felt balls for 2+ years, so well worth the $10.00.
Next week we will talk about the Do’s and Don’ts of shopping for vintage or thrift clothes and one of my best kept secrets: consignment stores. Our last post of this three part series will talk about what to look for in sustainable clothing brands and who some of my favourites are.
Here are some links which I found helpful! Hopefully they will be to you too!
So, here is comes! A second post, whoohooo! Yay go me! haha! I have been trying to balance school-studying and blogging unsuccessfully, so I hope to get a better pattern down in the future! But here is the goal: every post will have a “Gist” section at the beginning which will outline the simple key facts of the post in 1-5 points. If you have time, or are interested keep reading for the details. Otherwise, take the info and run with it!
Edison Bulbs: Super Fashionable, Not Super Efficient. Check out LED Edison styles!
LED bulbs such as this 60W Equivalent Daylight bulb by EcoSmart only uses 10W or 83% less energy than a incandescent bulb. Additionally the manufacturer says it lasts up to 22.8 years (based on 3 hours/day).
LED light bulbs have been on the market for a few years now, but haven’t really caught on. In Canada incandescent light bulbs were banned and phased out about 5-6 years ago and replaced with CFL’s or compact fluorescent lights – those curly light bulbs.
LED’s are versatile and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes for all applications. Regular lamp style bulbs are available in addition to vintage Edison styles, globe, candelabra and pot-light styles. Bright white and soft white options are available, so you can set the mood in any room or outdoors.
Well we don’t have to ditch the CFL’s entirely. They are extremely affordable products so it makes them appealing for most households. A Philips13W CFL – 60W Incandescent Equivalent – says it has a 10,000 hour lifespan, or approximately 9 years (based on 3 hours per day of usage). They have an incredible lifespan compared to incandescent bulbs and at 75% more effiecient, they are a definite improvement. Nevertheless LED bulbs are much more energy efficient and long lasting. In addition, CFL’s need to be handled and disposed of a little more carefully than traditional incandescents and LED’s since they contain mercury. Additionally they produce a limited amount of UV raditation at distance of 11 inches or closer according to a 2009 Canadian Government study. This makes CLF’s not ideal for desk lamps or for areas in which they could be tampered with by children.
In our home we began with areas which are difficult to access but are used very frequently such as hallways and staircases. In our condo we have a high traffic hallway/foyer/laundry room which means the light is on a large part of the day. If this light burns out, I am hooped without the Mr. since I am too short to reach them even on a chair. So why not use an LED there and never have that problem again?
As well, we had an original track-light fixture in our old condo kitchen which used halogen bulbs. Not only was the piece dated, it was inefficient and HOT! It felt like a food warmer in a fast food restaurant haha. So on our bi-yearly visit to Costco we impulse bought a modern chrome multi-lamp LED fixture. We LOVE it! It casts a bright warm white light and floods the space perfectly. Check it out! Stylish and Efficient! The downside, like with many products, this was likely imported from overseas. This means it’s Ecological Footprint is likely quite large due to transportation costs and manufacturing costs.
Now that we have moved to out townhouse, we are beginning all over again with switching our fixtures! We are replacing the bulbs in our “boob lights” with LED’s (they were all incandescent) and have replaced the hot halogen bulbs from the spotlights in the living room. In our bedroom we replaced the entire fixture with a awesome drum shade and put in LED 40W bulbs.
Another spot where I want to make the change is on my desk and a spotlight over my fireplace. They both have halogen bulbs which produce excess heat. And remember, excess heat is a sure sign of energy inefficiency, so if it’s hot, lets not. I want swap out my student-inspired halogen desk lamp with a chic chrome lamp and sub-in an LED bulb instead of the stock incandescent they come with typically. Additionally I would hesitate to install a CFL bulb in a desk lamp due to its proximity to my face since we don’t need any additional aging agents right? Right.
I would love to hear back from you guys about the changes you are making or ideas you would like me to look into, so don’t be shy and leave me a message in the comment section!