Clothing can seem like an unnecessary expense when they fall apart within weeks of purchase. Not only does it contribute to global clothing waste and global warming, but it wastes your time and money when the life of your clothes fails to meet your expectations. On average, every American throws away approximately 81 pounds of clothes per year. 95% of textiles can be recycled, yet 85% are thrown in the trash.
Aside from obvious ways to repurpose old clothing, such as donating or consigning your garments, upcycling, or participating in clothing swaps, one of the main ways to prevent excessive garment and textile waste is to find ways to make your clothes last longer.
- Buy Higher Quality Clothes
Buying quality clothing can greatly reduce the need to purchase more clothing by building a foundation wardrobe made up of high-quality pieces. Quality clothes are made to last long periods of time, so they do not need to be purchased as often, making them great for building your closet. By stating with quality garments, the rest of your pieces can be cheaper, trendier items that come and go with the seasons, but you always have those basics to rely on.
Additionally, quality clothing can make your look more refined and sophisticated than constantly wearing H&M hoodies and jeans. That is to say, you can still participate in trends and fads, but strictly bouncing from trend to trend is a lot of money wasted and clothes in the trash. Your closet does not need to be made up of only designer names but putting more thought into your pieces can make a difference in the long run.
It should be mentioned that quality clothes are going to be more costly than fast fashion labels, the cost per wear for your items is significantly lower than fast fashion garments when you take into account how long those clothes will last you. High-quality clothes are an investment, but they are well worth it for creating a more sustainable closet.
- Don’t Wash Your Clothes As Often
As Americans, we wash our clothes way too often. Some items, such as socks and underwear, need to be washed after every use, but others such as jeans, hoodies, and tops need less frequent washing. Every time you put those items in the washer and drying, they fall apart and the lint you take out of the dryer is the proof of the garment’s fabric wearing out.
The following chart is a guide to how often you should be washing your garments to maximize the life of your clothing:
- Follow The Care Instructions
On that same note, when you do wash your clothes, take the time to read the label and follow the care instructions that are printed on the garment. It does affect the clothing and how long it will stay in a presentable condition. You cannot wash a pair of cotton and spandex jeans the same way that you wash your cashmere and wool sweaters. The chart below is a guide on how to read the care instruction labels and diagrams if you are unsure what each symbol means.