New year, new you, new attitude

5 New year’s resolution to help the environment with your wardrobe choices

2020 is officially over, and I think we can all agree that it’s tempting to shove the memory of it into a dark corner of our collective memory and just pretend it never happened. But that’s all the more reason to look ahead to 2021 and make some good old-fashioned new year’s resolutions! Maybe if we do better, the universe will take pity on us and stop the plague. Who knows. At this point I’m willing to try anything, really.
Now, we all know how new year’s resolutions tend to work out: on January 1st you’re eating kale salad, doing yoga at 6 AM, and going for a run in the park. By the 10th you’re just wearing your workout clothes to rewatch the entire first season of Stranger Things while eating a tube of Pringles. The problem usually is that people make the change too drastic, or they try to implement too many new routines all at once. So I’m here to give you some resolutions that you can gently implement into your daily life. And because we make clothing and we care about the environment, they’re to do with clothing and - you guessed it – the environment.

Photo by Vladislav Murashko on Pexels

1. Pay attention to different textiles and fabrics
Different fabrics have different impacts on the environment, so it’s good to pay attention to what something’s made of before you buy it. It would be lovely if the choices were easy and straightforward, but if sustainability were easy I wouldn’t be writing these blogs. Here are a few rules of thumb: in general, synthetic fabrics and animal-derived materials should be avoided, while recycled textiles are less harmful than ‘new’ textiles and are a step towards a more circular economy. There are many, many, many grey areas, and the label won’t always tell you what you need to know, so don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s just good to keep an eye out!

2. Buy second hand
This one may seem obvious, but I do want to mention it. Buying second hand clothing promotes a circular economy, which is an important part of protecting the environment. A fun bonus is that you can often find some really neat, unique stuff that you wouldn’t be able to get new. There’s charity shops and thrift stores, but I also recommend looking up vintage stores near you that sell genuine second hand and vintage items. Another place to look is, of course, online: Gumtree and Ebay may come to mind, but if you start to dig you’ll find a whole treasure trove of places to shop for second hand and vintage stuff online. For example, ASOS has a page called ASOS marketplace where you can buy vintage and second hand and vintage items from independent sellers. There’s also an app called Vinted where you can buy clothing from and sell it to other users. Besides being good for the environment, scouring second hand websites for good deals and cool vintage stuff can also be incredibly addictive. So happy hunting!

3. Get a guppyfriend bag
“What’s a guppyfriend bag?” you ask. Well, you know those little mesh bags that people who have their life together use to protect their delicates? It looks and functions basically the same, but the goal is to minimise microfiber pollution. You put your synthetics into the bag to wash it, and the bag will keep the microplastics from getting into the water. An added bonus is that it works protectively against the great destructive forces of your washing machine, so your clothes shed less microfibers in the first place and they stay nicer for longer. It’s a win-win! You can have a look at the website here.

Photo from guppyfriend website

4. Restyle ‘n’ rewear
Whenever you have a big wardrobe clear out, there’s always a few things that sit on the maybe pile for no reason other than that you’ve had them for so long, and at this point you’re tired of looking at them. It’s easy to fall into the habit of combining the same clothes with each other again and again. It’s safe; you know for a fact that the total picture looks good (or at least that nobody will point and laugh at you in the street). But it also makes it monotonous and, quite frankly, it can get boring. Sometimes you can rekindle your love for the dusty jumper in the back of your closet by changing the way you style it. Try tucking it into your jeans, wearing a button-up shirt underneath, or tying it at the waist with a belt. If you’re feeling particularly bold you can even get crafty and cut things off or add details. Patch jeans, anyone?

5. Have a fashion swap with your friends
Still wanna get rid of the jumper? Maybe one of your friends wants it! A fun way to get rid of your spring cleaning rejects is to get together with a bunch of people, make some strong gin and tonics or hot choccies, throw everyone’s unwanted clothes on a big pile and have everyone just dig through and pick out whatever they like. For a really good time, you can put on some tunes and have a fashion show. Don’t worry about sizes too much; both oversized and undersized items can look really good if styled right (or they can be a great source of hilarity). If there’s anything left by the end, you can donate it to charity or try to sell it. Of course, having a large group of people together in a small space and swapping clothes isn’t exactly recommended in this current hellscape we call CoVid-19. Until things are back to normal, you can create a group chat or call each other on Zoom, and arrange a socially distanced swap once everyone has taken their picks.

And there you have it! 5 New year’s resolutions to help the environment with your wardrobe choices. The most important thing is to do what works for you so you keep doing it throughout the year. But again, don’t be too hard on yourself. You may crack and get that really cute polyester jumper from H&M, and that’s okay. Changing a mindset and changing habits doesn’t happen overnight, and if it feels like a chore it won’t happen at all. So have fun with it! And have a wonderful, fun, fab, and green new year from all of us at Carbon Offset Clothing.
-B. Brummelkamp

The real cost of your clothes: These are the fabrics with the best and worst environmental impact

Other things to read on this topic:
Microfibers are polluting our food chain. This laundry bag can stop that
Five Places to Shop for Secondhand Clothes Online