We’ve challenged Australia’s best minds in sustainability to give us one simple tip each week that can help our readers make a difference to the environment.
The world’s “love and desire” to keep up with clothing trends is devastating the environment, but sustainable fashion expert Nina Gbor has some ideas to help save the planet for future generations.
The problem we're facing is approximately 150 billion garments are produced every year for the planet’s 7.8 billion people, and this accounts for around 10 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions.
Ms Gbor points out that a large portion of our clothes contain synthetic material derived from fossil fuels, and these are contributing to the warming of our planet.
“It’s literally as if we’re attempting to consume our way into our own extinction,” Ms Gbor said.
“We really need to take responsibility, as humans, as a species for the planet that we live on.”
‘The cure’: Why creativity beats buying new clothes
One thing all of us can do to lessen our impact on the planet is buy less clothes, Ms Gbor suggests.
This simply means being more creative with the garments that we have, rather than feeling the need to buy more, and this will save money as well as the planet.
“You can restyle the clothes you already have in lots of different ways,” Ms Gbor said.
“Take one garment and create as many different looks as you possibly can using layers and accessories.
“I think that creativity, it’s fair to say, is the cure to the throwaway culture that we have right now.”
Horrifying fashion statistics that keep experts awake at night
In Australia alone, each person sends 23kg of textile waste to landfill each year.
Globally we produce 13 million tonnes of textile waste which goes into landfill - 95 per cent of which could be reused.
Almost 20 per cent of waste water comes from the fashion industry.
Tips on getting creative with the clothes you have
To help get inspired, Ms Gbor suggests looking to social media and embracing style challenges on platforms like Instagram.
When we do need to add items to our collection, she suggests going to op-shops, second-hand clothing stores, or even talking part in clothes swaps.
These don’t have to be in person, with online platforms like Depop, Etsy, and Vestiaire Collective offering peer-to-peer sales, and many charity shops like Red Cross and Lifeline now offering their catalogues online.
Short fashion facts you need to know
Trees are cut down to make fabrics like modal, rayon and viscose.
Cotton farming to produce denim results in land clearing and requires large amounts of water.
Chemicals from toxic dyes used in textile production are impacting clean water supplies.
When synthetic clothes are agitated during the washing process, they can shed microplastics into the ocean.
Other ways to do good in the world
What if I’m not into secondhand clothing?
Ms Gbor thinks we should be making two key considerations when buying new clothing.
She suggests searching online for sustainable brands that use natural textiles, and considering the ethics of both the materials they use and the welfare of their workers.
This leads to her second recommendation, and that’s to buy quality not quantity, and this will ensure clothing can be reused and doesn’t end up in landfill.
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