The fashion industry is a major contributor to global emissions, with up to 10% of emissions coming from this sector alone. In Australia, the carbon footprint from fashion consumption is the largest in the world. With the urgency of the climate crisis, it is important that we reconsider our approach to fashion and make more sustainable choices.
During the second world war, people adapted their clothing styles to conserve resources and support the war effort. This collective necessity reflected the values of society as a whole, with buying less and making do with what was already available becoming part of the value system. Today, we can learn from this wartime response and apply it to our current context.
One of the most impactful actions we can take is to buy fewer new clothes and wear them for longer. Australians currently buy an average of 56 items of clothing per year, making them the second highest textiles consumers in the world. By shifting away from our obsession with newness and novelty, we can appreciate the value of lived-in, mended, or altered clothes. There is a certain comfort and joy in wearing an old garment that has aged with time.
The Berlin-based Hot or Cool Institute suggests that a wardrobe of 74 garments is typically sufficient for people living in a two-season climate, while those in a four-season climate may need around 85 pieces. By buying around 10 to 12 new items per year, we can replace our entire wardrobe in about seven years.
In addition to buying fewer new clothes, we can also opt for second-hand items instead. This not only reduces the demand for new production but also gives pre-loved clothes a new life. Thrift stores, online marketplaces, and clothing swaps are great places to find unique and affordable second-hand pieces.
While individual actions alone will not solve all the problems associated with the fashion industry, they are a step in the right direction. By aligning our clothing choices with our values, we can contribute to the structural and systemic change needed to live sustainably. It is important to remember that our choices matter and can have a big impact on the environment.
In conclusion, as we face the climate crisis, it is crucial that we reconsider our approach to fashion. Buying fewer new clothes, wearing them for longer, and opting for second-hand items are all actions we can take to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry. By making sustainable choices, we can live according to our values and contribute to a more sustainable future.