In this present reality where clothes are intended to last for around 30 washes, we are currently purchasing a staggering 400% more clothes than we were 20 years ago.
The logic is pretty easy to understand: modest fabrics and materials are used to save cash, this means clothes are intended to fall apart, you will require new ones soon, you will purchase more. It's an endless circle based around volume rather than quality and awareness.
It must have happened at least once in your life: experiencing vintage items with your grandmother in front of her closet, with her telling you about all the unique events when she wore that skirt (still looking pretty new), and possibly that time she needed to repair it after it was trapped in the spokes of the bicycle wheel. We have some horrible news for you: this might not be you in a couple of years. Why? Since your clothes will most likely become trash at that point. What's more, beside its romantic aspect, the environmental impact this clothing cycle carries with it is massive.
The brutal truth is: fabrics are difficult to reuse. At the time being, just polyester and certain nylons can be reprocessed. This is because of the challenge to separate mixed fiber materials, and today, this is the method most of our clothes are made.
“A T-shirt that’s 99% cotton and 1% spandex can’t be saved from landfill today” mentions sustainability writer Hannah Gould.
The great news is science is moving fast with new models often referreded to as "closed loop" or "circular textiles" technologies and studies. An outstanding axemple is the 'circular denim' research at Deakin University which considered a historic procedure that can grind old denim into particles that would then be able to be turned into new denim. Or on the other hand Swedish organization re:newcell , that created the first ever material using a technology that permits to reuse all materials that contain cellulose. great news also with regard to polyester, now ready to be polymerised by a technology created by Japanese corporation Teijin.
The developing concept of the sharing economy (think about Airbnb or Depop just to give some examples) certainly helps the concept of circular design, as we can see various of applications, websites and initiatives planned for giving old clothes another life.
What can be done: be conscious (and mindful), shop less, pick clothing intended to last longer; treasure what you have, donate to your neighborhood charity shop rather than throwing it in the waste basket. Get creative and figure out how to fix and alter your clothes – there is a bunch of inspiration to be found on Pinterest and other good tutorials on YouTube.