It’s not exactly news to us that our relationship to our clothes has become completely unsustainable.
Most of us have seen the garment graveyards splayed across our social media feeds, with 73 percent of all clothing globally ending up in landfill or incinerated, with the Atacama Desert sadly becoming a dumping ground for over 39,000 tonnes of clothing every single year. Unfortunately, this clothing will take hundreds of years to degrade, if it even does so at all.
And while fashion waste doesn’t tend to take centre stage when it comes to conversations about curbing contributions to climate change, there’s actually a lot that we can do as individuals to make sure that the amount of fashion waste that we’re producing is as small as possible.
The global appliance brand Electrolux has a goal of making clothes last twice as long with half the environmental impact by 2030, so we’re teaming up with Electrolux to drop a few tips on how you can have a relationship with your wardrobe that is as sustainable as possible.
1. Keep Your Clothes For Longer
The most sustainable clothes are the ones that we already own, and extending the life of our clothes by just nine months reduces their impact on the climate – in terms of water impact and waste produced – by 20 to 30 percent.
Sadly, a lot of us don’t hold on to our clothes for as long as we could, with 90 percent of clothing ending up in landfill before it needs to. Shockingly, garments are now only worn an average of ten times before being thrown out.
Investing in good quality garments – and taking good care of them – is key to making sure that we’re keeping our contribution to these global waste heaps as small as possible.
2. Turn Down The Temperature
Another easy and effective way of both extending the life of your clothes and limiting textile waste is to wash your clothes at cooler temperatures. In fact, just turning down the temperature setting of your washing machine down to 30°C or lower makes a massive difference.
For example, Electrolux notes if turning the temperature dial down became the norm across Europe, the equivalent environmental impact would be the same as removing 1.3 million cars from the road every year.
And if you tend to use powder laundry detergent, making the switch to liquid could mean saving the equivalent of 50kg of carbon dioxide per appliance per year. It’s also typically more effective at removing stains from your clothes, so that’s a nice little bonus, too!
Electrolux is also leading the charge with a goal to make clothes last twice as long while halving their environmental impact over the next eight years. “By modernising care technology for all fabrics and inspiring better care habits, our aim is to halve the environmental impact of caring for clothes and prolong the average life of garments,” Elisa Stabon, Care Experience Development Director for the Electrolux explains.
“Electrolux has a long-term strategy in place with the goal of reducing our climate impact significantly. As experts in clothing care, we are already developing advanced laundry technologies that make the clothes we wear last longer – and reduce both the water and energy used. But we as a company cannot provide the only solution: We hope we can inspire and educate consumers on how they can make the clothes they already have last longer, we want to do all we can to help drive this change.”
A final tip for limiting our impact on climate change is to shop for clothes that are upcycled – an innovative trend among fashion designers where textile waste material is used to create exciting new garments. The trend not only spurs unique designs but helps to keep discarded garments out of waste streams.
To demonstrate that used clothes still have value, Electrolux has teamed up with the Swedish designer duo Rave Review to create a unique collection made up from discarded clothing from the Atacama desert itself.
The collection won’t be sold, but Electrolux wants to inspire us to look at the clothes in our wardrobe with new eyes and think about how we can best take care of them.
“We have always believed that in the future fashion cannot exist as of today,” says Livia Schück, co-founder and creative director at Rave Review. “I think we all must change in one way or another. When it comes to fashion, taking care of what we already have is probably the most tangible and easy way to do it.”