We sat down with Gro Haram, the Director of Sustainability at NF&TA, to discuss how we all as consumers, can make small adjustments to our current habits, that have a greater impact on the environment long term. Listen in as Gro shares her top 5 tips for more sustainable consumption below.
“The clothing industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world and will need to undergo radical change in the next couple of years. While producers and retailers need to do their part to ensure that the retail industry becomes more sustainable, the role of the consumer is equally as important. Without the consumer, we will not be able to move the fashion industry in a more sustainable direction.
There are three stages during the garment’s lifecycle that you should think through:
Considering these stages above, I have created this guide for you. It is my hope that if anything, you will learn something and maybe consider or change a few of your current purchasing habits in the future!”
One of the challenges in the clothing industry and the evolution of online shopping is the incredible amount of returns that consumers make. This means clothing items are making multiple trips to and from the customer and the purchase ends up having a much greater footprint due to transport. Online returns are mostly free, and sadly, this fact seems to result in less sustainable purchasing habits. One investigation revealed that one single jacket purchased was transported between warehouses and three different customers in a short amount of time- totaling a trip of more than 10 000 km! A few things to remember when shopping online:
Measure yourself before ordering! This can help prevent additional shipments that have an environmental impact.
Think twice before ordering multiple items, knowing you will return others. Be conscious of your decisions and do your research.
Seek information from the brand on sizing, reviews and any other resources that can help guide your decision when purchasing.
Care For Your Garments
If you treat your items of clothing with love and care, they will look nicer and last longer. It’s not normally the wearing that causes clothes to lose their shape and luster, it's rather all the washing - so only clean your clothes when you have to and spot clean when you can.
When you do wash, remember to read the care label and to use the right type of detergent. For instance, clothes containing wool must be cleaned with a special wool detergent, not a normal detergent. At tekstilaksjonen.no you can access a material guide, where you can read about the different materials and how to care for them.
Repair Your Garments
Repairing your garments can be an effective way of extending their lifespan. If you learn to do easy repairs, such as sewing a button, or visit your local tailor – your clothes can last much longer. According to a report by WRAP, clothes typically have an average life of two years in your closet. But if you can extend that to closer to three years by caring for them correctly and repairing them, it reduces its carbon, water, and waste footprint by 20 to 30 percent.
Make sure to explore the brand’s repair section – many, like Varsity Headwear, offer in-house repairs.
Stricter rules are underway from the EU that will strengthen consumer rights. In just a few months, consumers will hold the right to information from brands on how products are produced, where components are sourced, how they are used, how they can be repaired, and how they should be treated at the end of life. With this new shift towards a more responsible and sustainable industry, it is so important that consumers speak up, question things and support brands on their sustainability journey. Expect more from brands, and demand more from brands.
Ultimately brands need to take responsibility for their items after use by providing recycling and post-use options for their customers. However, this doesn’t mean that the consumer is totally off the hook! Before throwing anything away, think through these different ways you could discard your items.
Pass it along
Looking forward, I am optimistic about the future! The EU authorities are focusing more and more on the issue and are demanding more from the industry. This is great progress! But we need to talk about consumer habits and work to ensure that all of us become more conscious and responsible consumers.
Still have questions? I will be hosting an “Ask Me Anything” on Varsity Headwear’s Instagram this week – DM us your questions.