Bra Making

The alarming cost of cheap fashion

By August 28, 2019 October 8th, 2019 One Comment

We all wanna be on the good side of that never ending guilt train in our brains. You know, the one where we can always do more at work, at home, with our families, with our lifestyles. That perpetual guilt we feel about not treading lightly enough on the earth, while trying to keep up in a world where we don’t have energy to do everything perfectly, all the time.

Especially when the planet’s lungs are on fire and governments everywhere delay, delay and argue over climate change and environmental action. 

If you’re still reading this, you may be wondering why am I getting all environmentalist on my bra making blog. First, I’m trained as a biologist and a climate scientist, so it’s kind of my other wheelhouse. Tree hugging and bra making. 

Second, one of the best things all of us can do, easily, to reduce our fashion and fabric habits. 

The fashion industry creates about 10% of the world’s annual greenhouse gas emissions and 20% of the world’s waste water.

Cotton, in particular, is a huge drain on resources to produce, both of water and land, regardless of whether it is organic or not. 

To make things worse, 85% of the textiles we buy end up in landfills. 

The race to the bottom in clothing prices, combined with a never ending release of new lines, trends and looks has fueled a “buy and discard” culture when it comes to our clothes. 

Okay, Abby, you’re thinking. You’re not helping with the guilt train, you’re making it worse! 

Here are 5 simple things you can do to reduce both your guilt and your environmental impact when it comes to your closet. There are of course many more things – let me know what your favourites are!

Greening your closet and underwear drawer

closeup of ripped denim being patched by hexagon quiltwork

  1. The clothing you already own is the greenest clothing to own (mostly.) Wear the clothing you already own for longer. Visible mending is a great way to take your older, well worn clothing and give it new life!

  2. Keep what sparks joy, but co-ordinate your future buys and makes to maximize your wardrobe flexibility. I once had a session with a stylist who came my place and went through all my clothes and accessories with me. She then complied a list of all the different outfit/accessory combinations with me, and identified missing pieces that would add many more possible outfits with what I already had. 
    We can’t all afford to do this, obviously, but we can go through and do this ourselves or with a friend (fresh eyes helps.) Then you can create a shopping/making list of items that you know you need and can coordinate. This makes it more likely you’ll wear the item and keep it longer. 
  3. Shop consignment, second hand, or rent. There are amazing online retailers now offering rental and consignment clothing at affordable prices, but your local thrift store may also have gems hidden in the racks- especially if you jump into the Refashion movement (one of my favourite blogs is Our Life is Beautiful.) The fashion supply chain and production is the dirtiest part, so anything you buy that removes that cost, like second hand clothing or cloth, reduces your footprint. 
  4. Ask questions when you do buy clothes and fabric. Where is this clothing made? What is it made from? Look for GOTS certified, organic, fair trade, Cradle to Cradle, or other certifications. There are some great online resources like My Green Closet and Offset Warehouse to help with making fashion and fabric choices. 
  5. Educate yourself on how and where your clothes are made, and invest in quality pieces that will last you longer, that you can refashion or reuse in another way. 

For more great resources, I recommend (these aren’t affiliate links, I just like them):

Slave to Fashion by Safia Minney
Overdressed by Elizabeth Cline
Mending Matters by Katrina Rodabaugh
Seamwork Wardrobe Design session by Seamwork magazine

One Comment

  • Great job, Abby! Sometimes it’s the simple things that have the greatest impact…beginning with reducing our consumption! I came across the 30-wears rule recently, the idea being that you shouldn’t buy any clothing that you don’t expect to wear 30 times in a year. It made me regret a lot of purchases of fancy dresses etc. that I may never wear and truly appreciate those go-to items in my wardrobe.

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