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Every Little Step Challenge – Week 8: Dress more consciously 

Many of us don’t have full awareness of our own wardrobe’s carbon footprint. The fashion industry is a major carbon consumer, and it has been reported that the fashion industry has contributed more to CO2 emissions than all worldwide flights and maritime shipping combined.

The disposal of clothing is another major concern as each year, over 85% of clothing produced goes to landfill. In a local context, according to Business Insider, that’s the equivalent of filling Sydney harbour annually with discarded clothing. The fashion industry is also much thirstier than it may appear. You might be surprised to discover just how much water is required to create one garment.

One major reason that the fashion industry has developed such a vast environmental footprint, is the rapid growth of ‘disposable fashion’. Our individual habits around clothing consumption are changing at a stark and wholly unsustainable rate. Fashion for Good reports that he average person buys 60% more clothing than they did 15 years ago, and owns items for half as long before disposing of them.

But there are ways to still enjoy fashion, without the tax on the planet:

  • Reducing the number of clothing items you purchase – making a conscious choice to buck trends and opt for classic, timeless styles is an easy change
  • Selling or donating clothes you no longer wear
  • Buying second-hand rather than new

Even if you’re not ready to reduce the amount of clothing you buy, you can buy more sustainable pieces. Increasingly, slow fashion brands are emerging on the market, committed to selling ethically produced, high quality and 100% traceable pieces. Although the upfront cost of these items can be more, the cost per wear basis is often lower. Buying something made locally, with sustainable materials, can stimulate the local economy while decreasing environmental impact. Increasingly, brands are opted to provide full traceability of how their clothes are made and their own carbon footprint.

What step will you take towards a more sustainable wardrobe?

Little step – Download the Good On You app

This app is great to help aid more informed choices about the clothes you buy moving forward. The app gives brands a rating based on a range of factors, including sustainability and fair pay for workers. Commit to investing more sustainable choices in classic styles.

Medium step – Have a ‘one in one out’ policy

Each time you buy something new for your wardrobe, put another item back into the circular fashion economy by donating it. You could also try clothing swaps, or buy second hand.

Big step – Buy nothing for a year

Sort through your existing wardrobe to create a capsule of clothes that you enjoy wearing, and donate or sell things that you barely wear. Try to stick to the wardrobe for the full year. If you want a less extreme version of this challenge, you could allow yourself 10 ethical purchases through the year.

Useful links to get you started:

Previous challenges:


Guest author: Cheryl Edwards

This article is designed to give an overview of different resources available to help you with the Every Little Step Climate Initiative. Neither Inner West Mums or the author can personally endorse the products and services mentioned, and we always encourage you to do your own research before deciding if a product or service is right for you.

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