I saw an eye-opening documentary called The True Cost. It focused on the impact of fast fashion, on the working conditions of those that make our clothing, and on the environmental cost of the disposable fashion model. One of the most distressing facts I learned from the film is that the average American will throw out 81 lbs of clothes a year – that adds up to around 26 billion lbs of clothes and textiles that will end up in landfills.
But it’s not just landfills that are filling up with these castoffs. These cheaply-made garments are making their way everywhere. I remember when you used to be able to go thrifting and find quality vintage items. Today, all the second-hand shops are overstuffed with H&M, Zara, and Old Navy.
Today I am very selective about what I purchase, and I have to be.
Living in New York, closet space is limited. Between a work wardrobe and a weekend wardrobe, plus all four seasons, you really need to make every piece of clothing count. You can’t hold onto anything that you aren’t regularly wearing.
So my philosophy is simple: buy the best quality you can afford, tailor it to fit, and treat it so it’ll last.
Higher quality clothing also contributes to less waste, which results in a lower environmental impact, and it lowers my overall costs per year. While I may spend the money on tailoring my clothes initially, it will fit me exactly how I want it to for years to come. Plus, I’ll wear it so it’s worth spending the money on a good quality item that fits me perfectly, rather than racking up a bill on a ton of cheap clothes that I’ll have to get rid of in a few months.
I’ve got pieces from years ago that look brand new, and that’s because I take care of them.
Hand washing is obviously best, but who has time for that? Instead, I make sure to wash on the gentle cycle, using cold water only. And I hang everything out to dry – dryers, dryer sheets, and fabric softener are ruinous to fabrics.
Of course maintaining your clothing only works if you can stay around the same size every year, which is yet another reason it’s important to implement lifelong strategies for healthy eating and daily activity. Not only will you sleep better, boost your immune system, and enjoy your food and drinks more, you will save yourself the stress and financial burden of sizing-up and sizing-down as your waistline fluctuates.