Why not embrace upcycling, clothing repairs and rental this Earth Day?
Maybe you're already down with buying pre-loved clothing, but there are other ways in which you can contribute—at your own level—to protecting the planet. In time for Earth Day, April 22, here are three other ways you can reduce your wardrobe's impact on the environment.
Celebrated every year since 1970, Earth Day is the perfect time for citizens of 193 countries to get involved in taking action for the environment. The initiative allows them to adopt new practices, in many fields, to better protect the planet. Fashion is increasingly moving in this direction, in order to reduce the environmental impact of the whole industry—the world's second most polluting. From upcycling to clothing repair and rental, here's a look at some of the ways you can make your wardrobe greener.
Upcycling isn't just about giving a second life to unused products, but also about bringing added value to them. In just a few years, upcycling has become commonplace in the fashion industry, to the extent that many labels now offer upcycled collections. And the upcycling process can significantly reduce waste, since brands use fabric scraps, clothes destined for the garbage, or used items, to create new, ultra-fashionable pieces.
As such, upcycling appears to be a good solution for buying new clothes without harming the planet (too) much—although, inevitably, the production process is not without minimal impact on the environment. All over the world, brands are getting involved, from ready-to-wear to luxury houses and bridal wear. The Koché brand, helmed by Christelle Kocher, is one of the pioneers in this field. She recently launched a whole collection, in collaboration with Puma, designed from surplus AC Milan jerseys. And she's not the only one getting involved. Today, you can find fashion pieces made from totally unexpected things, like cigarette butts, oyster sacks, and even airbags and seatbelts. And if you can't find what you're looking for online or in stores, there's nothing to stop you from transforming used or damaged clothes into brand-new creations yourself.
Reducing waste, and the millions of tons of textiles discarded each year around the world, also means extending the life of the clothes already in our closets. This approach is no doubt familiar to Boomers and their parents, who did not hesitate to patch up any pieces with holes or worn by time, instead of replacing them systematically. This tradition, considered obsolete a few years ago, has been coming back in force for several months. Many brands are now offering this type of service, while at the same time, professions that were destined to disappear now seem to be enjoying renewed success. This is particularly the case for cobblers, who are now embracing new technologies to repair and maintain shoes and leather goods to extend their lifespan.
Another solution is to rent clothes, which helps reduce overconsumption and, by extension, waste and trash. This involves renting exceptional pieces—evening or formal wear, for example—or everyday items, to be combined with timeless pieces from your personal wardrobe for a style overhaul that doesn't impact the planet. Fashion houses like Burberry or Maje have launched their own services, and there are also standalone platforms entirely dedicated to clothing rental. However, beware of the logistics involved, as some of the services that form part of the clothing rental business—such as dry cleaning—can have a certain impact on the planet, as recently revealed by a Finnish study.
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