‘Greener You’ Challenge #23 – Embrace Circular Fashion

With the changing seasons, you might be adding to your or your family’s wardrobe. Before you do, consider shifting from linear to circular fashion.

What is the difference between linear and circular fashion?

The vast majority of fashion industry’s production is linear: you purchase a garment made from new, likely unsustainable materials. When you’re done, you toss it. Even if you donate the item, it can often end up in a landfill or burn pile in the US or global South. We call this linear production “cradle to grave.”

By contrast, circular fashion considers a garment’s full life cycle: the clothing’s sustainability and durability, its timeless style, a factory’s labor conditions, greenhouse gas emissions for production and transport. Most importantly, circular fashion also plans a garment’s rebirth. Should it be redesigned or repurposed and reused? We call this circular production “cradle to cradle.”

Here’s how you can embrace circular fashion:

STEP 1: Buy less. Average Americans purchase a staggering sixty eight new pieces of clothing a year. The less we purchase, the less ends up in a landfill. It’s that simple.

STEP 2: Take Better Care of What You Have The old me would have tossed or given away two pairs of pants that recently developed holes. Instead, I took them to my local dry cleaner for repair. Same goes for shirts and sweaters. I’ve become expert at ironing patches on the knees of my son’s pants. Taking better care also means washing less and line-drying more.

STEP 3A: Shop Circular Give second life to clothing that already exists. Buy beautiful, pre-loved pieces at sites like MercariDepopThredUp, and EBay. Join parent Facebook groups, a gold mine for piles (often free) of kids clothes. Check out thrift and consignment shops. Last week, I got eighteen summer pieces for my kids for forty dollars, most barely used, several with sales tags. (I also got a dress and a brand new white t-shirt for myself!)

STEP 3B: Support Brands with Circular Fashion Practices Yes, they’re likely more expensive, but that’s the cost of doing it right – by factory workers and the Earth. And when you buy far less (Step 1!), you can invest in pieces that last longer.

STEP 4: Dispose of clothes properly If you think there’s a market for your old item of clothing, donate it. If not (no one wants your 2017 company picnic t-shirt or your pilled and stained sweater), then find a textile recycling center. Search by zip code here.

If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me!

Leave a comment

You might also like these posts:

Become a Planetarian

Planetarian Life is a community working together to create a brighter, more hopeful future for the Earth. We need you - more people equals more impact! Start by signing up for our newsletter, you’ll receive a not-yet-posted Capsule recipe and seasonal suggestions to inspire your cooking. We also share tips, techniques, skills, and green inspiration.