Now I don't consider myself a fashionista, but I do love fabulous clothes. I've been enjoying The Good Closet blog and several post on the Etsy Blog by Elizabeth. She is challenging readers to examine their clothing habits and environmental impact. Fact of the matter is, we cannot go nekkid around our society, and the ways that we costume ourselves has changed hugely over the years. Most changes seem to push away from simple sustainable coverings, and towards disposable (but not biodegradable!) clothing.
So I thought I'd jump in, what's in my closet? Well to start with, I haven't a closet proper, just a hanging rod for dresses, shirts and coats. But even this is an interesting cross-section of my clothing habits. First, 16 dresses, 8 button up shirts, 8 dress coats. Secondly, 10 are handmade (one by my mother, the rest by me); 11 are vintage, 8 were bought used from a thrift store, 3 were bought new. I've owned (as in, possessed in my household) each piece for an average of 5 years; the oldest was about 12 years old, the most recent dress was made less than a month ago.
But that's all just a bunch of numbers right? Well, when you consider the amount of textiles that are discarded everyday in the U.S. there's more to this picture. Have you ever stood in the back room of a charity thrift store and watched boxes pile up full of old clothes? Not all of it will make the shelves, some may be thrown away if it looks beat-up or undesirable. Some will go to outlets to be picked over by opportunity shoppers. Much of that is bailed and shipped to the developing world, dumping last years styles on the world's poor.
And what of it's final destination? Even an old-fashioned mender such as myself finds things may eventually go to a landfill. Cotton, linen, silk, wool and such natural fibers may breakdown eventually, tho the anaerobic environs in a dump aren't conducive to that sort of decay. Synthetics however, are forever. Even as the plastic polymers crumble, the molecules rarely breakdown into base components. Synthetic fabrics such as nylon, rayon, polyester, spandex and the like will never truly return to being organic material.
So what does that have to do with one's closet? Buying less, keeping it longer, and reusing the textiles can help reduce the environmental impact we all have, and it can be done without sacrificing much style! What's in your closet? Check out The Good Closet to read more about Elizabeth's research, and to get more ideas about how your fashion sense can become more eco-friendly.