Fixing old clothes that are good for the environment • Troy Media

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One of the best ways to keep your clothes in the closet – and out of the landfill – is to pick up a needle and thread or pay someone else to do it when a button pops or a hem pops. falls.

According to a recent University of Alberta study that looked at who was most likely to mend their clothes, more people, especially men and the younger generation, need to adopt this mindset.

Women, especially as they aged, were most likely to do their own repairs, and although men were most likely to pay for repairs, reliance on paid help was low among both sexes. and at all ages, according to a online survey of 512 North American consumers.

Rachel McQueen

These findings highlight the need for anyone interested in sustainability to be more open to making or paying for repairs, says study lead Rachel McQueen, a clothing and textiles scientist at the Faculty of Science. agriculture, life and the environment.

“It’s important to think about making things last. The clothes we own have already been made by someone, and not valuing them for what they are is troubling. In one form or another, they will persist and contribute to the pollution of our environment.

Awash in a world of “fast fashion” — a constant turnover of cheap and plentiful clothes — it’s all too easy for consumers to throw away and replace clothes that only need minor repairs, she adds.

“Much of the clothes we buy in stores today are relatively cheap, so they are easy to source and replace. Instead of paying money to have it repaired, some people say, “I might as well buy something new.” It’s a mentality that really needs to change.

The wasteful cycle of buy, wear, tear and throw away “is creating an environmental disaster,” she says, noting that textiles are not easily recyclable. Even natural fibers like wool and cotton can cause environmental problems if they end up in landfills or float in the world’s oceans.

Prior to the 1960s, before the shift to mass-produced ready-to-wear clothing, clothes had more value, “and people took the time to fix them,” McQueen notes.

Repairing clothes promotes good health circular economymeaning using clothes to their fullest and keeping them in use for a long time before they get to the point of being broken down into fibers and recycled or returned to the earth, adds McQueen.

“You get the most value out of your clothes for as long as possible.”

Including and valuing paid repairs as part of this cycle adds to the economy by supporting tailoring and tailoring services “while doing something good for the environment,” McQueen says.

Donating used clothes doesn’t necessarily always lead to reuse or recycling, she notes.

“The supply far exceeds the demand in the second-hand clothing market, so there is only a limited part of it that is reused.”

Although it has traditionally been considered the domain of women to sew on buttons or fix broken zippers, the skill set or willingness to pay for repairs must extend beyond gender and gender. age, the study suggests.

Research found that people of both sexes aged 18 to 24 were equally likely to have their clothes repaired for free, and that men were more likely than women to use unpaid forms of repair. That likely means they rely on wives, mothers and grandmothers who have sewing skills, but at some point that help will dry up, McQueen says. The results were similar to those of a previous study involving respondents from the University of Alberta.

“People should now take the opportunity to learn from their mother or grandmother or whoever the unpaid repairman is, so they can eventually do the job themselves. And if they learn the skills, they can be an unpaid repairman for someone else.

While shopping for new clothes is tempting for young consumers, they also need to understand that keeping and using what they have instead “is a great thing to do,” McQueen adds.

The fashion industry also needs to step up its efforts to make clothing consumption more sustainable, she says.

Companies are unlikely to market repair as a high priority because it reduces the cycle to buy new, and services are difficult to scale profitably. But McQueen suggests they can still encourage their consumers to make repairs.

“Marketing campaigns could say something like, ‘Holes happen, pick up a needle and thread,’ to make repair a trendy thing.”

Government policies could also subsidize and encourage paid repairs as part of sustainability practices. McQueen also suggests that community organizations could hold reparation events — something she plans to start soon at the Department of Human Ecology.

Frugal Fashion Tips

A stitch in time is worth nine. Make repairs to clothing as soon as you notice holes, tears, or other needed repairs. “A small hole will be easier to repair and mask than a large one,” McQueen says.

GoPro. “When one zipper fails, don’t void the whole item,” she advises. “Bring it in and have it fixed by a competent professional. In the end, you either pay for something new to replace that item, or you keep what you have for longer. A repair is usually less expensive than buying a new item, and even for a poor quality item, you can improve the construction of the garment through an active repair.

Shop at home. People usually only wear 20-30% of what they own, so take a look at what else is lying around. “Shop through your wardrobe and think about wearing something you haven’t worn in a while rather than buying something new.”

| By Bev Betkowski

Bev Betkowski is a journalist at the University of Alberta Folio online review. The University of Alberta is an editorial content provider partner of Troy Media.

The opinions expressed by our columnists and contributors are their own and do not inherently or expressly reflect the views of our publication.

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