I fell in love with fashion before I realized that human activities could have a negative impact on the environment. Please don’t judge – I was young. In an ideal world we would sprinkle some fairy dust on the clothes we no longer wished to wear and they would transform into fabric, thread, buttons and zippers. Raw material for new, awesome creations. Instead we have tons of fashion waste going into landfills.
Fingers quickly point to fast fashion, and their nauseatingly constant supply of cheap garments. The solution seems straightforward: to produce quality clothing that can last long and therefore will not need to be replaced frequently. Companies such as Patagonia champion that idea and even offer free repair for their clothing. But replacing one’s wardrobe is the fun in fashion. My husband is totally happy wearing shirts he bought in his freshman year of college, but I would be very out of style if I tried to wear anything I bought that year now. Although what was fashionable that year is bound to make a comeback sooner or later.
So I feel major guilt every season when I go about updating my look and adding some freshness to my closet. Fortunately I have found a new way to deal with the environmental impact guilt, leaving me to agonize over the financial impact of my passion. Recycling! True, the wool winter coat from Scotland that I’ve grown tired of , but which still looks great, can have a second life. Pretty much all of my unwanted clothes in good condition go to Goodwill. I often consider reselling some of my expensive items, but who has the time for that? Now, those fast fashion items that fell apart after three washes, and the kids’ clothes which get stained and frayed after intense play? They get dropped off at H&M to be recycled. And I get a 15% off coupon!
After wearing H&M clothing almost exclusively during three pregnancies (they used to sell the best maternity clothes, before other companies started catching up), I have to admit that I grew tired of the Swedish retailer. But I did start shopping there for my kids. They offer cute and trendy casual wear that are perfect for school and play. I was so excited to see girls jeans with the same exact print featured in my favorite yoga pants the last time I shopped there (ahem, this morning), as I am really into matching these days.
Recycling doesn’t solve all of the ethical issues surrounding fashion, such as labor conditions, or even all of the environmental problems, but it is a step in the right direction.