How to Live a Sustainable Lifestyle: Clothing and Textiles

How to Live a Sustainable Lifestyle: Clothing and Textiles

In our last blog post A New Year's Challenge, we asked our viewers to “be more aware of the effects the purchases you make have on the world around you and to do your best to select brands that use practices that are rooted in sustainability and the ethical treatment of their employees.”

In this week's post, we'll be sharing a few of the basics when it comes to making responsible clothing purchases and upcycling textiles, a great first step when looking to live a more sustainable lifestyle!

The EPA states that “everything that we need for our survival and well-being depends, either directly or indirectly, on our natural environment. Sustainability creates and maintains the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic, and other requirements of present and future generations. Sustainability is important to make sure that we have and will continue to have, the water, materials, and resources to protect human health and our environment.”

With this definition in mind, what can we do when it comes to being mindful of our clothing consumption and disposal?

When Making Purchases

Be more aware of the practices used by the brands you invest in

As a consumer, it's extremely important to research the ethical and sustainable practices (or lack thereof) used by the brands you invest your money in, and we're here to help you with this!

The brands that we stock on our site have all succeeded in meeting our ten ethical and sustainable guidelines. We've taken the time to research hundreds of brands in order to provide a small but trusted list of makers that stay true to these ethical and sustainable manufacturing structures.

You can shop their products from our responsibly made collection with confidence knowing that the brands represented live up to the highest of standards when it comes to protecting our planet, garment makers, and our customers!

Buy second-hand

The longer a piece of clothing or other item can stay out of the landfills and continue to be used, the better it will be for everyone (including the 🌎)!

There are a significant number of consignment boutiques and charities with shops that will sell gently used (and sometimes like new) clothing and goods at a reduced cost. Alternatively, you can check out our own collection of preloved items here!

Take part in local clothing swaps

Clothing swaps can further promote the reduction, reusing, and recycling of clothing. Although COVID has made swaps a little more difficult than normal, there are still ways to host socially distanced swaps with close friends and family!

When taking care of your purchases

Keeping in mind that the lifecycle of the items you purchase doesn't end when they reach your home, we challenge you to be mindful of how you maintain your purchases and what you do with them once you no longer need, or want, them.

The disposal of garments is another huge factor in the fashion industry's carbon footprint and one we as consumers actually have a great deal of control over, so here are a few things to keep in mind when you've added a new piece to your growing collection:

Be mindful of how you clean your items

When it comes to washing your clothing, you should try to wash them as infrequently as possible, and almost always use low temperatures.

It's also a great idea to pay attention to care labels and use eco-laundry powder or detergents whenever possible. One of our personal favourite eco-friendly laundry options is Tru Earth, a Canadian company that produces laundry strips. We also love Nellie's, another brand that offers a number of powdered detergents, reusable dryer balls, and more.

Lastly, it's always best if you wash your clothing inside out and allow them air dry. Not only is it better for the environment, it's gentler on your clothing and will help to avoid stretching and pilling!

Repairing your items

When a piece of clothing is ripped or in need of repair, there are several options you can look into.

You can find a tailor near home, or you can tailor at home yourself! Remake Our World has a great blog post for 5 easy stitch fixes to use in case of emergencies.

When you're done with your purchases

It should be noted that old clothing should never be thrown in the garbage!

Any clothing that makes it’s way to a landfill is detrimental to the environment. Natural fibers will eventually decompose, producing acid leachate and releasing greenhouse gases such as methane and carbon dioxide, both of which contribute to climate change.

Even worse, synthetic fibers will never biodegrade. Like plastic, textiles made of synthetic fibers will fill up valuable space in our landfills and remain there forever, and there are ways around this that we'll discuss in the following bullet points!

There are several actions you can take to ensure your used textiles enjoy an extended life and don't end up in the landfill when you're done with them:

Sell on consignment

A clothing consignment shop sells clothes that are owned by an individual rather than the shops owner. The individual provides items to the shop owner who sells the items on their behalf. Both the individual and the shop owner receive a portion of the profit made from the item once the item is sold, so those who choose to consign their clothes in shops can end up making a profit!

If you live in Edmonton or surrounding areas and would like to put any items you have up for consignment with us, you can learn more about our process and contact us here!

Upcycle used clothing

Do you have a creative eye? Now is the time to get those scissors and hot glue guns out and start crafting! ✂️

Upcycling old items is the practice of creating something new and useful from your textiles. For example, you can use old t-shirts to create a value-added product like unique handmade braided rug!

Recycle used clothing

You can look for other ways to use old clothing such as rags for cleaning, ties for use in the garden, or clothes for painting or yard work!

If you're looking for more ideas on how to upcycle or recycle your clothing, follow us on Pinterest. We love re-pinning DIY ideas for you to browse (and for us to use at home too)!

Donate used clothing to charity

Although donating to a charity is always an option, you should be aware that not all items that are donated will be reused. It should be noted that charities keep approximately 10% of all the donated clothing they receive.

These clothes tend to be good quality, fashionable, and high valued fabrics that can easily be sold in charities’ thrift shops. They sell the other 90% of the clothing donations to textile recycling firms who process about 70% of the donated clothing into industrial items such as rags or cleaning cloths.

The remaining items are sold into the international market where much of it ends up in landfills, so be sure to do your research when donating to make sure you can make the most of your donations!

In Summary

If you're wanting to make small but effective changes in the way you handle your clothing and textile purchases, keep these thoughts in mind:

  • When purchasing new clothing, select brands that demonstrate that they use sustainable processes in selecting raw materials, in manufacturing and in shipping. You can check out our responsibly made collection here!
  • When maintaining your clothing, ensure you take care of them using the most sustainable practices possible including washing and repairing them with the environment in mind.
  • When you no longer want your clothing, do your best to find a new home for it or repurpose it to extend it’s life. Our objective should always be to keep as much product out of the landfills as possible. You can contact us about consigning your items here!


Until next time, stay informed, stay healthy, stay #intheloop!

Leave a comment