How to Slow Down the Fast Fashion Cycle


Here are some tips so slowing down the fast fashion cycle and getting the most out of every piece of clothing.

Give Your Clothes a Longer Life Span

Repair

You’ll be surprised at what can be fixed to leave your clothing looking good as new again. A few dollars spent at a tailor shop (or a little time spent sewing, if you’ve mastered the talent yourself) is an especially good decision if you’re hoping to renew a high-quality piece of clothing that was already an investment for your wardrobe. Don’t forget that shoe repair shops are a great option for renewing your favourite footwear as well. Cobblers are often able to work on other leather items, too, such as belts that need another hole added, or purses that need a strap fixed. 

Photo credit: From @zerowastenovascotia

Alter

A tailor (or you, if you have the sewing skills) can also extend the life of a piece of clothing by reworking it into something different. Hemlines, sleeve lengths and necklines are all things that change with fashion trends— they are also all details that can be altered on your existing clothing. 

Take good care of your clothing

Get in the mind set of starting a long-term relationship with your clothing. Follow washing instructions. Use cold water and hang to dry when possible to preserve colours. Use baking soda to whiten canvas sneakers in the washing machine. Soak smelly clothing in vinegar and water before washing. Investing in a clothing shaver is also a great way to remove pilling and refresh all your sweaters. These are just a few examples of simple fixes to consider before throwing away an item that may still have plenty of life left.

Give Your Clothes a Second Life

Sell, donate or swap

Your gently worn clothing might be exactly what someone else is looking for. If you are willing to spend a little time listing items on Kijiji, Facebook marketplace, or other clothing-specific social media groups, you could make some money off items you no longer wear. 

Donating clothing is another way to try and give your clothes a second life. Unfortunately, many charities and shelters that accept used clothing often receive more textiles than they can realistically distribute or recycle. It is always worth it to check with charities first, to see if they are currently in need of clothes. Make sure that your donation goes where it is most likely to make a difference. Wondering where the clothing you place in those various parking lot bins goes? The website for AFTeR (https://afterwear.ca) explains which charities benefit from these clothing donations and provides an FAQ covering what can be donated and what happens to the items placed in the bins. 

Participating in a clothing swap is another great way to pass your clothing along. You can organize a clothing swap with your friends or find one in your community— such as the swaps hosted by the Tare Shop, check out their events page to see when their next swap is. Swap participants bring items they no longer wear and take home new-to-them items that are brought to the swap by other participants. These types of events are a great opportunity to “shop” for second-hand clothing, and can even be social gatherings. 

Turn your clothing into household items

When a garment is no longer wearable it may still be able to serve a purpose before it needs to be trashed. Rags are the easiest use for old clothing, and, if washed and reused, can often replace paper towel and other disposable household cleaning products. 

You may have other uses for old textiles in your home, too. We have some ottomans that are shells that can be stuffed with any type of material to achieve the desired shape, so I save larger textile items to use as stuffing for when they start to flatten out. I also used a couple sweaters with a terry-cloth like cotton fabric to make my own reusable make-up removers. Wondering what I’m talking about? Check out these of pre-made reusable facial rounds and wool makeup removal pads available at The Tare Shop.

Katie Tanner is the Museum & Communications Coordinator at the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame. An English graduate from Dalhousie University, she was born and raised in the Annapolis Valley but has been a Haligonian for over a decade. She enjoys travelling and doing her part to take care of the planet.