HOW TO CREATE A BIG IMPACT WITH SIX SMALL SUSTAINABLE CLOTHING CHOICES
Can what you wear, actually have an impact on the people in our lives and the environment?
It’s hard to believe that a sustainable and ethically made article of clothing could actually make a difference to our friends and family and on the issue of climate change, but in fact, every small change creates a ripple effect that can transcend our own understanding.
Case in point, dating back more than 30,000 years ago, humans have been using clothing as a form of self-expression that would signal to other tribe members their rank and status and their own ability to survive. Fashion, in fact, has been and remains one of the most influential industries in terms of social and political impacts.
But this isn’t about politics, this is about impact, and how your sustainable values can transform everything from giving you extra hours in the day, to your self confidence, your willpower, your bank account, your friends and family, and in the end, help make a dent in the toxic waste issue we face as a society.
With approximately 80 million new pieces of clothing purchased each year, we are consuming a whopping 400 percent more clothing than 20 years ago. This alarming fact has had a substantial effect on our planet and the communities surrounding it.
Adding insult to toxic injury, on average, most people only wear 20% of what is in their closet, and of that 20%, one item is worn at most, 5 times. As a consequence, 21 billion pounds of clothing ends up in the landfills every year, and now in our oceans, sits 5.25 trillion macro and micro pieces of plastic with 8 million pieces of plastic added everyday.
6 SMALL CHANGES THAT HAVE A BIG IMPACT
It can feel like a daunting and expensive task to convert your entire wardrobe to a sustainable one, but as previously mentioned, small progressive changes can create a ripple effect of change, compounding into measurable impact.
If you’re like many, while you may have invested in an organic and sustainable wardrobe for your kids to protect them from dangerous chemicals, your own wardrobe may not be a reflection of your sustainable values. And it’s not your fault. Eco friendly clothing for adults is a fairly new occurrence in the fashion industry. And even for the brands that were available, the costs, the styles, and the information that is now available about the fashion industry’s threat against the environment, was not as readily available.
That’s why we believe in starting SMALL. Because with every conscious decision we make - and don’t make - we are impacting our future lives and the environment, one conscious OR unconscious decision at a time.
Here are 6 things you can do that will create a ripple effect of change for yourself, your closet, and the environment.
1 - KNOW YOUR VALUES & YOUR IMPACT
If you’re reading this, chances are, you want to become more sustainable. After all, in today’s world, it’s a decision we have to make daily. This isn’t about trashing your entire wardrobe, and it isn’t about waiting until you “can afford it”, this is about consciously applying your sustainable values to your daily lifestyle - small changes that will seamlessly bleed into all areas of your life.
It starts with knowing your values and understanding the impact you have on others as an individual in your community.
So what do you value? Obviously sustainability - but what does that mean to you? Does it mean not using plastic bottles, composting your food, and never wearing synthetic fibers again? Does it apply only to your kids?
Knowing and deciding your values - not the ones you were necessarily born with, but the ones that you now embrace due to our current culture, new knowledge, your current lifestyle? Our values, after all, are and should constantly evolve as we evolve. You may not have known about the toxic impact our current society is causing on the planet 5 years ago. But now you do. That requires noticing your values have shifted, which enables you to make new choices and decisions to align your lifestyle to your mindset.
“When you know better, you do better.”Maya Angelou
Then reflecting on those values, how does your existence impact others and the world as a whole? We have a tendency to think of ourselves as a single entity, with our immediate family and friends as what makes up our world. Which is somewhat true. What you wear, the conversations you have about the environment, your lifestyle choices - they do impact your friends and family.
Then extend that out further to what you spend money on. Your spending habits on food and clothing, signal to brands and retail establishments what is selling. As profit-generating businesses, they produce on demand. So if you support brands that overproduce, pollute the environment, and cause harm and unethical standards for producing their products, your impact on business practices and the global economy is huge.
One small step for man, IS one giant step for mankind.
2 - EMBRACE A MINIMALISM MINDSET
Minimalism is about clean lines and a neutral color palette. Style-wise, it’s impossible to go wrong with a curated, minimalist wardrobe. It’s timeless, seasonless, and if done correctly, you should love every piece.
Your wardrobe should be specifically tailored to two things: your lifestyle and your personal style.
We only wear 20% of our closets 80% of the time.
This troubling statistic is reflective of our cultural lifestyles as we evolved. Before the start of the Industrial Revolution, goods were produced on a small scale often in people’s homes. As a result of this method, goods were often unique in nature and were not produced in large numbers.
Enter the Industrial Revolution, and life as we knew it changed as production started happening on a large scale. Today, consumerism has taken over, resulting in an increased consumption of goods and services purchased with the thought that it will increase a person's wellbeing and happiness. To which we know is not only NOT true at all, but the impact of that unconscious consumption has resulted in the polluted world we live in today.
A minimalism mindset doesn’t mean deprivation. It means buying things you love, when you need it, and making it a conscious decision that takes into consideration not only how it was made, but how long it will last, who made it, what it is made of and what will happen to it when you are done with it.
3 - SAY NO TO FAST FASHION
You may already know the negative impact of fast fashion. For a quick review:
- Fast fashion produces1.2 billion tons of CO2 per year, more than air travel and shipping combined.
- It produces 20% of global wastewater, polluting oceans, rivers, and streams.
It uses synthetic materials that are made from petrochemicals - toxic to the wearer and the workers.
But not talked about enough, is how NOT fast Fast Fashion actually is. We’ve all had the experience of standing in front of a closet full of clothes with “nothing to wear”.
How could that be? With a closet-full of clothes, with nothing to wear?
It turns out, the more choices we have, the less happy we are. Called “The Paradox of Choice”, this phenomenon is the idea that when we have too many choices, too many decisions, we have too little time to do what is really important.
Additionally, using our limited willpower to make those choices in the morning, actually depletes our ability to make more complex and important decisions later in the day. So the next time you find yourself reaching for that pint of ice cream, you actually might be able to blame your closet!
4 - CHOOSE QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
If you’ve ever bought something as an impulse purchase and have it snag, pill or lose it’s shape after the first wash, you’ll see why this small change could make a BIG difference.
Having a top you love that you can wash and wear 50 times vs a top you wash and wear 5 times, can make a profound difference in your life. You gain more time NOT shopping, more wear of your favorite top, less frustration over it’s deconstruction… the list is endless. Otherwise known as cost per wear, you just get more satisfaction out of your dollar.
Additionally, quality natural fiber clothing feels differently. Premium quality clothing uses premium quality fibers, and every stitch is made with intention. Wear a natural fiber, high quality piece of clothing, and then put on a polyester piece, and you immediately will notice a difference. Because just like you wouldn’t go to the gas station and turn the nozzle on yourself, why would you put a petroleum-based polyester shirt on and expect it to feel good?
5 - UPCYCLE & RECYCLE
So now you’ve worn that top - be it sustainable or synthetic - 50 times or 5, and you’re done with it - so now what?
Instead of throwing it in the trash, decide to give it new life, either by recycling it (i.e. Goodwill), reselling it (i.e with Nui’s Rewear program), or upcycling it, which refers to repurposing and transforming one item into one of equal or higher use.
A good example of upcycling would be cutting an old pair of jeans and making it into shorts. Using the scraps for patches for other clothes. Making a pillowcase out of an old tee-shirt. In other words, getting creative and giving new life to your old garment.
6 - CARE & SHARE
A funny thing happens when you decide to care. Because when you have the intention to make an impact on the people and the planet you love, amazing things happen. With every small action added to another, the impact accelerates and compounds (Newton’s second law).
That means that just a simple intention turned into a small action taken consistently, leads to profound change. And as your sustainable wardrobe and mindset grows, it starts to bleed into other areas of your life.
Let’s say, for example, you decide to replace a fast fashion synthetic top for a Nui Organics Merino Silk top. Immediately feeling the difference of a natural, breathable, and organic fiber top, makes you feel better about your sustainable values. You decide to share it on your Instagram, causing your friends to notice, and ask questions. You explain what small changes you have been making and commitment to transforming to a sustainable lifestyle.
Inspired, your friends decide to join you. They do the same - sharing and committing - and their friends and family are impacted. WIth one top, you have not only created a ripple effect of change for your community, but you’ve saved so much money and time, and received so many positive responses, you decide to recycle more things, and the cycle continues.
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”– Archbishop Desmond Tutu
We each have a role to play to help save the planet. It starts with knowing that each of our lives have the ability to positively impact other people’s lives. It’s those small decisions that will lead to a lifetime of influence on the people and things we care about most.
At Nui, everything we do is with respect for people and the planet. We believe a clean start is a big thing for a little person - and actually is also a big thing for a big person. Because just like nature, we are constantly evolving, and choosing the direction and abundance of positivity we spread in the wake of our footsteps, will have a profound effect on future generations and the world we will live in.