Every year, around 59,000 tons of secondhand and unsold clothing end up in Chile’s Atacama, the driest desert in the world, now suffering from pollution created by fast fashion.
Wasted clothes left in landfills and other dumps, such as in the Atacama, can take hundreds of years to biodegrade, polluting the environment and some water supplies. Enter upcycling. Without question, the biggest buzzword in fashion at the moment, because it promotes the idea of circular fashion and encourages designers to create collections that last.
At the heart of this movement, is one simple truth. We need to slow down our desire for more and understand that nothing goes ‘away’ when we throw away an item of clothing. Each item of clothing needs to be seen as a treasure. Take that old R100 t-shirt in your cupboard.
You may discard it and think nothing of it. But not a vintage dress you found at a rare market, even if it also cost R100. Why? Because of the value, you attach to it. What if we relooked at each item of clothing and saw its long-term value.
Everything in your closet should be an item you really love, something that you purchased with the intention of keeping for a long time, be it a classic blazer or vivid floral skirt. Choose quality garments that are well made and beautiful. Classic collections, that can easily be used and reused as well as everyday essentials, that’ll be with you for the long run. Like the blue hoodie, you borrowed from your varsity boyfriend on that epic weekend away, and never returned.
Plus, the idea of owning something cheap that you only wear a few times feels pretty horrible in light of the climate crisis. Bottom line? It’s almost always better to use what already exists. We’re phasing out single-use plastic from our lives, and we should think about our clothes the same way.