Mend your clothes & save the world

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Why mending should be the next step on your eco-journey

This article first appeared in Re:think Magazine.

Words & Images by Renee Williams of That Perfect Hour

 

The celebration of Slow Fashion Season is a perfect time to consider how we look after and appreciate the clothes we already own. Learning to mend your own clothes is an important step, but more than that, mending can lead us to bigger things.

WHY DO WE NEED TO HELP OUR CLOTHES LAST LONGER?

No doubt you have seen the shocking statistics regarding our fast-increasing consumption of clothing. The numbers are so large it is difficult to understand the scale of the problem. Greenpeace tells us that the average person buys a staggering 60% more clothing than they did 15 years ago. Now, think of this in terms of your own wardrobe, and then of all the wardrobes in your street, in your suburb, your postcode, your whole country. That’s a crazy amount of clothing!

Not only are we buying more clothing but we are also throwing clothing away at a much faster rate. Textile and clothing waste is increasing at alarming speed and this waste is predominately going to landfill, or being sent to developing nations. We cannot keep buying and discarding clothing like this—the environmental impact is just too great.

Choosing clothing more carefully and keeping those garments for longer, are just two impactful ways that we can make a difference as consumers.

WHAT IS THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF MENDING CLOTHES?

Simple repairs to help your clothes last longer can have a huge impact in the longterm. Waste and Resources Action Program UK says that extending the life of clothes by just 9 months would reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by about 20 – 30%.

If the most sustainable clothes are the ones already in your wardrobe, then it makes sense to keep these clothes in the best condition possible.

While mending your own clothing is impactful by itself, the impact is expanded when others take notice of what you are doing. Wearing your mended clothes, stitching while on a train, or talking with friends about your mending, are all encouraging ways to amplify the slow fashion message.

WHAT CAN MENDING DO FOR YOU?

Taking the time to hand-stitch a repair is a beautifully mindful way to spend an hour. With more of us leaning towards a slower pace of life, the rhythm of mending lets the mind wander as the hands perfect their craft.

Mending is an investment of time, but also of hope and care. Once you invest, you will be rewarded time, and time again, with garments you love to wear. Not in the least because your unique stitches will add personality and tell a story.

Our throw-away culture is the only one many of us have ever known and yet, there is something satisfying to be said about working with our hands and having the self-reliance to repair ourselves. Once you learn to make simple repairs on your clothes that sense of empowerment can flow on to different repairs and new skills.

And so, learning to mend can help save not only your clothes but give you a new outlook on life, one that will potentially help us save the planet.

Renee’s top mending tips:

· Ask around – do you know someone who could show you the mending basics? Maybe even lend you some tools and supplies to get started?

· Use what you can find – find a local or online mending class in your area. There are also some fabulous mending books, ask at your local library.

· Reduce the stakes – start by mending something you are less invested in (like a tea towel or your old PJs), that way you won’t become so disheartened if the stitches are a little wonky.

· Forgive a less than perfect result – your mending is supposed to look like it was stitched by hand. Hand stitching adds charm and personality to a garment and allows you to truly wear your values.

· Be bold – you can get the hang of this! Anything worth learning takes time and persistence. Your clothes are already damaged, you cannot make the damage worse, so just try your best.

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