This is a guest post written by Marcella Bechtel and Kara Wright of GOOD girls ATX, a local organization that's building wardrobes that are GOOD for the planet and its’ people through events + education.
Spring has officially sprung in Texas – birds are chirping, flowers are blooming, and that pollen is flowing (hello, allergies!). Our planet is busy nurturing her babies, old and new growth. Meanwhile we, susceptible shoppers of the Global North (“the economically advanced countries of North America, Europe, Australia, E Asia, etc.” – Collins Dictionary), are being bombarded with marketing messages about ‘spring cleaning.’ Originally a phrase used to describe cleaning the literal dust from our homes after a long winter, fashion brands have manipulated the tradition into a ‘spring closet cleanout’ in which you simply replace those items with new ones later on.
If springtime is the planet’s time to bloom, why are brands teaching us to purge and pollute? What if instead we decided to shift that tradition to one that nurtures the wardrobes we already have? By cherishing the items we already have, we avoid the environmental and social harm associated with the production and distribution of new fashion items.
In honor of spring & Earth Day, GOOD girls ATX invites you to nurture your wardrobe which in turn nurtures the planet, your community, & your creativity. Below are some tips on how to get started…
Nurture your Planet: We’re big fans of re-homing items that are no longer serving you (might we suggest a seasonal clothing swap by GOOD girls ATX), but the absolute best action you can take for the planet is to wear & care for the items already in your closet
Wear what you have and only give up the things you know someone else will love more than you.
Sparingly wash items (especially jeans) using cold water settings and air drying whenever possible. This will preserve color & shape, prevent shrinkage & breakage and save energy!
Mend, repair, & hem. If you don’t know how, one of your friends might. And if you want to learn, we have workshops coming up to help you!
Stop shopping, first or second-hand. Consumers in the Global North buy five times more clothes than they did in 1980’s, but only wear those clothes 7 times on average. Replace that void with other activities that could actually help yourself and/or the planet.
Nurture your Community: Living in the Global North, where the majority of clothes are sold but barely any are manufactured, we’ve become so removed from where and how the clothes we use are made. Building relationships with local vendors not only humanizes the industry, but ensures more ethical practices, supports the local creative community & improves economic vitality.
Avoid shopping from large online marketplaces and support local, independent shops. Buying directly from the makers or those who represent them maximizes the amount of value that stays within our communities. This even applies to second-hand marketplaces like Poshmark & DePop!
When purchasing new, invest in natural fibers (like cotton, linen & silk) that will last longer, can more easily be upcycled/downcycled, and are less likely to land in your local landfill.
Start budgeting for charitable donations. Transitioning to a more sustainable lifestyle often includes cost savings. Consider donating those costs directly to local charities that you know and love.
Studies show that materialism is tied to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues. Realize that your possessions aren’t making you happier because life is more fulfilling with community & experiences.
Nurture your Creativity: Fashion and style is a huge component of self-expression. With the amount of clothing items in circulation, creating a unique style for yourself is more possible than ever. But with the amount of new items in production, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by choice or feel pressured to adopt trends. Finding new ways to wear & style clothes is a great way to consume less, build your personal style and exercise your creativity.
Upcycling (also known as creative reuse) is the process of transitioning unwanted or useless items into something with an increased perceived value! Naturally dye or accessorize that stained top (maybe even at our Earth Day Upcycling event on 4/22 – check out tickets here). Another option is to downcycle old t-shirts or towels into rags (goodbye paper towels!), household accessories, and so much more.
When in doubt, you don’t have to throw it out. Remember that trends come in and out and that inspiration can strike at any time. Just because a piece isn’t working for you this season, doesn’t mean you have no future together. We’ve all regretted getting rid of something later on- maybe as much as we’ve regretted buying something.
If an item in your closet isn’t getting worn, style it a different way. Dresses can be shirts, shirts can be skirts. Still don’t get it? Seek professional help. There are sustainability-minded stylists all around who are willing to help you reinvent your wardrobe. “Your style gets better the more that you know your stuff” – Sam, Lotte.V1
Remind yourself that shopping is not the only way to spend your time or be creative. Corporations realize that they can exploit our need to express our identities. If you remove yourself from this constant cycle of consumption, you give yourself time to seek out other creative outlets, such as pottery lessons, gardening, volunteering, baking, etc.
Although spring is traditionally a time to reimagine and reinvigorate, these tips for nurturing your wardrobe can be applied year round. Different seasons simply mean different conditions under which to grow… and we love growth, baby!