Four Reasons to Buy Fewer Clothes This Year
Save money and help the environment.
Each year Americans spend $1,700 on clothing, according to Elizabeth L. Cline, author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. What do they purchase for this amount? About 64 items of apparel yearly. Before writing her book, Cline herself admitted to owning more than 350 pieces of clothing, including 61 tops, 60 T-shirts and 34 tank tops. She says Americans spend so much on clothing thanks to the rise of fast-fashion chains such as H&M and Forever 21. But the rate at which Americans consume clothing has a number of consequences, including on the environment. Here are four reasons to buy fewer clothes this year.
Cheap Clothes Aren’t Meant to Last: Fashion these days is all about bargains, says Cline. But clothing bargains are deceptive given that most of the garments found in trendy clothing chains are made of synthetic materials that won't hold up well for more than a few washes. Rather than buying several tops for $20 or less, Cline says it’s best to spend more money on a couple of high quality garments that will last for years.
Even Luxury Goods Aren’t Worth It: As the fast fashion craze reaches a fever pitch, luxury brands have cheapened the quality of their clothes to compete. Consumer Reports, for example, rated a $7 polo shirt from Target higher than similar shirts from Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger. Cline says the smartest move consumers can make is to support independent clothing brands and designers who make their clothes locally. Just 3 percent of clothing is made in America, meaning that the garment workers who produce the clothes you wear often earn less than minimum wage for their labor.
Goodwill Doesn’t Need Your Clothes: If you’re a clotheshorse, you may think that buying clothes every week isn’t wasteful because you donate them to charitable organizations such as Goodwill or the Salvation Army. There’s just one problem: “We are throwing away 68 pounds of textiles per person per year and donating such a staggering volume of clothes that a majority of our donations to charity have to be sold to textile recyclers who then sell more than half of our used clothes overseas, largely to Africa,” Cline says.
Mass-Produced Fashion Harms The Environment: Worldwide, more than 80 billion garments are manufactured each year. In Great Britain alone, the garment industry has produced more than 70 million tons of wastewater. In China, where most of the world’s clothes are made, pollution has become a major problem. And in Cambodia, in 2011, 284 workers at a clothing factory collapsed after inhaling toxic fumes from shirts they were producing.
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