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Meet the new 3 Rs for your Low-Waste Closet

Out with reduce, reuse and recycle. In with refuse, repurpose and rehome.

Clothes hanging

Published on April 08, 2019

With consumption patterns at an all-time high and the environment requiring us to take real immediate action, we must turn to our buying habits in order to reduce the impact fashion has on the planet and its inhabitants.

By a taking a fresh look at the 3 Rs, we will give you tips to guide you in your low-carbon, low-waste and low-cost journey. 

From Reduce to Refuse

Saying no to that branded free t-shirt or the latest “cold shoulder” sweater is an easy way to avoid having to purge. By limiting the number of items that you have in the first place, you will be taking a more conscious approach to reducing the number of items you need to dispose of after.

Try consciously refusing clothing items by:

  1. Paying attention to materials. Clothing made from quality materials like cotton, wool and bamboo are likely to last longer and are less harmful to the environment. Unlike synthetics, when their natural fibers break apart, they will eventually decompose.  
  2. Buying timeless classics. Try shopping for clothing will never go out of style or will always be “you”! For example, simple white tees and blue jeans have stood the test of time.
  3. Avoiding fast fashion. This is clothing that is mass-produced quickly and inexpensively in response to the latest fashion trends. Look into the brands you shop for and see how they are produced.

From Reuse to Repurpose

It’s inevitable — stains, breaks and rips happen. We can only reuse clothing for so long until they eventually lose their wearability. When shirts, jeans and jackets reach the end of their wearing life, you may be able to turn them into something else!

Try breathing new life into those old textiles by:

  1. Making cleaning rags. It’s easy to rip apart old textiles and save them for cleaning rags! Instead of paper towels, use these and throw them in the wash to use them again and again.
  2. Turning old t-shirts into tote bags. A few cuts and stitches on a tomato sauce-stained tee can turn it into a perfectly good tote bag! Bring these along instead of using plastic shopping bags for your everyday shopping.
  3. Recycling your textiles. If you’re not feeling crafty, many retailers now offer textile recycling in their stores. They will sort through the items and turn them into rags or break apart the fibers to turn them into new clothes. Next time you’re shopping, keep your eye out for these recycling stations!

From Recycle to Rehome

All of the items in your closet that have lost their allure, gone off trend or never looked that good to begin with are destined for the donation bin. But with only 25 per cent of donations to second hand clothing stores making their way to the shop floor, many of your pre-loved items end up shipped across the world to be sold as rags or recycled.

Try giving your preloved items a new home by:

  1. Swapping instead of shopping. Biannually, Evergreen Brick Works hosts Drop, Swap & Shop, where you can donate your preloved items for tickets to “swap” for treasures at the Swap Mall. It’s a great way to find truly unique items and give things you don’t need a new home. Live outside of Toronto? Host your own swap!
  2. Selling to a consignment store. Have a fabulous designer bag that you’ve been hanging on to for years but was just never “you”? There are lots of great consignment stores that will happily resell your beautiful items for you.
  3. Trading or selling online. There are whole worlds of trading and reselling for you to explore online. Kijiji, Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist are popular options to make a few bucks off of your preloved items. Alternatively, try Canadian-born BUNZ, an online trading platform where people offer items they no longer need and trade for items they’re after!