**these pages are in development. check back soon for more information and resources**
Clothing has become so cheap that many people purchase items they wear for only one season. Americans discard almost 68 pounds of textiles per person per year.
The average cost we pay for basic items-- t-shirts, socks, jeans-- has declined as much as 60% in thirty years. Lower prices means that many of us don't care so much about our clothes. It also means we're often buying clothes that are lower in quality and don't last as long.
It's time to reconsider our relationship to the clothing and textiles we own or plan to purchase. As Kate Fletcher, author and professor of sustainable design, puts it: "Garments may be sold as a product, but they are lived as a process." Her collaborative Craft of Use project aims to alter how we have come to see our clothing; rather than easily discardable, clothing and textiles are malleable and can become more useful to us over time.
There's much more behind a "Made In" label than the country where your clothes are sewn. There are probably stories you could tell about your own clothes, especially the items you've owned a long time. What if we cared more for our clothes?
Read on to learn about ways to change your habits as they relate to your attitude towards consumption and the long term care of your clothing and textiles.
Purchase fewer clothes.
When you do need new clothes, try to purchase from brands with a public commitment to worker's rights and environmental sustainability. Author Elizabeth Cline shares this list of companies on her website and this shopping directory. The Fair Wear Foundation also provides a list of clothing brands that have joined them to improve labor conditions in factories around the world.
Also look for new clothes within your community: there may be small-scale clothing producers in your town, talented tailors, and up-and-coming designers who are working with recycled fabrics in creative ways. When we screened Cotton Road in Troy, New York, we found Ekologic, a clothing company that works with recycled cashmere. In North Carolina, we found TS Designs, a sustainable t-shirt company (who makes our Cotton Road t-shirt!), and Raleigh Denim, a company that makes great jeans.
Be willing to pay more.
It's still a relatively new phenomenon that clothing has become so cheap. Author Elizabeth Cline asks, "It’s amazing to think that a hundred years ago, at the birth of ready-made clothing as we know it, women would drop six hundred dollars for a Parisian knock-off. Today a fashionable dress is cheaper than a bag of dog food. How did we get here?" For a short history of this trend, see Cline's blog post, The History of a Cheap Dress.