According to the NSW Environment Protection Authority, Australian’s purchase 27 kilograms of textiles each year.
Whilst this puts us behind the Americans at 37 kilograms, it speaks volumes when we compare our consumption to developing countries like India.
The average Indian only buys 5 kilos of textiles per annum.
And to get a feel of the scale of 27 kilograms of textiles – a large man’s pair of jeans weighs around 650 grams and a flat queen-sized quality sheet around 1.2 kilogram.
On average we buy the equivalent each year of 41 pairs of jeans.
Buying clothes and bed linen is inherently not a problem. The biggest problem is purchasing cheaply made synthetic clothing.
While some unwanted clothes are donated by the consumer to charities only a proportion are on-sold, some are turned into rags and lots gets sent overseas to developing nations.
We transport our cheap clothes to poorer countries where much of it ends up in their landfill. Synthetics don’t biodegrade.
We need a radical mind shift – to buy less, to buy quality and plan our wardrobes better.
How many of us are guilty of purchasing some item of vibrant or sparkly clothes on a whim? Definitely me. A peruse through your local charity shop will display countless items from cheap stores that linger on their racks emblazoned with weird phrases and tacky sequins or fake lace.
One way around the whimsical buying is to plan a ‘capsule’ wardrobe.
A capsule wardrobe consists of basics, lots of tops and bottoms that can be mixed and matched to create a range of combinations. Your basics should be in relatively neutral colours like black, taupe or grey and white.
The bling (if you desire) comes from accessories – the scarf, sparkly or chunky jewellery and a belt.
I have started mapping a capsule workplace wardrobe.
It consists of a black skirt, black trousers, a white (Chinese collared) shirt, two simple tops (one taupe, one black) and a vest, probably taupe. The vest could be teamed with the shirt in cooler weather and worn buttoned in summer.
Colour is provided with a scarf and a necklace in turquoise and blue.
If you work for yourself or in a more creative field go crazy with pattern and fabric.
You may already have pieces that can contribute to your basic wardrobe. Aim to gather items slowly and focus on buying well-made clothes or make them yourself from natural fabrics, like linen, wool and silk. Add a jacket in a neural colour.
To introduce a more casual feel to the wardrobe – add jeans. Jeans can be teamed with any of the upper body pieces. And check out the jeans in the 2nd hand shops – there are lots.
If your sewing skills are rusty, CIT Solutions offers short courses like ‘Easy skirts and trousers’ and if you have no sewing skills whatsoever you can take their introductory course and make a shopping bag.
Keep a record of your capsule wardrobe in your phone so next time you are tempted to buy something on impulse, check if it fits your plan.