How to use your clothes to save the planet

Even the UN thinks fashion is a major contributor to climate change. So what can we do?

Model wears a dress from fabric saved from a landfill

When I was invited to the United Nations for a political forum, a few important issues were discussed; the most pressing issue was Climate Change.

And fashion is a large contributor to Climate change.

In the run-up to the Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in September 2019, the fashion industry has recognised that it has a crucial role in the realisation of the goals of the Paris Agreement.

In December 2018, 43 major brands and suppliers had signed the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action with the United Nations.

The goal: net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. 

Other initiatives in the industry are moving in the same direction. This goes hand-in-hand with consumers’ increased awareness of the choices.

The textile industry contributes around ten per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions — it uses more energy than the aviation and shipping industries combined, according to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). 

The industry’s impact is not limited to global carbon emissions. It also produces about 20 per cent of all waste water and 85 per cent of textiles end up in landfills or are incinerated when the materials cannot be reused.

The UN has initiated a UN campaign called ‘ActNow’, which helps educate and encourage individual behavioural change, mainly by adjusting behavioural patterns.

The decisions we make in our daily lives affect our planet. By changing our habits and routines, and making choices that are less harmful to the environment, we have the power to confront the climate challenge.

Here are a few small ways that you can use to help save the planet.

Reuse old sari borders

You can cut the borders from the saris that can no longer be used and stitch them over a new outfit. Add them to new saris or suits or even long kurtis and dupattas.

Convert old saris

With 5 metres of cloth, you have a lot to spare. Convert saris into other outfits like anarkalis or kurtis or even long skirts.

Convert old t-shirts into bags

Cut out the sleeves and the neckline to make it wider. Sew up the bottom of the t-shirt and you have your new grocery bag ready. Extra material can even be turned into trendy head-bands.

Convert jeans into skirts

All you need to do is remove the inner and outer seams of the jeans, lay them flat and open, sew the sides together and the front and back. The length can be altered and you have a fashionable mini.

Convert your old Sweaters

Make cosy pillow cases out of your old sweaters, and you are all set for winter.

T-shirt quilts

Everyone has favorite print t-shirts they don’t want to get rid of. Cut squares around the prints and sew up the pieces to make a patch-work quilt.

These DIY techniques will give your clothes a second life and will also be one small step towards saving the planet.

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