DIY : Can DIY help save the planet? It’s worth a try – Anne-So – Medium

Photo by Volha Flaxeco

There’s a saying that clothes worth wearing are worth repairing. In a society where the environmental cost for cheap fashion has never been so high and so blatantly ignored, is there still time to change the way we view and consume fashion?

As a DIY enthusiast, creating my own wardrobe of clothes is a creative and political act that has appealed to me since my early 20s. Tired of wearing plastic shoes and polyester clothes that hung by the dozen on racks, I began to question how I was contributing to resource depletion and social inequalities. In North America alone, 15 million tons of clothes are dumped into landfills each year. A denim jacket takes 10–12 months to decompose and lycra clothing takes between 20–200 years to disappear. Despite new recycling technologies and efforts made by local governments to implement recycling banks, only 2.62 million tons were recycled in 2016 according to Greenpeace, 2.14 million were combusted for energy recovery and a whopping 10.46 million tons were still sent to the landfill. The numbers are staggering, but hardly surprising considering that the average American throws away approximately 80 pounds of used clothing per person and only about 0.1% of recycled fiber is collected by charities. And things don’t seem to be slowing down, global clothing production is said to have doubled from to 2000 et 2014. The average person buys 60% more items of clothing every year and keeps them for about half as long as 15 years ago.

But things have started to shift and the DIY movement has made a strong comeback. What if we went back to making things ourselves? What if we made room for our own creativity rather than rely on the exploitation of other human beings? Ok, fair trade is great but it’s clearly not being taken far enough by big selling brands.

With DIY workshops on the rise, it would seem that the fashion industry is witnessing the rebirth of a bygone era of self-sufficiency. A renewed obsession for knitting kits and sleek haberdasheries located in the trendiest neighborhoods is a sign of a cultural shift towards consumption-awareness. The sudden interest in sustainable living and “slow fashion” reflects not only a political desire to circumvent issues related to sweatshop labor but our innate need, as human beings, to create things with our hands. A basic need that has largely been put to sleep by globalization.

According to Amy Twigger Holroyd author of Folk Fashion, Understanding Home Made Clothes, the economic crash of 2008 has also sparked a new interest in making. Although, this doesn’t mean that a decrease in income necessarily triggers an increase in making activity as it is proved that making one’s own clothes actually costs more than buying. In fact, because the DIY trend is on the rise, haberdasheries are bumping the prices back up after years of economic decline. It would seem, therefore, that Diy is more of an ideological process than a financial one. Maybe we’re looking back to times of simplicity and deeper meaning for comfort and reassurance that the world is not spinning out of control.

Finally, one of the biggest driving factors in slow fashion making is the advent of Internet and its connective power. Internet provides spaces for communities, networks, and subcultures to grow and connect. Companies such as the French start-up “Les Talents d’Alphonse” allows retired members of the community to share their craft with young urbanites looking to practice manual skills. These young city dwellers reflect a globally growing frustration felt by many who feel worn down by the daily grind. People are becoming increasingly aware that evolution didn’t make bodies so they’d be plonked behind computers all day (colon cancer, vitamin D deficiency, anyone?).

So if it’s a matter of health, future and general wellbeing isn’t it high time we started to wear more of the things that have meaning rather than disposable cheap garments that sacrifice our humanity and planet? 2019 is upon us, choice and frenetic consumption is no longer a luxury, it’s the noose suffocating our civilization. The time has come for change, starting with our wardrobes.


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