Old-school ways of doing things tend to be “green”. The reason for this is that traditional methods are low-waste. Waste is not green. It’s not green even if what you throw away is vegan leather (ahem, that’s an oil derivative) and bamboo knit. You’re still throwing it away!
However, if you buy good craftsmanship, with a conscious consumer mindset, where you are thinking carefully about how your purchase meshes with your current wardrobe and the wardrobe that you’re working towards, you can use an item for years and maybe even reuse it. (Depending on the amount of time you have to play with). This results in substantially less waste and less pressure on the environment.
Go ahead and research the textile industry. I dare you.
Or… you could buy your clothes/fabric with tomorrow in mind. Right now I’m sitting here in a beautiful and soft flannel shirt that my mom bought from Land’s End oh… 15 years ago at least. I wear it over my tanktops in the wintertime. Add a denim skirt that was one of my first makes from my better sewing machine … so 5 or 7 years on that… and yes, a tank top that I bought this season.
I understand that the tank top part of this equation is something I’ll use up relatively quickly. That’s why I don’t make them and do buy them cheaply. They have little worth.
It’s time to talk about cost/wear. Once again, you’ll read about this in your older style books, as they try to convince you to spend more money on your basics and less on your “of-the-moment” items. While this works in the corporate world, I find that it’s more difficult to pin it down when everything is made of cheap cottonish knit. But let’s talk about it anyway.
Blouses – I made up four blouses at the beginning of 2014. I’m still wearing all of them. One of them has gotten worn pretty much every week, the rest rotate in every other week *at least*. Let’s call it 30 wears each, which is a very conservative number. I’ve noticed recently that because I wear them all the time, and because they are made of textiles appropriate to my warm part of the country, two of the four (the ones I like best) are really showing wear. They’re not longer “best” shirts.. definitely second best (meaning, “you need to be demoted to grocery stores, parks and long walks – not church, not date night”).
Each blouse used about 1.5 yards of fabric. I didn’t pay more than $8/yard for any of the fabrics – so that’s about $15/blouse. Or .50c/wear. Pretty decent, really. If I’d paid $25/yd for fabric… I’d still be at $35/blouse, which would be barely over a dollar/wear – and they’re good for more wear yet. Probably I’ll get it down to a quarter/wear before I toss them (at which point they’ll not be fit for the thrift store. Too nubbly for the rag bin – that’s for old knits). (Why yes, this tank-top does have a thing to do after it’s not wearable. DH is forever needing rags for whatever it is he does in the garage).
So… what if I bought a knit shirt at a store where it was $7 and I got three wears out of it before the sparklies started to wear off … hm.. that’s over a dollar/wear.
Which shirt cost less in the long run?
Jeans likewise. I noticed yesterday that my favorite denim skirt wants demoting to the “around the house” function… well, just like YOUR faded and slightly stained jeans. I made it two years ago. (http://hearth-tobelovely.blogspot.com/2012/08/wardrobe-basic-denim.html) Twice a week wear, most weeks that weren’t too hot to face denim… that’s 200 wears at LEAST. (Very probably more). I spent about $40 making it – wide skirts take a lot of fabric, and denim is more expensive than thin cotton. Less than a quarter/wear. And it has plenty of life left in it, even if that life is gardening, cleaning, and painting rather than going out and about.
I hope you won’t be surprised to see a replacement next spring?
Oh. And I have three denim skirts total. I don’t wear jeans. Just these skirts for all my “jean” needs. Not 12. Three. Less space in my closet. Less fabric used/produced. Less waste when they finally do wear completely out.
Craftsmanship and thought… they’ll save you money and they’ll make our planet just a tiny bit happier.