Of all the ‘R’s of sustainability, repair is one that is most often overlooked. The emphasis is often on reducing consumption, on reuse, and recycling. But when it comes to sustainable fashion, repair is another ‘R’ that can be very important.
One of the complaints or ‘road blocks’ that comes up frequently in discussion is the high cost of sustainable clothes. It is undoubtedly true that ethical and environmentally friendly clothing does cost more in pure financial terms. Or course, it saves in other ways and it is important to remember that not all costs are financial.
But you do not need to spend a fortune to give your wardrobe a sustainability overhaul. Of course, you can justify expenditure on a few key sustainable fashion pieces, because they last a lot longer than ‘disposable’ fast fashion clothes. And buying second hand, of course, also has its place.
But we can also save money on sustainable fashion by rethinking our attitude to our clothes. All too often, we have forgotten what came as second nature to our ancestors – repair, or an attitude of ‘make do and mend’.
Rather than throwing away clothes when they are showing signs of wear and tear, we can mend them to keep them in use for longer. This significantly reduces the cost-per-wear of our wardrobe items.
By sewing on new buttons and fasteners, mending small rips, re-making seams etc. we can keep clothes in use for longer. And all we need are a few basic skills – skills that would have been a common part of life in days gone by.
Too many of us have forgotten how to repair our clothing and other everyday items we use. By re-learning these basic skills we can be part of the great re-skilling, and contribute to the move to a more sustainable way of life.