#REUSEOLUTION: Fight the Climate Crisis With a 2020 Commitment to Recycled and Upcycled Fashion - Good On You
03 Jan

#REUSEOLUTION: Fight the Climate Crisis With a 2020 Commitment to Recycled and Upcycled Fashion

I began my relationship with fashion sometime in my early teens. I moved to Australia, signed a modelling contract, and discovered blue-light discos all around the same time. It was all wildly exciting and filled with colour.

As a tiny (but tall) teenibopper in the industry, I watched and learned as trends rolled past and back again. I slowly figured out designer clothing, what I liked and what I didn’t. I named dropped and brand bragged whenever possible. But most importantly, I realised that I really loved getting dressed up—which remains true to this day.

Almost a decade later, sometime in my early twenties, I started a new lifelong relationship.

After returning to the Pacific Islands (still wearing my beloved trendy leathers and patterned polyester), I passionately joined the climate movement. My family have been in Fiji for four generations, and our home is a mere four metres from the high tide mark. Storms have ravaged our shores and have scared me beyond sleep more nights than I care to count. Friends have loved and lost to the changing skies and the deep dark injustices that fuel this crisis. So upon returning home, I became very mad, very quickly.

It was then that I discovered the insidious ignorance I wore upon my back. While I adored being adorned with glitz and glam, I had absolutely no idea about the industry that I had proudly promoted. When I joined Greenpeace as the Head of the Pacific region, I had to put my anger aside and focus on what could get us out of this mess. What needed to change. Who needed to change. How we could help make those changes.

With a heavy heart I learned that the fashion industry is one of the largest contributors to the climate crisis.

The fashion industry is responsible for around 10% of the problem which is the same as all of Russia, Australia, Indonesia and France combined. Or more than international flights and shipping put together.

It’s estimated that around two-thirds of the harmful climate impact over the lifetime of a garment comes at the raw materials stage. What makes it even worse is 65% of all materials made are polyester, which is essentially a plastic. Aside from being a nightmare to biodegrade, it is made from crude oil, and processing the raw material is really energy-intensive. Even natural materials like traditionally farmed cotton contribute hugely to emissions. While cotton’s carbon footprint is lower than that of polyester, the fertiliser used releases nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas with 300 times more warming power than CO2.

So, what can we do?

We all love clothes because they make us feel great and help us express ourselves. But we also enjoy breathing and living and, you know, having a planet.

In order for fashion to limit its emissions, we all need to help. We need to drastically change the way we buy clothes and ultimately encourage our favourite brands to produce them differently. It’s bizarre that the production of new materials is a huge part of the issue when we already have so much material (and other products) in circulation that we can use instead!

We have been buying clothes at unprecedented rates. Australia’s fast-fashion industry, for example, is booming and has grown 21% in the past five years. Sadly, we are buying faster and binning faster. We currently send over 500,000 tonnes of textiles to landfill every year and even 25% of op-shop clothes end up being tossed.

The most ironic part of this whole catastrophe is that styles and trends are often revivals from past eras. The beautiful thing about the fashion industry is we are comfortable with the idea of bringing things back around. We love to keep things from being forgotten. We already recycle ideas, now we just need to keep the material itself circulating.

The silver lining of how much we have made is that we have a lot we can reuse.

Instead of polluting our skies, our land, our waters and our futures for the sake of re-making something we already have plenty of, let’s show brands that we support them recycling and upcycling. In fact, we prefer it!

This year, as a New Year’s resolution, support brands that reuse offcuts, old attire, plastic bottles, resell vintage, remake, fix and stitch instead of flick! Send a message to all brands that we already have everything we need to have a flourishing fashion industry. We still love getting dressed up but we are also ready and willing to change things up.

#REUSEOLUTION is a pledge to only wear recycled & upcycled in 2020. Sign up at www.reuseolution.org

You can find some of the best brands already using their thinking caps and earth warrior hearts to upcycle and recycle on the GoodOnYou app. Here are some of our favourites:

Bleed

Rated: Great

Ecological, vegan and fairly produced sports and streetwear from Germany.

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Shop Bleed.

Space Between

Rated: Great

An initiative at Massey University's College of Creative Arts which addresses the wastefulness of the current textile/clothing system using design thinking.

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Shop Space Between.

allSisters

Rated: Good

Barcelona based allSisters is a sexy, sustainable swimwear brand that cares about the earth. The brand uses the highest quality recycled fabrics to create high-end swimsuits and raises money for biodiversity protection non-profit Surfers Against Sewage, tackling plastic pollution. Rock these thoughtful, innovative ethical beachwear designs with pride and prepare to ride the wave of compliments headed your way!

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Shop allSisters.

Sage Larock

Rated: Good

Made in-house by a small team in L.A., sustainable luxury brand Sage Larock produces timeless swimwear that is sure to turn heads. Its stunning piece are made from an Italian recycled plastic fabric that is high-quality and long-lasting – and a percentage of profits from each sale goes to support marine conservation non-profits!

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Shop Sage Larock.

zero waste daniel

Rated: Great

Zero waste daniel creates sustainable, eco-friendly, handmade in Brooklyn and always one of a kind clothing.

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Shop Zero Waste Daniel.

The R Collective

Rated: Great

Offers

The R Collective – Dresses

Cut using waste-reducing design techniques, these flattering dresses evoke characters of femininity and timeless design. 30% off selected dresses. (Ends: 4 AUG)

Shop now

The R Collective – Bottoms

Redefine what elegance means with this mix of asymmetric and tailored silhouettes, all crafted from rescued luxurious fabrics. 30% off selected bottoms. (Ends: 4 AUG)

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The R Collective – Tops

Upcycled tops that offer a relaxed fit suitable for effortless layering from day to evening. 30% off selected tops. (Ends: 4 AUG)

Shop now

The R Collective's womenswear collections are made by reusing rescued excess materials from leading luxury brands and reputable manufacturers. The brand uses a high-proportion of eco-friendly materials, which limits the amount of chemicals, water and wastewater used in production. It also ensures the payment of a living wage in its supply chain, which is why we rated it 'Great'!

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Shop The R Collective.

Kalaurie

Rated: Great

Stunning designs, beautifully made, to the highest ethical standards - Kalaurie is one of those labels that gives a rush of excitement when you first find it. This is a Melbourne brand that makes capsule collections, with an emphasis on signature shirt tailoring. There are so many reasons to love them, and their strong sustainability credentials mean we rate them ‘Great’.

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Shop Kalaurie.

Vitamin A

Rated: Great

Made locally in California, Vitamin A’s collections of swimwear use a high proportion of eco-friendly materials, including recycled nylon. The brand also uses a waterless process to print its designs with, reducing its chemical and water usage!

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Shop Vitamin A.

The Social Outfit

Rated: Great

Accredited by Ethical Clothing Australia, the Social Outfit has a social mission to employ and train workers from refugee and new migrant communities, you can be confident your purchase is directly contributing to a better life for minorities who need it most. Each piece tells an amazing human story, as the team taps into the creativity and diversity of these amazing people and collaborates with them to create new designs each season.

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Shop the Social Outfit.

Dorsu

Rated: Great

Everyday basics and key signature favourites that form the core of any conscious wardrobe.

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Shop Dorsu.

Yuki Threads

Rated: Good

Yuki Threads is a premium Australian snowboarding apparel brand.

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Shop Yuki Threads.

Jack Wolfskin

Rated: Good

Jack Wolfskin has set good labour policies and traces all its supply chain.

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Shop Jack Wolfskin.

Elvis & Kresse

Rated: Great

Elvis & Kresse upcycle reclaimed materials into sustainable luxury lifestyle accessories, all ethically handmade with 50% of profits going back to charities.

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Shop Elvis & Kresse.

WeAreNativ

Rated: Good

WeAreNativ creates high fashion swimwear with an eco-conscience. It uses a high-proportion of eco-friendly materials, including recycled fabrics and Econyl.

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Shop WeAreNativ.

Editor's note

feature image via Unsplash. To support our work, we may earn a commission on sales made using our offers code or affiliate links.

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