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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

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:


Rated: Good
woman wearing bleed clothing

bleed was founded in 2008 by German skateboarder Michael Spitzbarth. bleed's mission is to inspire a sustainable lifestyle that excites and easily integrates into our daily life, by creating ecological, vegan, and fairly produced sports and streetwear.

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Shop bleed.


Rated: Good

Barcelona based allSisters is a sexy, more 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 beachwear designs with pride and prepare to ride the wave of compliments headed your way.

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Shop allSisters.

Loop Swim

Rated: Good
two girls playing in water wearing colourful sustainable swimwear by Loop Swim

Founded by two women from the US and India and headquartered in Shanghai, Loop Swim is a brand on a mission to close the loop on waste and promote circular design. It transforms post-consumer plastic bottles into phenomenal REPREVE UP50+ sun protective swimwear for men, women, and kids. Its trendless, high-quality designs are developed to retain shape and colour swim after swim.

Find most items in sizes XS-XL.

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Shop Loop Swim.

zero waste daniel

Rated: Good

zero waste daniel creates more sustainable, handmade in Brooklyn, and always one of a kind unisex clothing.

Find most items in sizes XS-3XL.

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Shop zero waste daniel.

The R Collective

Rated: Great

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 lower-impact 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.

The garments are typically offered in two sizes: XS-S and M-L.

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Shop The R Collective.


Rated: Good

Stunning designs, beautifully made, to the highest standards—Kalaurie is one of those labels that gives you a rush of excitement when you first find it. This is a Melbourne, Australia brand that makes capsule collections, with an emphasis on signature shirt tailoring. There are many reasons to love Kalaurie, and it rates highly in all three categories.

The pieces are available in 2XS-2XL.

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Shop Kalaurie.

Vitamin A

Rated: Good
woman smiling on sand wearing sustainable swimwear by Vitamin A

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

Find the pieces in sizes XS-XL.

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Shop Vitamin A.

The Social Outfit

Rated: Good

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.

Find styles in 2XS-3XL.

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Shop the Social Outfit.


Rated: Great
Someone wearing a white collared shirt, a black jumpsuit, and cardigan by Dorsu.

Based in Cambodia, Dorsu creates everyday basics and key signature favourites that form the core of any conscious wardrobe.

You can find the full range in XS-XL.

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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.

Elvis & Kresse

Rated: Good
orange elvis and kresse bag

Elvis & Kresse upcycles reclaimed materials into more sustainable luxury lifestyle accessories. The collection is handmade and 50% of profits are donated to charities.

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Shop Elvis & Kresse.


Rated: Good

WeAreNativ creates high fashion swimwear with a conscience. It uses a high-proportion of lower-impact 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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