CHOOSE TO REFUSE
We are now well into "Plastic Free July" but how does that relate to fashion? And how can we turn a month of no plastic into a lifetime of significantly reduced plastic?
Image by Courtney Holm - washed up plastics from "pristine" Wilsons Promontory
Choose to Refuse
For the past week, A.BCH has set up a shop and studio space within a high profile retail shopping centre in the Melbourne CBD. Dwelling within this fishbowl of a retail store has given me some insight into the mysterious minds of the "shopper". I am certain I used to be like-minded with the "shopper" once, however, that now feels like a distant memory and I am struggling to relate.
Two things have caught my attention and I'm sure they are connected. The first is that every single store around us features giant decals and posters in the windows reading "sale" in every font, colour and style imaginable. The second is that people walking around the centre are carrying bulging plastic bags.
I will assume that all of these dear humans do not know about Plastic Free July. Or maybe they do, but haven't considered how it relates to fashion, or shopping habits. So here is a new list of how to be plastic free this July (and every month after that) and specifically how it pertains to fashion.
1. Polyester is plastic.
Yup. It's true. That swishy, shiny, cost effective fibre is derived from oil, just like the plastic spoons from your Chinese takeaway shop. Here's what's worse, though, usually polyester is blended with other fibres, like cotton or rayon, rendering it near impossible to "recycle". So here's my tip to you. If you must have poly, (perhaps you need that swishy jacket for water proofing reasons) then only buy recycled! There's a lot more of it available on the market now but use it sparingly. Polyester is not infinitely recyclable (AKA closed loop), the quality will decrease each time it's melted down for recycling and it will inevitably end up in landfill all the same.
2. Wrapped in plastic ain't fantastic.
Imagine you were preparing an amazing, organic meal for your eco-conscious friend. You went to the markets and bought all the freshest ingredients ensuring that every component right down to the spices were certified organic. Imagine you then put all this effort in to cooking that meal from scratch, with quality cooking equipment and teflon free pans, taking your time and allowing the flavours to develop. Now, imagine you poured the whole meal into a flimsy plastic bag and proceeded to serve it to your friend in a bag to eat from. WTF?! If you are going to the effort of shopping sustainably and/or ethically, then do not accept a plastic bag! If the retailer you shop from uses plastic bags, question it. Then say, no thanks!
3. Plastic holding it all together.
Did you know the industry standard for sewing threads is 100% polyester? I betcha that gorgeous organic cotton shirt you bought last season is even sewn up with the stuff. Similar to the analogy above, the effort of sourcing organic materials is great, but sewing threads made from polyester don't decompose. They also make recycling incredibly hard (imagine unpicking all those threads....). The only way to change this is to care, become informed and ask questions.
There's some micro-plastic-free food for thought to consider next time the shops call your name. Also, not buying more stuff is good, too. If you really need clothes, consider these other options. Thrift! (BYO bag). Shop responsibly with local labels that are actively working on these issues and buy products that align with your values. For example, our Zero Waste Tee is literally made from the fabric off-cuts of another garment style (so it's also organic and completely compostable).
As always, hit me up with your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org x