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  • Writer's pictureAngela Giacobbo

Stop before you Shop

By Angela Giacobbo

Photo of two crocheted market bags. An empty pink bag sits on the left, and a red bag filled with an apple, avocado, and banana sits on the right.
Photo courtesy of Angela Giacobbo

When people think of sustainable clothes shopping, there are usually two ideas: thrifting and expensive, sustainably sourced materials. One issue with these options is that we need to buy more to replace what we have instead of using what we already own.

Do you really need to buy that soap saver pouch, or can you use an old torn stocking instead? Do you need to buy a reusable market bag online, or can you get crafty and make your own with leftover yarn?

The key to sustainable living is stopping to think, and here are some tips of things to do before and during shopping adventures to ensure what you buy is what you need.

Tearing Doesn’t Equal Trash

A close-up of a pair of black jeans with a tear.
Photo courtesy of Angela Giacobbo

Destroyed Jeans

When your jeans are impossible to wear, they might be a saviour for your next pair. Denim patches are strong and durable. The next time your favourite pair of jeans rip in your inner thigh, use an old pair as a patch to fix and strengthen the damaged spot.

Maybe sewing isn’t your strong suit, and you don’t have a go-to for repairs—no worries! Arturo Denim Co. has a Denim Restoration Service that can mend your beloved pair of jeans back into your life.

Seamingly Split

No matter how well you take care of your clothes, they will need some tending to bring them back to life if you wear them enough. Sometimes the tear is right along the seam, which has a simple and easily hidden solution: the ladder stitch. Pull out some needle and thread and follow this simple tutorial on how to sew an invisible stitch, and your torn garment will be ready to slip on again.

Repurposing with purpose

Repairing your clothes isn’t always an option. Maybe you wore that shirt until it was nothing more than threads, or maybe that oil stain is too stubborn. Our first thought might be to throw it away. Instead, let’s try to get creative!

Running nylons

As someone allergic to liquid soap, my house has bars sitting on every sink counter. The problem with bar soap is that you can’t unscrew a cap to get the rest out, and you’re stuck with broken bits that refuse to lather. A solid solution is a soap saver pouch. This solution is great and sustainable, but you don’t always need to spend more money to be environmentally conscious.

Cheap nylons never seem to last long, and if you’re like me, you can’t bear to throw them out even when the rips run up every inch. Instead of tossing them in the trash, repurpose them as homemade soap saver pouches.

Rags on rags!

You may be familiar with this classic, but when your bedsheets are too far gone, or that t-shirt is no longer wearable, consider using them as rags. Sometimes using a towel to clean up a mess isn’t the best idea if we want to use it again, but rags are an easy solution instead of turning to paper towels. You can keep reusing rags as necessary, but make sure you label them to know where they belong (garage rags, laundry rags, kitchen rags, etc.).

Tips for shopping

Sometimes you really need new clothes—I mean, wardrobes aren’t indestructible. This is where people may think it’s time to spend hefty amounts of money on a sustainably sourced sweater, but that isn’t possible for everyone. Sometimes we don’t have the means to buy one article of clothing well over $100, and that’s okay. But there are ways to make sure the clothing you buy does last no matter where you purchase it. Here are some general tips to assist you with shopping:

  • Inspect clothing in the store for loose thread, thin/see-through material, or tearing. If it isn’t holding up in the store, it won’t hold up when you wear it.

  • Ask yourself some questions before adding it to your cart:

  • Where will I wear this?

  • Can I come up with three outfits this article can fit into?

  • Will I wear this more than once?

  • Read the tag for washing instructions.

  • When in doubt, hang it to dry! The dryer can demolish even the sturdiest of clothes. Avoid pilling, tears from zippers, or peeling print mishaps by washing these clothes inside out and hanging them to dry.

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