Community, Opinion & Editorial

Three sustainable steps to upgrade your wardrobe

Have you ever heard of the term “fast fashion?”

No, it doesn’t mean your T-shirt can win an Olympic sprint or your socks can claim victory in the next Indianapolis 500.

Instead, as Merriam-Webster states, fast fashion is “an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers.”

It doesn’t take a genius to determine that “quickly” and “cheaply” are not ideal for sustainability. For every T-shirt or pair of jeans, precious natural resources (such as cotton and water) are consumed, and supply chain ethics (including labor conditions) are often tossed aside. 

Astoundingly, the clothing and textile industry is responsible for approximately 10 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, 215 trillion liters of water use, and ultra-low wages for workers.

Like any human-caused problem, the good news is that we can come up with human-caused solutions. 

Here’s my advice: Pick something—even just one thing—you can do starting today regarding your fashion and textile habits. A few of my favorites, off the top of my head, are below.


Look to buy or borrow used items first (ideally locally sourced) and then—and only then—buy something new.

If you must buy new, spend more on products built to last instead of cheaply manufactured fads. Higher-quality items will be more easily passed down for resale and reuse. Admittedly, this isn’t easy to do if you are on a fixed budget, but if you can afford to pay the upfront cost, it will be much more cost-effective in the long run.


Open your mind to possibilities you previously didn’t consider feasible. For me, that was used shoes. I thought the notion of wearing previously worn shoes was not ideal. But then, I did it, and I haven’t looked back. Whereas underwear…yeah, that might be my border. 


Learn to repair your stuff or pay for repairs. I know this is pretty sad, but I own several pairs of pants and shorts that didn’t have buttons for a long time. As in months.

Bonus: Sourcing your closet with only used stuff is a fun challenge. It’s also (typically) less expensive than buying new. Win-win. 

Coming Soon: Food Waste Prevention Week

Join Waste Wise Lane County during Food Waste Prevention Week, April 1-7, 2024. Please help us raise public awareness and inspire our community to reduce food waste in our homes, workplaces, and schools. Learn more at

Waste Wise Tip: Jean therapy

This month’s tip comes from regarding how often to wash your jeans. You may be surprised by their advice: “Washing denim too frequently can cause them to lose their shape and fit. Wash them once every 10 wears at most to keep them fitting correctly and minimize sagging. Use a damp cloth or old toothbrush with mild soap to remove small stains between washes instead of a full cycle.”

Fashion Waste Trivia

Take a few minutes to test your knowledge of sustainable fashion and take our challenging trivia quiz. Simply scan the QR code with your smartphone, “spin the wheel” to choose a nickname, and play the game.

Waste Wise Lane County, a part of the Lane County Waste Management Division, seeks to empower residents, businesses, and schools with resources to reduce waste and live sustainably. Sign up for the Waste Wise newsletter at



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