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Circular Economy

Making Fashion Circular or How to Make Your Wardrobe Circular

Photo credit: Olga Hutsul Photography

Kelly Drennan

Founding Executive Director, Fashion Takes Action


As citizens who buy clothes, we play an important role in making fashion circular. The 7Rs of circular fashion make it easy!

Just as in the traditional 3R waste hierarchy, reduce is the most important R in fashion as well. We buy 60 per cent more clothes today than we did 20 years ago, and we keep them for half as long. This overconsumption, particularly of fast fashion, is causing 92 million tonnes of our clothing to end up in global landfills each year.

The 7Rs of circular fashion

Next is reuse, or keeping our clothes in use for as long as possible. Giving a new life to clothes can be done by buying thrift or second-hand, attending a clothing swap, or handing down your clothes to a family member or someone in your community.

Photo credit: Olga Hutsul Photography

Repurpose follows, and refers to taking a garment and turning it into something new. For example, a stained t-shirt can be turned into a tote bag or cleaning rags to use around the house.

When was the last time you sewed on a button or fixed the hole in the toe of your sock? If we learn how to repair our garments, then it keeps them in use for longer. Also, taking better care of our garments means that they’ll be less likely to need repairs. That means getting to stains right away and only washing our clothes when they’re really dirty.

More options in the modern world

Rental is great for when you have those special one-off occasions like a graduation or a wedding. You know you’re likely to never wear that fancy outfit again, so why not rent it instead of spending the money on something that will just collect dust in your closet?

Photo credit: Olga Hutsul Photography

Resale is more popular than ever with so many online options and apps. If you invested in certain pieces and you aren’t comfortable donating them, then resale is a great way to recoup some of those costs. Also, participating as a seller on these platforms means there’s a good chance you’ll also make a purchase of a used garment, so it’s a win-win!

Finally, the last resort is recycling. This isn’t something we do personally, however, but rather there’s a system of collectors, sorters, graders, and recyclers who turn our unsellable clothes into wipers, rags, shoddy, and insulation. When we donate our clothes to charity and thrift retailers, they pass on what they can’t sell (or in some cases what was never good enough to sell in the first place) to those who will make sure it’s properly recycled.

And that’s how we as citizens who buy clothes can be a part of the circular fashion economy!


Learn more at fashiontakesaction.com.

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