Stitching Sustainability: The Power of Sewing and Mindful Consumption

Our planet is in dire need of a change. We need more sustainable practices, like, yesterday. A report found that 100 companies alone are responsible for 71% of global emissions. (1) So although most waste isn’t produced by the everyday consumer, we hold power in our consumption. How we shop, when we shop, and where we shop all play a role in sustainability.

And despite this staggering reality around waste production, there’s hope on the horizon. A quiet revolution taking place, one stitch at a time. Sewing: what used to be a skill out of necessity is now coming back front and center.

Sewing, specifically hand-mending, is one of the ways you can combat waste. Learning to sew and actively repairing your clothes leads into how you shop, when you shop, and where you shop. 

How We Shop

Mindful shopping is the antidote to our throwaway culture. It's about pausing before we purchase and asking ourselves: "Do I really need this?" 

One of the key aspects of mindful shopping is prioritizing quality over quantity. With the knowledge that the world already has enough clothes to dress the next six generations, according to the British Fashion Council, sewing becomes a tool for appreciating the longevity and potential for reuse in clothing. (2) This statistic highlights the immense potential for sewing to complement mindful consumption and responsible shopping practices.

In today's fast-paced consumer culture, fast fashion has become the norm. These brands prioritize speed and low cost, often at the expense of durability and sustainability. As a result, clothes are designed to be worn a few times and then discarded, contributing to the cycle of waste and environmental degradation.

The growing movement towards buying brands and items meant to last is a rebellion against fast fashion. Investing in high-quality, timeless pieces not only reduces the need for constant replacements but also minimizes our environmental footprint. By choosing durable clothing made from sustainable materials, we can extend the life of our garments and reduce the demand for fast fashion.

When We Shop

The key to sustainable shopping lies in distinguishing between wants and needs. While the allure of a shiny new purchase can be hard to resist, it's important to remember that not everything needs to be replaced at the first sign of wear.

Sewing, once a tradition passed down through generations out of necessity, underwent a transformation with the rise of fast fashion. As buying new clothes became easier and less time-consuming, sewing shifted from a necessity to a leisurely pursuit. However, its inherent value in sustainability and self-sufficiency remained, waiting to be rediscovered.

In fact, the impact of extending the life of our clothes cannot be overstated. According to a WRAP study, simply extending the active use of garments by nine months can reduce their carbon, water, and waste footprints by a significant 20-30%. (3) This statistic underscores the power of small changes in our shopping habits to make a big difference in our environmental impact.

By embracing the practice of repairing over replacing, we not only reduce our environmental footprint but also save money in the process. Every time we choose to mend a garment instead of discarding it, we contribute to a more sustainable and mindful approach to consumption.  Even if we no longer want an item, repairing it ensures it lasts longer and can be consigned or passed along to someone else who will enjoy it.

Where We Shop

The fashion industry is responsible for 10 percent of total global carbon emissions. (4) This percentage might seem small, but to put this into perspective, that is the same amount of emissions from the European Union. The EU comprises 27 countries with 448.4 million inhabitants. (5) YIKES!

The best way to avoid supporting this is to shop used when you can. When you choose secondhand, you bypass the environmental toll of fast fashion, which churns out massive amounts of textile waste and contributes significantly to pollution.

Whether you buy your clothes from consignment shops or thrift stores, you are giving these items a second life. By combining secondhand shopping with sewing skills, individuals can personalize and repair thrifted garments, further extending their lifespan and reducing reliance on new clothing purchases. 

Consignment shops play a crucial role in extending the lifespan of clothing items. When you extend the life of a garment, you not only reduce waste but also contribute to a more sustainable fashion ecosystem. 

Additionally, supporting local businesses not only reduces your carbon footprint but also fosters community resilience and economic sustainability. By patronizing small, independent shops and artisans, you contribute to the vibrancy and diversity of your local economy while making environmentally conscious choices.

Sewing: The Way Forward

In a world overrun with disposable everything, hand mending is a breath of fresh air—a reminder that old is indeed gold. So, whether you're a seasoned pro or a total newbie, it's time to dust off that sewing kit and join us in embracing the art of hand mending. Remember, once you overcome the barrier to sewing and mending — which is super easy and low stakes — there’s no reason not to repair your clothes. If we wait for the day that corporations are held to sustainable practices, we might run out of time. 

And hey, if you're looking for a little guidance along the way, why not join our upcoming class with The Troy Sew Shop on June 20th, 2024? Together, let's stitch a more sustainable future, one seam at a time.


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