Building Moral, Sustainable Clothing Alternatives : Lifestyle Kit : NPR


What is as American as apple pie? Blue denims. And the way they match, how you use them, what you pair them with – they’re all uniquely you. But the journey in the daily life of these jeans in advance of and following they’re on your physique is a excursion repeated billions of periods every 12 months. This is NPR’s Lifetime Package, and I am Elise Hu. The lifespan of a pair of denims repeats billions of times for the reason that some 5 to 6 billion pairs are manufactured in the globe each year.

ELIZABETH CLINE: And actually, I feel that that estimate is in all probability a very little little bit lower.

HU: Writer Elizabeth Cline, who writes publications about the manner industry and its labor tactics, weaves us by way of.

CLINE: They commence out as cotton on a cotton farm. They at some point get spun into fibers, sewn into outfits. And then they close up in a retailer.

HU: Then we get the jeans on the net from, say, the Hole or Madewell, a place that sells jeans. That pair of jeans will come dwelling to our closets. But…

CLINE: They conclusion up ultimately shifting on to waste.

HU: Wait. What if I fall these jeans off in a donation bin at a resale shop like Goodwill initial?

CLINE: So of the clothing that we donate to charity, it can be estimated that about 15 to 20{d6d67865d0c481d6826435c1218909f2de4bf59758ea77e63d9ed3e5a8158a00} are sold in the thrift shop exactly where we donate them. And then the rest is packed up, baled up and enters the world-wide secondhand financial state.

HU: The denims could then go anywhere in the world. But recycling remedies for outfits just aren’t extremely state-of-the-art proper now.

CLINE: So only 1{d6d67865d0c481d6826435c1218909f2de4bf59758ea77e63d9ed3e5a8158a00} of all apparel is at any time recycled back into new outfits.

HU: One p.c at most.

CLINE: That implies that eventually any item of outfits that you get rid of is heading to close up in the landfill since the technological remedies just genuinely usually are not at scale still to do a thing distinctive with it.

HU: The charges are substantial to the setting and the individuals making clothing. That one pair of jeans took an estimated 1,800 gallons of water to create. And you likely know this. But to make so quite a few jeans so speedily and affordably, manufacturing unit staff are often underpaid and unsafe. We are not listed here to say, hey, end purchasing. But there are approaches to shop smarter and to curate a additional eco and ethically aware closet. In today’s episode, how to do it.


HU: Dresses are so cheap for us buyers these days, but they occur with people staggering environmental and human prices that you should not get priced in.


Unidentified Individual #1: The plan that we only delight in one thing for a very short of time is inherently unsustainable.

Unknown Individual #2: Style is the 2nd biggest polluter of thoroughly clean water on the world.

JOHN OLIVER: This is going to preserve going on as prolonged as we permit it. So we require to present apparel manufacturers, not just that we care, but why they ought to.

HU: That was the BBC, a Teenager Vogue video and John Oliver on HBO. Like the threat of climate modify, rapidly fashion and the world-wide garments glut is a thorny, multifaceted, systemic difficulty. Elizabeth Cline.

CLINE: The exact thing which is occurring to that fast manner worker is the very same issue which is occurring to an Amazon worker, to a speedy foodstuff employee, to a freelance journalist. That approach of extraction that’s occurring in vogue is rather related to what is actually occurring throughout our financial system in typical.

HU: That is a great deal. It truly is significant. And it can make us really feel powerless and paralyzed as people today to do some thing about it. But it won’t have to. Right here are some things we can do. Our initial takeaway – will not think of your garments as disposable. Be expecting to preserve them for the prolonged haul.

SYMPHONY CLARKE: People today are so quick to – oh, this would not match anymore – trash. Oh, this doesn’t appear good anymore – trash.

HU: Which is Symphony Clarke, recognised as The Thrift Guru on social media platforms. She says for the reason that clothing has gotten so inexpensive, it really is easy to assume of outfits as single use.

CLARKE: We stay in this technology now where by people today will not even get caught lifeless seeing people have on the very same outfit twice. Which is the lifespan of their outfits. As soon as a photo is taken, it’s completed.

HU: To abandon that angle of excess, adjust your state of mind. But with the idea that what you obtain need to stay with you. Clarke recommends a easy examination.

CLARKE: Do, like, a 30-have on examination. Like, when you go buying, when you appear at an product, will you don this item at least 30 periods? And that on your own will get persons wondering, like, what? Why would I want to dress in some thing 30 situations? But that is definitely the essential. You want to actually increase the lifespan of outfits.

HU: To lengthen the lifespan of those threads, treat your apparel with a minimal more TLC. Here’s Elizabeth Cline.

CLINE: As clothing have gotten less expensive, persons stopped using care of them. Possibly if they get mustard or espresso on their shirt, they’ll just say, oh, this was, like, $5, so I am not even heading to hassle. But getting treatment of clothes can feed the soul. It can be just a quite superior life ability to have.

HU: In point, we have a Everyday living Package episode all about having stains out, such as out of your apparel. Takeaway two – learn how to revamp clothing and add-ons. Clarke, The Thrift Expert, established her very own personal design and style by revamping, or what is actually also recognised as thrift flips.


Unknown Man or woman #3: Spruce up your wardrobe without actually buying any new garments.

Unknown Person #4: So enable me display you how to make your scrunchies at property and no stitching skills essential.

Unidentified Person #5: The pants have been truly saggy at the bottom, and I did not like how that seemed. So I just lower that off.

HU: It can be very preferred on the socials. What is it?

CLARKE: Revamping is just taking anything which is outdated and revamping it into a thing completely diverse and completely new.

HU: Symphony Clarke realized the power of this reduced-priced, eco-acutely aware way to give clothing a second life while she was a college student. Now she makes a dwelling showing the rest of us how to do it.

CLARKE: Go in your closet and say, hey, how can I change up this outdated crewneck or this aged hoodie that I have? Perhaps I can slice it and crop it, and now it’s a total different item.

HU: Understand this by going to school on social media. Look for YouTube or TikTok for thrift revamps or thrift flips. A different good hashtag is #DIYNoSew so that no sewing or stitching is demanded.

CLARKE: A whole lot of the stuff you can just do with just hot glue or, like, some material glue, super glue, security pins, all that stuff.

HU: Super-great. But when you do want to say goodbye to more mature garments, that receives us to takeaway a few. Get rid of and rotate your outfits responsibly. When we all received in on the Marie Kondo fad, the thought was to throw out that which no extended introduced us joy, but be intentional about how you donate.

CLINE: If you donate that item, it has a a great deal, significantly, significantly larger opportunity of locating a 2nd everyday living, obtaining one more individual who’s, like, psyched to put on it.

HU: For example, could you do a garments swap with pals? If not, you could resell your larger-priced things. Resale applications like ThredUp, Poshmark and The RealReal make it effortless to make a buck on what you no for a longer time wear.

CLARKE: You would be astonished what people today acquire on the World wide web.

HU: Symphony Clarke.

CLARKE: So I would just say checklist anything. Make absolutely sure that it looks presentable for the most element when you might be advertising on line. Most apps are modeling apps. Like, they’re modeling-pleasant. So when you model the clothes, I really feel like they’re, like, a lot more most likely to market than just positioning it on the floor and having a photograph of it. So that’s, like, my minimal tip. That’s what functions for me.

HU: A terrific tip if you want to sell. But for potential buyers, we have takeaway 4. Transform the way you invest in your outfits by purchasing secondhand. Symphony Clarke spends time in the racks of thrift suppliers like The Salvation Army and Goodwill. And she not only finds fantastic deals, but invents new appears. If that would seem much too frustrating and given that the pandemic means numerous of us never phase foot into retailers, thrifting on the internet is far more and far more popular.

CLARKE: So you really don’t have to have the problem of going into the thrift retail outlet and experience overwhelmed and looking through all these apparel and acquiring dust in your eyes and battling traces of people today. You can do away with all of that by in fact likely on the net if you want to take the first move and just dabbling and viewing what thrifting or purchasing secondhand is all about.

HU: Similar location individuals sell is exactly where you can purchase.

CLARKE: Go on to an application that enables you to search for specific things.

HU: She likes Depop and Poshmark apps for that.

CLARKE: Let us say that you are like, male, I’m seriously into, like, the full Adidas zip-up tracksuit section. At times when you go to the thrift retail store, you may possibly find not that. You know, you wander into a thrift store. You’re like, yeah, I will not even know exactly where this area is or if they will have that. You can go on to Depop and just style in Adidas tracksuit. Growth – every thing will pop up.

HU: So these had been many useful strategies you can whittle down your closet and participate in a part in conquering the expensive world apparel glut. But you can go over and above purchasing, upcycling and donating smarter. Your fifth takeaway to eco-acutely aware closets is to get educated. Find out a lot more about a follow known as greenwashing and the campaigns out there for a fairer, a lot more sustainable vogue sector. Ok, you have likely heard some things about greenwashing, or you’ve noticed merchants promotion their eco-aware clothing. What does that signify? It can be murky. Organizations want to sign excellent virtues. This is writer Elizabeth Cline.

CLINE: Greenwashing is when corporations either intentionally mislead people or just oversell and embellish the endeavours they’re making to be more sustainable.

HU: To learn additional, she suggests a web site named Excellent On You and a nonprofit termed Remake.

CLINE: They place out some thing called the transparency report. And that is the place, if you seriously want to do your due diligence and say, Ok, which makes are actually likely the following degree, all those internet websites are going to give you that details. And what’s so astounding to me is there are a large amount of shoppers out there who seriously, actually want to do that research.

HU: At the time you might be educated, you can assume about getting additional associated.

CLINE: I see a ton of people today paying a large amount of time stressing or feeling responsible about in which they shop. We can not fail to remember that the challenges in the vogue business are systemic and that we have to have systemic remedies to these difficulties as perfectly.

HU: Cline assisted launch an group herself referred to as PayUp Manner that pushes towards exploitative tactics in the trend marketplace.

CLINE: One of the points that we are hunting at this year is regulatory and legal reform in the fashion sector. And just to give you just one concrete case in point, we are supporting California’s Garment Employee Protection Act. And it will, for the to start with time in decades – in many years – keep trend models lawfully and monetarily accountable for what happens in their garment factories.

HU: Yeah. I imagine we fail to remember that we even now can choose a lot of civic motion, you know, over and above retweeting.

CLINE: We have so significantly electrical power, collective energy, as consumers. But you genuinely have to get jointly with other people and choose what your agenda is, what is your approach, what is it that we want from these businesses and make demands on them to modify.

HU: Remember those denims that went on the journey identical to the other 5 billion denims each individual 12 months? With a minor more consciousness about our closets, Cline suggests the life cycle of those people jeans would very last for a longer period, and much more importantly, there would be fewer in circulation.

CLINE: There is no explanation for there to be 5 billion pairs of jeans produced every single 12 months. So in a a lot more responsible fashion long term, it could be that, you know, businesses are producing a lot less. They’re using technological know-how to make confident that what ever they are building matches up with shopper need.

HU: Fellow shoppers, we can have an influence on what the long run appears to be like.

Alright, there have been a lot of hyperlinks and tips below, and we’ll put them all online at But if you’re listening when on a jog or in your auto or perhaps though on-line thrift buying, let’s review. Takeaway just one – improve your mindset about apparel. Invest in them expecting individuals garments to be with you for the lengthy haul, and get superior care of them after they are yours.

CLARKE: You want to basically prolong the lifespan of clothing.

CLINE: Having care of apparel can feed the soul.

HU: Two – learn how to revamp what you have got.

CLARKE: Go in your closet and say, hey how can I switch up this outdated crewneck or this old hoodie that I have?

HU: 3 – when you want to say goodbye, get rid of your clothes responsibly. Give or resell to men and women who in fact want what you have worn.

CLINE: All of these resale applications like ThredUp and Poshmark and internet sites like The RealReal have created it so substantially easier to rotate your closet responsibly.

HU: Takeaway 4 – obtain secondhand. So quite a few applications and web sites make that doable, and bodily thrift merchants nevertheless abound in each and every city.

CLARKE: When you thrift, you build the craze. You are the trendsetter. You type of, like, generate your very own trend perception. So men and women are like, wow, where’d you get that from? Can I copy it? No, you are not able to simply because this is thrifted. And it truly is revamped, and it arrived from my brain and my coronary heart.

HU: And eventually, get educated. Find out about greenwashing to make much better choices. You can get section in strategies for additional moral and sustainable style sector tactics. We know the scourge of fast manner is a knotty issue that can implicate the complete globe. Cline.

CLINE: This is the top intersectional challenge. It is the mixture of race and gender and class and, like, exploitation that cuts so several various ways.

HU: But the prospective for adjust is possible. And it could direct to a style potential that is much better for personnel, improved for the earth, and, based on how excellent you are at today’s takeaways, improved for your wardrobe.

For more NPR Lifetime Kit, examine out our other episodes. We have one particular on the measures to deep clean up your house and a further 1 on how to prevent procrastinating. You can obtain individuals at And if you love Everyday living Kit and want much more, subscribe to our e-newsletter at And now a completely random suggestion from…

JORDAN: Hi. My title is Jordan (ph). Do you have a good deal of factors to do? Emotion confused? Properly, if you can find just about anything that only normally takes two minutes, do it suitable now ’cause it will get for a longer period for you to consider to try to remember to do it later than it will to do it suitable now. So that’s the two-moment rule – very valuable when you obtained stuff to do. Thank you, Existence Kit group. You fellas rule.

HU: If you’ve got a superior suggestion, depart us a voicemail at 202-216-9823, or email us a voice memo at This episode was created by Fiona Geiran. Meghan Keane is the managing producer, and Beth Donovan is our senior editor. I’m Elise Hu. Thanks for listening.


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