SALEM — The holidays are in full swing, which means many Oregonians are spending their days celebrating with friends and family, baking delicious treats, and shopping for those perfect gifts to give loved ones.
In the spirit of the holiday shopping season, Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality is encouraging Oregonians to choose quality over quantity when buying clothing gifts. The “Make Every Thread Count” campaign asks people to think differently before buying clothes, make smarter choices at the register and find ways to extend the life of their clothing before making new purchases.
“The best way to reduce our impact on the planet is to reduce what we buy, and to reuse what we already have,” says Julie Miller, communications specialist in the DEQ’s Materials Management Program. “Buying used clothing, swapping clothing or simply mending and altering old clothes is better than buying new items. However, if you do buy new clothes, look for quality items that will last for years and are classic enough to stay in fashion.”
Clothing manufacturing, by the numbers
Today, the average consumer buys 60 percent more clothing items and keeps them for about half as long as 15 years ago, spurring increased production of more, often lower quality, garments. Clothing manufacturing is resource intensive, requiring materials, water and energy. Some studies found that it can take up to 1,500 gallons of water to manufacture just one t-shirt and a pair of jeans—the equivalent to the amount of water a person will drink in 13 years.
In addition to the environmental impacts, a recent study found that 42 percent of Oregonians regretted buying an item of clothing in the past year. Most of the reasons driving regret are completely preventable, such as impulse buys, purchasing unnecessary sale items and buying poor quality. The same survey also found that 33% of respondents got rid of clothing because they no longer liked it, indicating that more thoughtful purchases could prevent waste.
The Make Every Thread Count campaign provides information and resources to help people identify quality and care for their clothes. Tips include learning how to identify well-made clothes, making the right laundering choices and advice on simple repairs. As a result, consumers and holiday shoppers can dress well, while saving money and reducing negative impacts on the environment. Extending clothing life by just three months can reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by up to 10 percent.
How’s that for a holiday gift? Protecting the environment and finding the perfect sweater?