This article about making more sustainable clothing choices points out that by wearing a garment twice as many times as the average before discarding it, the environmental impact is lessened by 49%.

It goes on to say that it's hard to get numbers on what average is, but one survey estimates clothes get worn seven times. Looking at all the factors, I understand it. But thinking about how little 14 wears is, 7 hammers home the frantic pace of it all.

In this article about vintage sellers having a hard time sourcing because fast fashion has caused a glut of poor quality stuff at thrift stores, the statistic they use is that Australians buy about 26 kilos of clothes a year and discard 23 of them, and that most fast fashion clothes are designed to really only last a short cycle of seven wears:

@erinbee that number always stuns me since unless it's for formal occasions or something I actively hate (more often from thrift stores anyway), I wear things a lot. Like -- I have some fast fashion tees I bought years ago and have worn dozens of times in the years since... and thinking about it this way, I feel like I haven't had as bad an impact as I might.

@platypus Me too. And part of the bigger picture isn't on individual choices, it's on lack of infrastructure to domestically recycle textiles in the global north instead of just dumping them mostly in Ghana.

@platypus @erinbee I cannot comprehend wearing something only 7 times unless it just doesn't fit and I give it away.

A local sustainable clothing brand I like says "Science suggests people replace understuff every six months. That sounds about right, but we’re not the boss of you."

I'm still wearing underpants and undershirts from high school, even 8th grade, and I'm 38 years old. Some of them are finally wearing out, developing holes and rips, and graduating to rags.

@skyfaller @erinbee while I love the idea of closed loop underthings, i also... use them enough years that I'd have to see how long these folks stay in business (though I suppose buying and seeing if they're good quality next time I need them, especially as a Pennsylvanian...)

@platypus @skyfaller I used to sell underwear, and you really only need to replace them every six months if you're prone to fungal infections and don't regularly clean them with bleach or hot water and an oxygenated cleaner. (And thongs. They need to be hardcore cleaned or disposed of more quickly than other styles.)

@erinbee @platypus @skyfaller 7 times is such a low number. I wear my favourite t shirts probably once a week each, and some of them are getting on for 5 or 6 years old now. As a fairly small, heavy person I also hate shopping for new clothes so I guess I'm not their core demographic!

@platypus I felt comfortable buying from them because, while one company recycling clothes is a gimmick, here in Philly they are part of a larger circular ecosystem that is developing:

It seems that even if The Big Favorite went under, it's likely that other local entities would carry on recycling in meaningful ways.

@platypus @skyfaller @erinbee jumping in to thanks for the discussion and link!

One place I can see this being really helpful is for those of us recovering from surgery/hormones/body change events where our sizes are changing rapidly. I'm in this situation - I want to avoid contributing to fast fashion but have bought some "throw away" undies in a size I don't expect to need once my body adapts. It's nice seeing there are other options, especially when I can't anticipate what my body will need.

@platypus @erinbee Yeah me too. A lot of things I wear since years and years and years.

But perhaps it across ALL clothing? For example socks wear down fast. Some things like gifts are never worn etc... (?)

@erinbee Wow, that's incredible. Makes me determined to continue with my current ban on buying new clothes. Was meant to be for this year only. Maybe i should move to a "buy only to replace" approach. I was definitely buying for that endorphin hit, the pleasure of novelty.

During the pandemic more give-away boxes than usual were placed on sidewalks in the town I currently live in. All garments on this picture are picked up from such boxes. They are not worn out. Just yesterday I found shorts with price-tag. Most of the clothes don’t fit me but I’ll keep them for friends, sewing projects, etc. Sadly, seven wears as average seems correct to me.

@erinbee I own things (lots of things) that are over 30 years old, that I wear at least monthly....

@Tattooed_mummy That's how it should be when you love something or know it fits your lifestyle!

@erinbee Seven times?! Maybe fancy outfits for special occasions like graduations or weddings or funerals, but other clothes??! This is so far beyond what I can comprehend.

@stelepami Right? All the infrequent use items would obviously bring the average down, but by that much? Impossible.

@erinbee that’s… absolutely mind boggling… I mean, just trying to put it into perspective, this means the environmental impact of my current wardrobe is like near zero? I’ve bought maybe 5 new articles of clothing in the past 3 years? I can’t imagine wearing a shirt only 7 times. And that’s just the average…

@shahaan There's so many factors in the environmental impact of clothes, but yeah, the longer you can keep it from the landfill, the better. And you're better off throwing something in the garbage if you think the thrift store can't sell it, because they just bale it up as rags and it ends up shipped to somewhere like Ghana where they can't use it either.

@erinbee @shahaan Oh, that last part is interesting. I tend to wear stuff to disintegration unless it's basically formalwear, but I'd got the message from somewhere [whatever it was, probably a less good source than you're basing this on, tbh] that I should still give those to Goodwill because they'll recycle the fabric.

@eldang @shahaan Most fabric recycling is overseas, and if they have too much it just ends up in the dump. There needs to be more domestic fabric recycling, but for that to be realistic we need more things to do with recycled fabric and more domestic manufacturing.

@erinbee @eldang @shahaan at one point in history paper was made from fabric rather than wood, I say we go back to that

@balrogboogie @eldang @shahaan A lot of money is plastic now, time for polyester to shine!

@erinbee i'm weirded out every time i think about this. do other people not wear clothing until it literally falls apart is what i ask myself. and i say this as someone with like 4 giant rubbermaid tubs full of thrifted festival-costume type clothing, so i *know* that's not how it works for a huge percentage of garments manufactured, or really a good model of how people approach clothes in the age of cheap clothes, but...

@brennen Honestly, your festival clothes are environmentally better off in your Rubbermaids than anywhere else even if they never get worn again. It's the careless disposal that does it.

@erinbee yep, i feel ok about 'em on that level - they're landfill bound otherwise - but the whole economy / stream that they come out of is just astonishing in its scope.

@erinbee I. Wow. SEVEN???

I have a long-sleeved t-shirt that I bought in the late 90s at Walmart that I still wear several times a year. I'd have more clothing I still wear if I hadn't gained so much weight since then. I buy two pairs of jeans from Kohls every six months or so and wear them daily until they are too faded/worn and need to be replaced.

I guess I'm not in the fast fashion demographic.

@annacreech @erinbee every time i go looking for clothes in H&M & Co, i see nothing i would want to wear, and go: maybe next year

but that's an attitude from 20 years ago
now i guess i could say: maybe next week

@checkervest @erinbee I think I wear most of my clothes 7x a month! How is this even real??

@paeneultima @checkervest It's a combination of people not wanting to be seen in the same thing more than once, buying clothes for YouTube/TikTok haul videos that they only put on for the video (and returning them, and some chains just dispose of it instead of putting it back on the rack), following breakneck style cycles and forgetting about old items, and things being designed to have limited lasting power. Just layers of problems.

@erinbee @checkervest 100% I was thinking just the other day about being on the tail end of "things are forever" and I still engage with everything that way.

@erinbee @checkervest like in a "before the planned obsolescence era" kind of way

@paeneultima @checkervest "Things are forever." Yes! I was reading recently about how under ideal circumstances, buried linen and cotton biodegrade fairly quickly. But we don't create those circumstances, and it leaves a lot of long lasting problems.

@paeneultima @checkervest @erinbee I'm pretty sure I've worn the sweater I currently have on, which I thrifted btw, like 50 times, at least

@derek @paeneultima @checkervest A sturdy sweater is great for that. What's the cost per wear down to now? Less than a quarter?

@erinbee @paeneultima @checkervest given the ESRP of this thing, I'd say about a buck, and yeah, south of a quarter for what I paid for it

@redoak T-shirts Travolta who wears eight t-shirts a day and throws them out instead of washing them is an outlier and should not have been counted:

@erinbee similarly i recall reading *years* ago that Justin Timberlake throws underwear away instead of washing it and wearing it a second time and thinking, this is a person who does not live in the same world as most of us

@erinbee 7 times, WTF?I wear mine until they fall apart. Good clothes are good clothes.

@gunchleoc Part of the problem is that lots of clothes aren't manufactured well, too.

@erinbee Of course, if you change them often and don't have much money, you have to buy them cheap. Also, when you're poor you have to buy cheap because you don't have the money upfront for good clothes.

I have boots that cost me >100€ but I have been wearing them for 10 years. I have worn down the soles that will need replacement eventually, but they are still perfectly fine otherwise. If you don't have 100€, you'll have to buy cheap crap every year because they break, which is more expensive.

@gunchleoc The Boots Theory!

That, and a lot of people don't know how to recognize when something is made well: how the fabric will wash, how the seams will hold up, etc. Not every cheap t-shirt is made equally, either.

@erinbee Growing up working class, I learned to wear my clothes until they fell off. I Still mostly do that.

Also, I avoid polyester. If we’re going to cut our oil consumption, it seems like we’ve got to consider fabrics as well as other petroleum products.

@erinbee … I haven't been fashionable since the '90s, but I buy <=6 new clothes items a year, rarely throw out/sell until it's completely demolished or can't fit. Most things get worn a couple times every month, for decades.

One of my favorite 20+ year old Tommy Bahama shirts is now slightly ripped at a seam, probably dies in next wash; or I could patch it up and it's just not "classy" anymore.

I don't understand what these people are doing.

@erinbee My brain can't comprehend this. I have a fairly small wardrobe for a typical North American (at least compared to a lot of people whose closets I've seen), and I wear my clothes on monotonous repeat. Plus a lot of my stuff comes second hand already. I either wear my clothes until they fall apart (which takes way longer than 7-14 wears) or I donate them if they no longer fit or I don't like them anymore. I cannot imagine only wearing non-formal wear that few times.


7 times? Seriously? And here I am wearing underwear that's over one year old, is that just not done?

@xinjinmeng I should look up an exact number, but given how infrequently people wash bras I'm guessing they're more concerned about what's on the outside and their underwear isn't being replaced that often.

@erinbee SEVEN?!?!

Most of my favourite items get worn weekly, until they give out.

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