How to save the Planet One Dress at a Time

Save the Planet

Reading Time: 5 minutes

by Joni

We need to save the planet, and ourselves, one dress at a time. The world’s landfills are full of old unwanted clothes that even the op shops don’t want. Sustainability and re-usability is urgently needed in our throwaway society. It is estimated that about 30% of the world’s plastic waste is from synthetic clothing and 8% of landfill from unwanted fashion. Clearly, we need to do better.

Wear Neutral Colours

I’ve heard all this many times over the years, especially from my mother. “Wear neutral, buy neutral, think neutral.” My local paper, on the same frequency as my mother, featured an article on minimalist wardrobe choices, promoting beige, tan, white and cream as your basics. Blah! The idea is to add coloured accessories to express one’s individuality. No! Who wants to look like cold porridge with a splash of colour?

Express yourself with Colour

Is this a secret conspiracy to make us all look the same? Make us uniformed robots? I’m not buying it, nor am I buying neutral anything, except maybe carbon variety. Instead, I will continue embracing my right to express myself, wardrobe wise, décor wise, and merchandise wise, as a colour enthusiast. I love colour, spelt with a ‘u’, and its vibrant joyful tones. My car is bright citrus yellow, it’s so easy to find in the car park. My daughter, a colour enthusiast like her mum, always has coloured hair (I’m a tad too old for this one) and I can find her easily at the shops too. Queen Elizabeth always wore bright colours so she could stand out in a crowd.

The minimalist beige-toned wardrobe specialist/journalist then went on to encourage the reader to toss out all the clothes in your cupboard and start again with a fresh palette of beige, white cream and tan. That is not a palette. A palette has all the wonderful colours of the rainbow colours.

Save the Planet One Dress at a Time

The good news is that the younger generation are becoming aware, and Patagonia brand has pioneered sustainable fashion since 1993, using recycled plastics. A few years ago, I was at the Hanoi Women’s Museum, an amazing place to get lost in for a day and met with some local fashion-sustainability pioneers.

They were handing out flyers, encouraging women to be selective about what they buy, If you Google the garment brand make sure it is not associated with Asian sweat shop labour. That is hard when in the throes of wowing over an outfit, but I guess we have to get into the habit of Googling everything and considering how our buying choices affect others and the planet. Here is a list of brands associated with sweat shop labour exploiting young women.

It is not just young women affected by fashion industry but the planet, as dyes and chemicals from fabric treatment plants flow into water systems. Even more confounding is the effect on the planet of growing the source of the fabric. We think of cotton as natural, but it is apparently very pesticide intensive. Organic cotton is far better, as is hemp, recycled cotton and organic linen.

I have always had a long-term habit of refashioning what I already have. Now it is the ‘hip’ thing to do.

Refashion that dress

Why not refashion what you already have? That is a seriously fun project. You can make your ‘stuff’ into more interesting or more ‘useful-to-you’ stuff. Hems can easily go up or down and the bits you cut off one hem can lengthen another hem, creating an interesting two-tone skirt effect. Old trousers and jeans make great handbags or even easier, shorts. The leg parts can then be used as sleeves for a dress that has none. I own many seriously interesting outfits and do get comments, mostly positive, and a few negative, I must add.

If a collar on a shirt annoys you. Rip it off! Same with sleeves! When dresses get worn, wear them as nighties. The fabric is so comfy and soft by then. You get the drift. I don’t have patterns, but I do have fun doing all this especially on rainy weekends. You can lay other clothes on the floor and use them as a pattern. You can dye things, add braid, buttons, lace, pockets, and badges are cool too. Here is a link with ideas to get you going in your refashioning project. Pre-loved becomes ‘loved again’.

Colour is Good for Us

You may think this is a little on the crazy side, but I am enjoying my craziness. You will always spot me in a crowd with my interesting, colourful clothes and wild frizzy hair, which also refuses to conform. You can come have a chat. We might just get along swell particularly if you enjoy colour too.

You can read my latest book, Colour Comes to Tangles and go on a technicolour journey. Each chapter is devoted to a colour, though it is fiction. It is a story about a middle-aged woman discovering herself and love through colour. So don’t shy away from colour. It’s good for us. It’s beautiful. You might find yourself and romance like my character, Tanya.

Colour is beautiful and all around us in nature. Imagine living in a world that only has a pale white sky, brown faded grass, trees totally bare of leaves, etc. Countries that have long winters long to see the new green shoots of spring and enjoy the wild panorama of autumn colours.

We humans are lucky to have the light receptors, rods and cones to enable the full technicolour experience. Animals have less and are more designed for night vision and hunting. Their daytime worlds are less colourful than ours. They see in more muted tones.

The World of Colour

Colour is an integral part of our lives. Red for stop, green for go, amber for in between. Green, the colour of nature, is used as the symbolic colour for environmentalists and the rainbow as symbol of diversity. Blue for boys and pink for girls was always the go, until challenged by gender groups.

There is much to unpack when it comes to colour. If interested read The Little Book of Colour by Karen Haller. This amazing and very attractive book is all about ‘How to use the Psychology of Colour to Transform your Life’. Colour is a magical tool that can transform your life. It can, in Karen’s words, “Enhance your mood, relationships, transform the feel of your home and most importantly give you joy”. You can visit Karen’s website and join the colour club as I did.

Save the Planet, Save a Dollar

Suddenly, I like Toto and Dorothy, was whisked off into another world, not the world of Oz where the wizard lives, but in a place where it is okay to make colour choices that express your individuality. Karen would surely approve of us cutting up our clothes to make a fresh, colourful statement. We don’t have to fall for the latest colour fashion trends. Just because orange is in, we don’t have to ditch our pink and green to slavishly follow. Colour choice defines us as individuals not orange robots or Artificial Intelligence.

Jewellery is a fun thing to refashion too. Necklaces can become bracelets, pendants, brooches and hairbands, even belts. Using your wonderful gift of imagination you can create beauty with a new function from a tired old relics and save money for something else.

Save our Planet, Find Yourself, One Dress at a Time

Style is a way of declaring who you are without even opening your mouth. With your refashioned clothing and accessories you will be even more individual, as each piece will be unique. You will not only save a dollar but the planet as well. Go get the scissors and go for it! Embrace colour, embrace your individuality and express it through your colour choices and unique outfits. You will feel like a new woman, reinvented and joyful, expressing your unique voice and saving the planet one dress at a time.

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Joni Scott is an Australian author with three published novels: Whispers through Time and The Last Hotel and Colour Comes to Tangles. Joni also co-hosts a women’s blog; and has her own website;


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