The impact of fast fashion on the environment has slowly but surely become a mainstream issue in recent years. While trends around purchasing slow fashion and ethical fashion have come to light on social media, there’s still a lack of readily available information on the topic. As a consumer, it can be hard to know how to make your impact a positive one.

“Besides buying less, buying better and loving longer,” says Kit Willow, founder of sustainable luxury designer brand KitX, “buying high-frequency wear fashion” is the golden rule when looking to spruce up your wardrobe.

Avoid petrochemical fibres such as nylon and polyester, which Willow refers to as a “lose-lose” fibre. “Stay away from them,” she says, “because when they’re created, these plastic fibres release nitrous oxide (which is 300 times more toxic than carbon dioxide); when you wash them, they release micro-particles into our waterways; and then, if they’re ever discarded, they never break down and continue to release methane gases into the atmosphere.”

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To avoid clothing made with these fibres, Willow suggests opting for locally made garments constructed with organic fibres.

“Hemp is the leader in this,” she says, “because it grows very quickly; it attracts no insects, and therefore needs no insecticides or pesticides; it’s a huge carbon sink, absorbing three times as much carbon as the average tree; and it uses very little energy to transfer it from a fibre into a thread.” That compares well to cotton which, while a good alternative to petrochemical fibres, uses an enormous amount of water and often requires treatment with insecticides and pesticides.

Once you become more aware about choosing clothing made from the right fibres, the next challenge is understanding how to care for these garments.

“Washing in cold water and hanging to dry is so much better for the fibres than washing in hot water and using a dryer,” Willow says. “By heating up your clothes, you’re breaking the fibre down, which affects the longevity of the garment.”

To bring awareness of the impacts of fast fashion on the environment into the mainstream, Willow and the KitX team have created the Future From Waste Lab to help educate the public. “Because if you don’t know, you don’t care. And if you don’t care, you don’t change,” Willow says.

Running as part of Melbourne Fashion Week 2022, the Future From Waste Lab will open its doors to emerging designers for an experimental sustainable fashion event called Wastefest. Four emerging designers have been selected by Willow, Artclub by Heidi Middleton, and Beulah to take over the lab and create an outfit using recycled textiles.

Visitors are welcome to attend and watch the event in the daily tours running from October 10 to October 14. A wrap party will be held on October 15 for an evening of fashion, music and celebrations with the team and designers.

More info and register for free.

This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Beta By Sth Bnk.