Enabling change in our Society, Environment and Economy (SEE)

Sustainable Threads

While many have been concerned about how sustainable our food is not much attention has been paid to sustainable clothes. Slow food has been around for ages – now we need to join the slow fashion movement.

Australians buy 27 kilos of textiles per year and throw out 6 tonnes every 10 minutes.

Ecological Footprint information for Canberra shows that the clothes we buy have a significant impact on our footprint.

At SEE-Change we are encouraging people to think about:

  • what sort of fabrics our clothes are made from? Natural fibres are best as the break down at the end of their life¬†5 best natural fabrics
  • where the fabric is sourced from? Even wool grown in Australia is usually sent overseas for processing. There are a few exceptions to this. For example, see this collaboration¬†between a Tasmanian merino grower and a suit designer.
  • who made your clothes? Were they paid a fair wage and worked under fair conditions? Look for products that are labelled ‘fair trade’
  • how are they dyed (with toxic chemicals or organic dyes)?
  • are they well made or will they fall apart quickly?
  • what happens to your clothes at the end of their life? Do they end in landfill or are they sent overseas to developing countries where they become their problem?

We advocate for alternative ways to clothe yourself:

  • make your own and repair your clothes
  • shop at pre-loved stores
  • upcycle clothes
  • stick to a capsule wardrobe
  • attend a clothes swap.

Why not take up a Buy Nothing New challenge – grab a friend and buy no new clothes for one week, one month, one year. SEE-Change’s Executive Officer, Edwina Robinson committed in 2017 to one year of buying no new clothes. You can read about her journey here.

During 2018 we will hold events that focus on being more mindful about our clothing.


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With thanks to our


  • ACT Government Environment and Planning
  • The Association of Independent Schools of the ACT (AISACT)
  • Catholic Education Office (Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn)
  • Education and Training Directorate
  • ACT Government