Sustainable Clothing, Learning to Mend & a Chat with the Team from Patagonia's Worn Wear

First of all let me just say hello! Its good to be back. Things have been fairly mental busy this year with the building and opening of Milish (if you haven’t had the chance, check out our new zero waste bakery @milish_bakery on instagram and www.milishbakery.com). Things are just calming down now as we starting into our autumn/winter season of wholesale delivery, classes, collaborations and events.

With #zerowasteweek just last week (you can check out the article I did on it for Easy Food magazine here) it seemed like the perfect time to get back into things. Trying to be as zero waste as possible is something I’ve been talking about a lot in the last while through the construction of Milish and on my own Saltwater Stories instagram.

Considering most of my content has typically been around food or marine/conservation work it was pretty awesome to see the reactions to the articles I did on sustainable fashion (I’ve linked them here, here and here). The cascade of DMs that came in in response to the IGTV videos on building a sustainable wardrobe was EPIC.

So beautifully timed a few weekends back the guys from Patagonia’s Worn Wear project @wornwear rocked up to Bundoran and in the middle or repairing wetsuits left, right and centre, we got to have a great chat about a more sustainable wardrobe and bust a few common myths too.

Taking names - the Worn Wear wagon at Tullan Strand in Bundoran taking in wetsuits and clothing to be repaired

Taking names - the Worn Wear wagon at Tullan Strand in Bundoran taking in wetsuits and clothing to be repaired

Usual disclaimer, this post isn’t in any way sponsored by Patagonia, I was just keen to meet the crew and learn about what they’re doing. Earlier this year I’d heard an amazing interview with Yvon Chouinard (founder of Patagonia) on the How I Built This podcast and am just super impressed with their ethos; everything from working conditions, to environmental work, to the quality of the garments and even Yvon’s determination to speak out politically.

We talked for ages but I’ll do my best to pull out a few key pieces of the conversation with Becky Hardacre for you to take onboard.

Becky, myself and Fi from Simply Green after chatting the ears off the Worn Wear team

Becky, myself and Fi from Simply Green after chatting the ears off the Worn Wear team

Lately we’ve come to demonise air travel as a major part of our carbon footprint, but Becky pointed out that just 2% of Patagonia’s carbon footprint is generated by the travel component of the business. While it is important to minimise unnecessary flights in favour of sailing, trains or buses, you can also do things like find a good site for offsetting our carbon emissions (I like planting trees with grown.ie as I trust that its definitely happening!) and bringing only carry on luggage to reduce the jet fuel consumption. Its important to remember that air travel is actually well behind some of the greatest polluters on our planet such as livestock farming and….

The textile industry! We chatted about the conundrum of being a textile company and therefore having a footprint, but agreed that the work that Patagonia does to set examples of best practice help drive industry standards forward. The Worn Wear Wagon as I met them had already been travelling for months repairing clothing and wetsuits across Europe for free. For anyone thinking “thats just clever marketing, they’ll only fix their own stuff” they actually prioritise non-Patagonia branded items, since they’ll always fix their own garments for free for as long as they possibly can.

From our chat a good rule of thumb for minimising your carbon footprint via your wardrobe was a) buy less & choose quality items that will last much longer b) ditch fast fashion (if you think that’s not possible or affordable check out my other blog on just that!) c) have damaged/ill fitting items repaired (or learn to do it yourself) d) support brands that are doing their best for the environment and workers rights and also support those that are willingly making the change. The easiest way to vote is with your €€££!

top tip; wetsuits need to be BONE DRY before any attempt at repairing or the wetsuit glue won’t hold

top tip; wetsuits need to be BONE DRY before any attempt at repairing or the wetsuit glue won’t hold

One last tip we got which I think you don't hear enough amid the reduce, reuse, repair & recycle is CLEAN your gear! Now this might sound like your mom giving out to you about your muddy boots when you were little, but it holds true now. To give outdoor adventure gear as the example I once ruined a great pair of Solomon hiking boots that had been going strong for years by not rinsing them in fresh water when I got home. I was doing a few weeks of fieldwork in waters with a mildly acidic pH and it literally ate the soles away to an extent that the boots were unrepairable. For those using wetsuits always remember to rinse your suit in fresh water, salt will make it stiff and hang it up by the waist not the shoulders to keep its shape longer.

small things can seriously prolong the life of a garment; regular cleaning, correct storage, making small repairs regularly or even big repairs (like changing the zipper) can mean years more wear

small things can seriously prolong the life of a garment; regular cleaning, correct storage, making small repairs regularly or even big repairs (like changing the zipper) can mean years more wear

If you’d be interested in more content and tips on sustainable fashion and ways to reduce your carbon footprint let me know in the comments below or get in touch on Instagram @saltwaterstories.me to keep up with the Worn Wear guys check them out on @patagoniaeurope, I’d highly recommend you have a listen to Yvon’s episode on How I Built This and check out his book Let My People Go Surfing. The @wornwear crew that I got to meet with Becky were all awesome in their own right too so check them out - Mike Guest, photographer & font of knowledge - @mrguesty , Greg Owen, wetsuit tech - @nolimitwetsuits 8X Welsh Surf Champ, making custom wetsuits for over 25 years and Neza Peterca, seamstress - @t.w.w.c co-founder of @blindchicbudapest & photographer

Finn Ni Fhaolain