New clothes can be a great confidence booster- yet the perils of ‘fast fashion’ and its knock-on effects on the planet and environment are becoming clearer and clearer. How do you balance the societal (and social media) pressure to always be wearing fashionable, new clothes with your urge to help create a more sustainable world? Try these tips out for size!
What is ‘Fast Fashion’?
We’re purchasing clothes at a rate that’s nearly five times higher than just 40 years ago- yet most of those clothes simply end up in the trash. Textile waste has doubled in the last two decades, and less than 1% of it is being recycled or converted to new textiles.
The Fast Fashion cycle has lowered the prices of clothing, but at a steep cost to the workers producing these garments in developing companies, working in harsh factory conditions where life is as expendable as that hot new top you loved last season. Cheap and ubiquitous have become the name of the game, with quality lowering across the board, too. Fast Fashion issues include:
- Low-quality, carcinogenic dyes infiltrating and poisoning the environment
- Non-sustainable fabric production
- Human rights abuses in garment production
- Artificial fibers shedding plastic pollution into the environment
- Non-biodegradable textile waste clogging landfills
And, sadly, the list is not exhaustive. If you’d rather change how you look at clothing to something which is kinder on the earth and better for humanity, as well as fitting into your budget, there’s still plenty you can do to offset this change.
1.Do the Best You Can
First up, it’s important to realize no one- unless you have a huge budget to toss around- can meet all the guidelines for ethical clothing consumption overnight. What matters is identifying your priorities- be it organic material, labor rights, or whatever matters most to you- and moving towards them at every possible step.
2.Find Brands that Care About What You Do
A lot more brands are working to make the world a better place on their side than you might realize. With the internet to help, it’s easier than ever to connect with them, too. In fact, sustainable fashion has become a bit of a trendy choice. Once you know who you can trust, you have their entire catalog open to you. And you needn’t think this means settling for ugly looks you don’t love- sizzling sustainable lingerie, epic high-end eco-friendly fashion, and so much more is out there waiting for you.
3.Learn to Care for your Garments
It’s also important to let go of the idea that one tiny flaw means the whole garment should go in the trash- especially if you love it! With YouTube and TikTok full of helpful DIY videos that will tell you how to fix, repair, and alter garments, the world is your oyster. Remember, the world is full of professional tailors who can help you tweak, change, reinvent, and rebuild garments, too. So don’t give up and toss the item at the first chance. The longer life it has in your closet, the longer it stays out of the garbage dump, and the better investment it was in the first place. And when you’re caring for garments correctly, you save energy and water and extend the life of the piece in the first place.
4.Reuse, Recycle, or Rent
Opting out of buying new clothes altogether will help save the planet and your budget. Consignment and thrift shops can yield some epic secondhand gems- sometimes still with the tags on! The secondhand clothing industry is thriving, and you’ll get something new-to-you that looks fantastic, too.
When a piece reaches the end of its life, make sure you send it to a facility that can recycle the material, too. Don’t be caught up in the idea of ‘donating’ your clothes, however, as this is a trap of its own that leads to textile dumping and flooded third-world markets. Instead, find a proper textile recycler you can work with.
And don’t forget that you can get spectacular high-end pieces from rental shops, too, so there’s no need to splurge on an evening gown for one function, either.
There’s plenty you can do to break free of the fast fashion cycle and work towards a healthier earth- and it isn’t hard, either!