Fast fashion, a term used to define the mass production of garments and their rapid sale to consumers for unbelievable prices, has left many in the dark about the negative impacts of their shopping habits. Not only does this system exploit workers and program consumer addiction, but it also has detrimental environmental impacts which have led the fashion industry to being one of the world’s top polluters. Although federal legislation would be ideal, consumers do have considerable power to reverse this profit-over-people cycle.
The most important and easiest way to combat fast fashion is to think before you buy. Nowadays, the majority of our purchases are impulsive, either made online with a simple click or in-store under the pressure of missing out on a “once in a lifetime deal.” However, by taking the time to question a purchase before you make it, you will not only save money but also be more likely to use the item rather than having it join the void of other unworn clothes in your closet. There should also be more of an emphasis on using what you already have rather than feeding into the consumer wasteland of fast fashion, check your closet before making any purchase!
In addition, supporting sustainable companies with fashion-forward initiatives is always a reliable way to shop mindfully. This encourages research prior to making the purchase; look for durable and natural materials, fair labor conditions, and reasonable pricing to match the quality. Although these purchases will be more expensive, they can easily be balanced out by shopping second-hand. They will also be worth the investment because supporting up-and-coming sustainable companies can promote future expansion in a current economic system that is based on consumption over quality.
However, when buying from sustainable companies is not an option, instead, focus on buying fewer, higher-quality items. As the demand for eco-friendly fashion has been on the rise, fast fashion companies have even created “sustainable” clothing lines to meet their consumer’s growing interest in being Earth-friendly. Although these garments cannot truly be considered sustainable, it is still an eco-friendly choice that shows support for the company’s further growth in the area of sustainability. It’s a simple economic theory: if there is a demand for more sustainable options, companies will respond by raising their production values when they realize that there is a reliable market for eco-friendly garments.
Buying second-hand from thrift shops, garage sales and online market platforms are cheaper options to lessen the environmental footprint of your fashion. Not only will you usually pay a lot less than the original retail value, but it is also often easy to find high-quality pieces, possibly even brand new! For example, look for durable materials like leather when you shop second-hand because it will last you a really long time but requires no further energy to be produced.
Often, it is more than possible for you to find a large variety of items, enabling you to shop second-hand for different occasions like casual, workout, and professional. If thrift stores near you don’t have what you’re looking for, check online platforms like Thredup! Further, reselling clothes after they no longer serve you with apps like Depop or Poshmark is a fun way to give things a new life and fund your next purchases. Repurposing, swapping clothes with friends, recycling, and donating are also great ways to keep items in the cycle of use. We all love Urban Outfitters, but it is just as easy to find more sustainable and fashionable clothing items that have already been produced and are in the fashion pool by shopping second-hand.
Fashion is a creative outlet that should align with your goals and values. Shopping in a more eco-friendly way should not hinder your style or cause unnecessary stress. On the other hand, shopping consciously has helped me to develop a unique style and experiment on my own without the influence of rapidly changing trends. It is also important to realize that being more eco-friendly is not an all-or-nothing commitment; it is far better to be imperfect but committed than to be unbothered by fashion’s effects on the environment. Nobody can be a perfect environmentalist, all you can do is try your best. Ultimately, what is most sustainable for you will be the most sustainable for the Earth.