It is a well-known fact that fast-fashion has harmed the environment. Each year around 12-million pounds of textiles are sent to landfills in the U.S alone, according to “What is Sustainable Fashion? — REDRESS RALEIGH.” On top of the egregious environmental impact, fast-fashion has also contributed to the exploitation of those in underdeveloped countries around the world. Luckily, fashion is driven by capitalism and if consumers change their buying practices, fashion may become more eco-friendly.
Here are some ways to building an ethical, eco-friendly wardrobe:
1. Change your behaviors.
Many people opt-out of wearing pieces once the trend goes out of style. A common notion is that you can’t be seen in the same outfit twice. This philosophy has ended up putting a lot of good outfits in the landfill. A true fashion guru should know how to make outfits work with pieces they already own. Mix and match pieces to invent new outfits. Sure, the pieces may have been seen before, but the overall composition can change each time.
2. Be intentional.
Have you ever bought a shirt from an Instagram advert and once it came in the mail it tore the moment you put an arm through?
Fast-fashion companies cut a lot of corners in order to make their products cheaper for the consumer. In doing that, the clothing that they sell ends up being really cheaply made with low-quality fabrics and techniques used to prioritize quantity over quality. The truth is that it costs to have good quality clothes and some may feel that it is better to just buy a new piece if an older piece gets worn down, not only does that contribute to overconsumption, but it is actually more expensive than the other option. If you buy quality pieces, you don’t have to worry about buying it again in the future – as long as you take care of it properly. Being intentional and viewing your wardrobe as a long-term investment rather than a short-term purchase will take you a long way in both being an ethical consumer and conserving the dollars in your pocket.
3. Check your clothing labels!
The fabrics that make up your clothing is very important, not only for your personal comfort, but to the environment. The reason clothing is so damaging in landfills is because much of the material used is not biodegradable. Plant-based materials are the most eco-friendly option for those who want to shop ethically. Recycled cotton, organic linen, and organic hemp are a few plant-based options while recycled wool is an animal-alternative according to “Good on You.” These options are less harmful on the earth than artificial materials like polyester and leather. Many materials require exploitation of the Earth’s resources and unethical labor. Check your clothing labels!
4. “One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure”
This one may be obvious, but instead of throwing away pieces you no longer want – pass them on! You can get paid for giving away clothes at many local thrift stores as long as they are in good condition. Many homeless shelters will also take clothes off of your hands and while you may not make any money from it, you still make someone’s day! Sites like Depop and Grailed are also perfect alternatives as you can make your own little business out of it by setting your own prices. Instead of killing the earth with your discarded pieces, breathe new life into them by giving them away to someone else!
5. Education is Key
One of the best things you can do in order to combat fast-fashion and contribute to sustainable fashion is to stay informed. Doing your research on a brand before purchasing pieces from them can save you from contributing to the problem and giving your money to a company that does not have your best interests in mind. Learning more about fashion ethics and clothing production may allow you to make well-informed decisions when acting as a consumer.
The elephant in the room is that one individual will not save the world. The truth is that mega-corporations and capitalism is to blame for the climate change crisis. With that being said, fashion is the largest contributor to landfill waste. Things may not change overnight, but if we all make some small tweaks to how we consume products, it is worth a shot to see how far we can go.