The Essential Tips for Avoiding Fast Fashion
By Jennifer Hahn Masterson
We all love a good bargain, but then again, it's true what they say that you get what you pay for. The cheap price tag is alluring and fast fashion is practically free, but someone somewhere is paying for that. Besides the actual cheap labour that puts it all together for way below minimum wage and often in inhumane conditions, the social and environmental costs of quick and cheaply available fashion is incalculable.
These are the reasons we need to think twice before go shopping for clothes and learn how to avoid fast fashion. Hopefully, the following tips can help you do exactly that.
Learn who makes your clothes
As much as human right abuses are sadly still widespread, this is not an accepted norm any longer. Many fashion brands have stood up against fast fashion and reorganised their business with greater ethical considerations. You can contribute to this cause as well by doing some research and learning about who makes your clothes and how. There are also third-party certifications that undoubtedly prove how a certain business is conducted and whether there's any greenwashing involved.
Find out the hidden environmental costs
In addition to the social injustices, there’s a lot of environmental harm ensuing from the production of “a perfect outfit.” You only need to consider the following facts and you'll understand the dark picture of the environmental impact:
- The fashion industry is a massive water consumer using up to 93 billion cubic metres of water a year.
- Whopping 87% of fibre in discarded clothes end up in landfills.
- From 62 million metric tons of clothes we consume now, the number is predicted to rise to 102 million tons by 2030.
- Around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the fashion industry which is more than international air transport and maritime shipping combined.
- Unfortunately, recycling old clothes isn’t saving the day here - textile recycling rates are the lowest of any reusable material.
There are lots of ways you can look and feel great in the clothes you wear without harming the planet. It just takes a bit of creativity! For instance, you can organise a clothing swap – invite some friends, prepare good snacks and a range of yummy drinks, and transform one person’s junk into another one’s treasure! This is a wonderful way to get rid of clothes you no longer wear, get some “fresh” pieces for you and reconnect with your friends after many months of distancing and separation.
Also, you can simply roll up your sleeves and get down to work yourself – learn how to mend and sew! We frequently discard a garment as it currently lacks a button, there’s a gaping hole or the zipper is stuck. Check out tutorial videos online, learn a few hacks and give your old garment some much needed TLC.
As a new bachelor's degree in fashion design explains, the fashion system is a massive and unpredictable territory where success comes not only to those who are ready to work hard but also to those who have innate curiosity and creativity. That enables them to notice even the slightest details and take advantage of them when tailoring and sewing.
Become a minimalist
Speaking of conscious fashion, the basic rule is "less is more". Regardless of how sustainably a garment is produced, it has still left a footprint. When you take into account the necessary raw materials, water, energy and chemicals needed to process and produce clothes, and the costs of subsequent transport, it's obvious there's no such thing as zero-impact fashion.
As much as you dedicate yourself to choosing sustainable brands which offset their carbon emissions, use renewable energy and eco-friendly materials, still, the best option is abstaining from buying new clothes.
Pick your materials and brands more carefully
The materials that each garment is made of has a critical impact on both social and environmental factors. Some materials are almost impossible to recycle and some, such as synthetic or semi-synthetic like viscose and rayon fabric, require huge amounts of toxic chemicals in their production process.
In addition, what’s also important to consider is the sourcing of the materials. A lot of fabrics are produced unethically and inhumanely whereas others are farmed in ways that utilize enormous amounts of water, pesticides and fertilizers.
This is why you should always choose organically grown natural fibres and look for ethical fashion brands and alternatives to fast fashion. These are the businesses that are making a difference and trying to correct the wrongs from the inside. By choosing their products, we are helping them from the outside.
With a bit of extra time and effort, we can all avoid the perks of fast fashion and make an educated decision to buy and wear clothes designed and produced with the benefit of our planet and people in mind. Being a more conscious consumer, we’ll be able to bypass the dangers of greenwashing and opt for sustainable slow fashion.
About Jennifer Hahn Masterson:
I’m a lifestyle blogger with a keen interest in a wide array of topics related design, fashion and travels. In my leisure time, I like to immerse myself in a good book and try to satisfy my perpetual wanderlust.
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