AUTHOR: HANNAH NAYLOR (https://theclimatechance.wordpress.com/)
In the last blog post we briefly covered the many drastic consequences of fast fashion, both environmental and social, and I hope you were encouraged to try and cut down your consumption of these items. However, this doesn’t mean you have to give up on your interest with fashion all together; there are many ways to still express yourself and experiment with different styles without harming the planet or contributing to social inequalities.
1) Shop second hand!!
This one may seem obvious, especially since you're probably viewing this blog post on an online vintage store, but nonetheless the merits of second-hand/vintage shopping should not be understated. The clothes have been worn before, and were probably made to be of much better quality than cheap fast fashion items, meaning you can wear and style the pieces many times before potentially passing them back to a charity shop or selling them. Additionally, the most important benefit of second-hand shopping is that they haven’t contributed any greenhouse gases to the environment through their production, because they were made years ago! Result!!
What’s more, second hand items available in many vintage and charity shops are often one of a kind pieces, and you have much more choice in terms of picking items which you want to wear as opposed to only having the choice of what’s currently ‘in’ at the moment, as is often the case in mainstream highstreet shops and online fast fashion websites.
Finally, socially this option is also great because you’ll often be supporting small and upcoming individual vintage stores, or in many cases you’ll be directly donating to charity shops by buying from them. Yes that’s right, you get to shop for cool clothes whilst simultaneously supporting charities!! Ebay, Depop and Vintage are also all great online platforms to shop for second-hand clothing. Not to mention the fact that by shopping at shops and platforms like these you aren’t supporting the outrageous working conditions for many working in fast fashion supply chains.
2) Rewear the clothes you already have
This one may seem unappealing at first, or may seem completely natural to others. Just think about it for a moment - you bought X piece of clothing because you liked it, you thought it looked good on you, it made you feel great, it was your style etc ... So why would you not want to wear that same piece over and over, as these reasons still stand? It has become incredibly normalised and there is even a pressure to be wearing new outfits all the time, but this concept is ridiculous when you start to unpick it. The key is to buy well-made, sustainably bought pieces which you are happy to wear over and over, as opposed to having lots of cheap, poorly made pieces of clothing which you buy for the sake of having a new top only to never wear again. If you won’t wear the item over and over, then don’t buy it.
Another method for rewearing your clothes if you aren’t keen on wearing the same exact outfits every week is to be adventurous with which items you pair together. For example, by wearing a top you’d normally wear with your favourite jeans with a skirt instead and a different jacket it will look like an entirely new outfit, when in reality all you’ve done is switch up which clothes you’d normally wear together. It’s time to dive through your drawers and wardrobe and fish out those items you’ve had lying around for years but rarely ever wear so you can mix up your look without buying any new clothes.
And if both of these methods fail and you’re in a pinch for what to wear, why not message a friend/sibling and ask to borrow something of theirs? This way you may be able to wear an item or whole outfit you haven’t worn before without having to buy anything, and afterwards you can simply give it back to them, no harm caused.
3) Shop from ‘sustainable’ brands
Sometimes it’s hard to avoid buying new clothes, for example if you need new underwear or you really NEED a specific item which you have failed to find in any second-hand shops or online platforms. There are still more sustainable options though, before you go running to the cheapest fast fashion online outlet.
However, it’s important to know what these brands are actually doing in order to call themselves sustainable. For example, is the fabric recycled? Are the materials sustainably sourced and fair trade? These are some key concepts you should look out for, as otherwise any brand can claim to be sustainable when this isn’t actually the case. Some examples of sustainable brands include Organic Basics, Gilt Design, Armed Angels and People Tree (there are many more out there, all it takes is a quick google to find lists of sustainable brands). In addition, more mainstream shops often do have more sustainable ranges, such as H&M with their ‘Conscious’ line, however it’s important to know by shopping with these companies you’re still supporting all of their practices which are not overall sustainable.
Obviously nobody is perfect, and there may be times when you end up buying something cheap in a fashion emergency or when you have no other option, but you shouldn’t beat yourself up about it. Anyway, even if the item is cheap, as long as you wear it until its end or make sure to pass it on to a new home somehow this is still much better than quickly throwing the item into landfill after wearing it once. As long as you’re always trying to shop more sustainably you’re doing much better than a lot of people, and you won’t be contributing massively to the environmental degradation or social injustices that come alongside fast fashion either.