It is more than evident that I love clothes. Clothes for me, are more than just a piece of fabric, they have the ability to change my mood, they are an outlet to express myself and to play with my creativity. However, being honest with you, I feel a bit conflicted. I love fashion, but I love our planet and people even more, and knowing that the fashion industry is nowadays the second most polluting industry in the world after oil, has made me reconsider my consumer behavior and fashion choices.
The facts are shocking, according to recent studies, the world now consumes about 80 billion new pieces of clothing every year! and every second the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned. Not to mention the links that fashion has with human exploitation and health issues.
I feel uncomfortable knowing that behind the clothes I own, there is a lot of bad stuff going on, that doesn’t reflect who I am. It has taken a lot of time to get to this moment, where I can share my thoughts about the topic. I’ve done a lot of reading, watched lots of documentaries such as The True Cost, heard countless podcasts and Ted Talks that have helped me understand the problematic. It is, in fact, a very complex problem, that has many layers. The industry, governments, workers, consumers. But the good news is that a big part of the solution lays on us, the consumers! And whether you are a fashion lover or not, we are all part of it, WE ALL wear clothes.
I am on my own journey to a more sustainable closet, trying to steer away from fast fashion. I’d like to encourage you to do the same. Don’t let the concept of “sustainable fashion” scare you. You don’t need to become a hippie, wear only hemp shirts and old clothes. And opposite to what many of us believe, there are sustainable brands out there that are pretty affordable. There is so much we can do to change the course of the fashion industry. If you read my previous blog post on sustainability, you know that I believe in the power of small collective actions and I want to share with you very simple actions you can take to be a more sustainable fashion buyer.
- Buy less: A harsh thing to hear if you, like me, love fashion and shopping. But there is no better way to reduce our impact on the planet than by consuming less.
“Buy less, buy better”
Think twice before you buy: Before you buy that item, think if it will add value to your closet. Does it match with things you already have? Do you own something similar? Are you going to wear it multiple times? or you want it just because it is trendy? Are you buying it just because it is on sale? By avoiding impulse buys we reduce waste, and at the same time save lots of money, win-win!
- Learn to read the tags on the clothes you buy
Have you wondered what are your clothes made off? Where do they come from? And, what do they do to you and their environmental impact? Looking at the tags of our clothes can help us make better choices. So let’s categorize the fabrics into “good” and bad ones:
- Bad Fabrics: Nylon, polyester, acrylic, and acetate (that are made from crude oil) are not only bad for the environment as their production process is very dirty and they take hundreds of years to disintegrate. They are also bad for our health, research has linked them to cancer and many other health issues.
- Good fabrics: In terms of environmental impact, natural fibers like cotton, wool, hemp, linen are generally a better choice, especially if we look for organic fibers. However, let’s not forget that the production of any type of fiber will have an impact on the environment and on the workers who produce it.
- Take care of your items: following the care instructions, washing clothes at a low temperature, and washing them less will extend their life span and therefore reduce future consumption.
- Fix it!: You don’t need to ditch a piece of clothing that is missing a button or that ripped a little. Learn how to sew or if that’s not a skill you want to have, take it to a tailor or a shoemaker, in that way you are not only saving money that you would invest in yet another disposable item, you are as well supporting local businesses.
- Research: I know this doesn’t sound like fun, but taking the time to look into what the brands you wear are doing for the environment, how they are treating their workers, etc, will help you make more ethical choices when it comes to fashion. Let’s spend our money on sustainable-minded brands!
Choose quality over quantity & style over trends.
- Buy vintage/second-hand items: By buying items that already exist, you are cutting the demand for fast fashion. And guys, thrifting is so much fun! Plus you won’t be wearing the same clothes everyone else has.
- Give a second life to your clothes: Donate your clothes to people or organizations that really need them, have a clothing swap with your friends or sell them. I give a second chance to my unworn items by selling them on united wardrobe. Good for the environment and my wallet.
- Be proud: Embrace your sustainable steps, as big or small they may be. The goal is to own a closet you are proud of. The waste, pollution and human rights issues related to fashion is not something we are going to solve overnight, but there are small steps we can take towards a more sustainable fashion and preserve our planet. And it starts with you!
I am curious to know if you are already doing any of the above. And if you have any other tips, please leave them on the comments section!