We have lost control, it has gotten out of hand. The fast fashion industry is going too fast for our planet to cope with. How did something so simple as keeping us clothed and comfortable through the seasons, transform into one of the most polluting industries to date? In order to restore the resources and balance of our planet, we need to turn inwards and look closely at our own contribution to its destruction. If we all chip in and alter our habits – we could be the change our planet so desperately needs.
But first, what makes fashion ‘fast’?
The easy answer? Garments that are quickly designed, rapidly produced, cheaply sold and swiftly consumed. Think of your local high street, packed with famous stores and big chains who sell the trendiest items for a bargain. This fashion model is not only unsustainable but also unethical. The fast fashion industry comprises 10% of total global carbon emissions, consumes and pollutes water sources and influences the earth’s biodiversity. But it also sustains an immoral working environment in sweatshops overseas where the workers get paid as little as 3 US cents per hour on a 100-hour workweek.
Especially now – when the earth’s resources are becoming exhausted and inhumane working conditions worsen – it is time to act. Let us become more conscious of our own spending and do better. Here are 5 easy tips on how to embrace slow fashion and slow down the industry, for everyone.
1. Stay away from high street chains
It goes without saying that brands who offer a t-shirt for €3,- on sale, are not sustainable. If you have to buy something new, make sure to do a background check on the fashion brand and research with the following questions in the back of your head:
- What do they say about sustainability and their environmental impact?
- Are they transparent about their resources and fibers?
- What is their score on the Good On You-app?
- Are they transparent about their labor and production policies?
- Are they working on improving their footprint? What do they share about Animal Welfare?
If your brand research results in positive answers, you’re good to go and make a conscious purchase.
2. Second hand
Looking for a new coat for winter? Check your local thrift store or vintage shop first. It is always the most sustainable option to recycle what has already been produced. If you don’t have time to step outside and hunt for vintage treasures, there’s always the option to check out online vintage resellers. Vinted, Depop and Vestiaire Collective are just some of the many options available to help you find that item you were looking for without having to leave your home. Even on Instagram, there are a lot of accounts that own small-scale online vintage stores.
3. Check the list of fibers
When you have to buy something new, always make sure to check the label and list of fibers. Terms such as ‘recycled’ and ‘organic’ can be misleading. They give an immediate sustainable impression – but this is not always the case. Beware of greenwashing and critically assess if they use the right kinds of fibers. Especially avoid synthetic fibers such as polyester and nylon, which discharge microplastics in your washing machine and end up in our waterways. Also, most animal-based fibers such as (non-organic) cotton, wool, leather and cashmere have a notably negative environmental impact. For a full overview of good and bad fabrics, check out www.sustainyourstyle.org.
4. Trade with friends
Sometimes, we just want to spice up our wardrobes. And perhaps your friends were thinking the exact same thing. Suggest a swap-party and ask your friends to bring clothes they do not wear anymore. It could be fun and resourceful to raid your friends’ closets first before considering buying something new. Even if you’re just borrowing a garment for a special occasion!
5. Repair and upcycle
Why get rid of something that has a hole or broken zipper? Rethink before throwing it out. Can it still be fixed? Or can you upcycle it into something else you would also like to wear? If you’re not crafty, discuss your ideas with a clothing repair facility in your neighborhood.
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