Fast fashion is bad.
I don’t mean to sound preachy here. I aim to lead by example and educate others so they can make an informed decision about the products they buy and the companies they support. But when you look at the facts, objectively it’s hard to disagree that fast fashion is really problematic in a lot of ways.
Today I want to share some steps that you can take to fight fast fashion. But first, let’s talk about why we need to fight it in the first place.
The problems with fast fashion
Fast fashion is defined as “an approach to the design, creation, and marketing of clothing fashions that emphasizes making fashion trends quickly and cheaply available to consumers” (source).
It used to be that new trends were introduced every season. Now, the trends change weekly. This is driving consumers to purchase clothing, shoes, and accessories way more often than necessary. Basically, the fashion industry and retailers are preying on consumer behaviour to make as big a profit as possible.
There are a lot of reasons why this is causing trouble, and it’s a topic that deserves its own lengthy article. However, I’ll do a quick summary of the key points here.
Firstly, it’s terrible for the environment. It takes a lot of resources to produce clothing. For example, it takes approximately 10,000 litres of water to make just one pair of jeans. At the other end of the product lifecycle, the amount of clothing that ends up in landfills is astonishing. It’s very hard to recycle blended fabrics and if they can’t be re-sold, they end up as waste.
Fast fashion is a big problem for a lot of people, too. In countries where many of the products are produced, there are poor working conditions and low wages. Again, on the flip side of the product lifecycle, when we donate our clothing and it doesn’t sell in a thrift store, a lot of the time it’s sold overseas to developing countries, which in turn competes with local businesses and disrupts local economies. (For more information, I suggest watching The True Cost documentary – it’s very eye-opening!)
Finally, fast fashion is bad for you. The constant change in trends makes us feel like we need to have the latest style to be keeping up with others. We’re driven to spend too much of our hard-earned money on clothing that doesn’t last and that just creates clutter in our closets. In turn, that clutter leads to stress.
So perhaps now you’re convinced that something needs to change in the way that the fashion industry operates. Unfortunately, that’s extremely hard to do. What we do have the power to do, however, is change our behaviour as consumers. Here are 10 easy steps that you can take to become a more conscious consumer and fight fast fashion!
Steps you can take to fight fast fashion
The clothes you buy
It all starts with when we purchase new clothes. Changing our behaviour here has the greatest impact on reducing the damage fast fashion is doing.
1. Buy less.
If there’s one change that you make, make it this. Don’t buy something unless you truly need it. Take a look at my article on how to shop like a minimalist for some tips!
2. Shop secondhand.
Instead of buying brand new clothes, buy used. Most cities have a great selection of thrift shops, and if not there are ways to buy used online, using sites like Poshmark or apps like Depop. This article shares some more detail on reasons to shop secondhand.
3. Shop ethical and/or sustainable brands.
Do your research on the companies you purchase from and their practices. The Good Trade has this great article on ethical clothing brands to help get you started.
4. Choose quality over quantity.
If you’re going to buy something, buy it to last. You will get the most value for your money and reduce the frequency at which you need to replace your clothes.
5. Buy basic staples, not trend-driven.
It might be fun to dress with the current trends, but they’ll go out of style the next week and you won’t wear it again. Instead, build a wardrobe with more basic staples that you can get a lot of wear out of, and just a handful of trendier pieces.
The clothes you have
6. Take good care of what you have.
Wash your clothing according to the label, and get a small sewing kit to use for mending holes and buttons. My article on how to take care of your clothes has some great tips.
7. Consider creating a capsule wardrobe.
This will ensure that your closet is filled with high-quality items that you love, so you can reduce clutter and get more wear out of what you own.
The clothes you don’t want
8. Give them directly to someone who wants them.
If you need to donate some items, check with your family and friends first to see if they want to take anything. Or, host a clothing swap to trade with friends!
9. Resell them.
There are lots of ways to resell your clothes, which is a great way to ensure they don’t end up in a landfill while also making some cash on the side. Check out this article for some tips.
10. Recycle your clothes yourself.
Finally, if you really don’t want them and can’t sell or give them away, get creative and find a way to continue using them. Perhaps you can turn that old pair of jeans into a re-usable shopping bag, or that cotton tee into re-usable makeup remover wipes. The possibilities are endless!
Let me know which steps you will take to fight fast fashion in the comments below.
I hope you enjoyed this article, and thank you for reading!
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Featured photo by Bart Jaillet on Unsplash