There are numerous ways you can do your bit for the planet, and of them is by changing your fashion habits.
I know — the very thought can be overwhelming. How are you going to change the aesthetics you’ve been flaunting for the last few years? Will you still feel “you”? Will you be able to find a new style that you feel comfortable and confident in?
The thing is that fast fashion has been a bit of a monkey on many of our backs for a few years now. It’s inexpensive, it looks good, but it’s also mass-produced, of a generally poor quality, and it’s also one of the most damaging industries for the planet.
In this article, I want to take a look at how you can quit fast fashion for good and adopt a new aesthetic that’s still “you” — but a more guilt-free version of you.
Read clothing labels
Ever picked up a jar of jam and put it back because its sugar levels were just so high?
Or how about the time you picked up a tin of tuna and put it back because you hadn’t realized it contained that much sodium?
Many of us have gotten really good at reading food labels. But we’re still pretty bad at reading clothing labels. Here’s the thing: the better you are at reading clothing labels, the easier it will be to quit fast fashion.
An example: When the label says “organic” cotton, you can be sure that the item of clothing was ethically produced. Why? Because the Global Organic Textile Standard holds firms to a high standard whenever they use this term. It can’t be used errantly.
On the other hand, “sustainable” and “conscious” are super vague terms that don’t really mean a lot. All they do is make everyone feel a bit better.
Another thing to look out for is Fair Trade Certification. Fair Trade is a bona fide thing, and it’s a seal of approval that the item of clothing in question was made by a company that has adhered to specific economic, environmental and social standards. This means the good people who made it were treated well, and they were paid a liveable wage.
Check for greenwashing
We wrote an article about greenwashing a while back. It’s been a whole year, in fact, since that article was published and greenwashing continues to be a very real thing in the fashion industry.
Essentially, greenwashing is when a brand claims to be sustainable and doing their bit for the planet, but in reality they’re not living up to their claims.
The problem is that it’s not easy to discern whether or not a brand is greenwashing. You could sift through online reviews (I suggest using the keywords “[brand name] greenwashing” in Google), and you could also take a really look at their website. Here are some things to watch out for:
- They have thousands of style choices
- They seem to be updating their selection every single day
- Their garments are made from cheap material
- They’re super vague about what it is they do for the environment (simply saying “we’re sustainable” should raise suspicions)
I must admit that I was a later comer to the secondhand scene. I had a mate who got there before me, and he would proudly show me the stuff he’d bought. He showed me a pair of t-shirts, a sweater and a lovely new Gingham shirt.
“And it all cost just $30.”
I couldn’t believe it. $30 and it looked good.
Secondhand shopping is honestly one of the most fun things you can do because there’s always the chance you’ll find some real gems. Not just that, but you’re quitting fast fashion and swapping it for a much more conscious consumption shopping choice.
That said, there is a bit of an art to secondhand shopping. It’s surprisingly easy to spend a whopping half an hour sifting through racks of clothes, and at that point you feel as though you should leave with something. Otherwise, it was just a complete waste of time, right? The best thing to do in that scenario is to just — walk out! If you don’t, you may end up with too many clothes you don’t even want.
You should also make sure to correctly measure yourself before heading out, too.
Also, you’ll need to know where to shop. Here are the types of shops where you can find secondhand clothes, and which you’ll find in most city centers:
- Thrift shops
- Resale shops
- Consignment shops
Find your new favorite ethical clothing brand
Speaking of shopping online, you’ll want to pop online at some point to find an ethical clothing brand who matches your aesthetic.
I suggest starting with an ethical fashion platform, although the exact one you go for will depend on your budget.
It’s also worth taking the time to make sure any platform you choose really is ethical. The problem here is that this sort of stuff takes up more of your time, and sifting through the numerous “ethical” brands can lead to shopping fatigue. However, it will be well worth it in the long run when you’ve found the ethical clothing brand(s) you love.
Here are some ethical fashion platforms to check out:
Host a clothes swapping party
What’s more fun than going shopping?
Okay, there probably isn’t anything that’s more fun than going shopping for some of you! But coming close in second place is hosting a clothes swapping party. This is exactly what you imagine it is: you and your friends get together for drinks, a bit of food — and you swap clothes by dumping them all into a big pile.
You probably should try to establish a bit of order on the proceedings so that it doesn’t turn into a free-for-all. But as long as everyone goes home with something new to wear that they really like, it's happy days for us all.
Now, where’s that cocktail…
Found the cocktail.
Ultimately, many of us know that in our hearts that fast fashion is bad for the environment, as well as the laborers who produce the clothes we wear. If you’ve decided that now’s the time to quit — congrats. But, of course, you still want to look good. Use the tips in this article to quit fast fashion and take your sustainable clothing choices to the next level.
And pro tip when you host a clothes swapping party — make sure to invite that friend whose outfits you’ve always envied.
If you liked this article, make sure to check our guide to thrifting and stories of the people who don't buy new clothes anymore.
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