It’s the ultimate catch-22 for a generation defined by our social consciouses and fashion choices and consumption. Can the fashion industry ever be environmentally-friendly if the industry is driven by the idea of “fast-fashion”? If we are constantly buying the latest trends and styles, how can we expect to make an environmental difference while simultaneously taking a stance against sustainability?
Of course, the obvious answer is to slow down consumption. But how can we do that when we are constantly feeling the need to buy the latest and greatest product or piece of clothing that fits the latest trend? It seems like an impossible problem to solve.
But we are the generation of change, after all. And while the industry as a whole needs to make changes in production, we can each individually as consumers can take strides in our everyday lives. Small changes add up; hopefully leading towards a more environmentally-friendly future for the fashion industry and world as a whole.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you become more sustainable when it comes to clothing and fashion.
1—Slow Down Consumption
The fashion industry is consumer-driven, meaning fast fashion retailers like H&M and Zara are constantly updating and refreshing their inventory because they know there is a demand for it and consumers will buy it. This gives us, consumers, the power to slow down consumption and completely shift the direction of the industry. We can slow down and change the ideas of “fast-fashion” by being smarter with our choices; no more buying just to buy. Did you know Americans throw away about 70 lbs of clothing per person every year?! If we all bought less pieces and invested in more quality pieces then we as consumers would be signifying a consumer slow down to retailers.
photo via @lifewiithliv
2—Support Artisans, Buy Handmade
We all love to reward ourselves now and then (and if you’re anything like me you probably feel the need to shop when you’re having a bad day, and that’s okay!). But instead of supporting fast fashion retailers and frivolously buying something that you may not actually wear, try buying handmade to support artisans, both local and worldwide. There are so many neat products made by companies whose mission it is to give back, like employing international (and local) artisans, and shopping with these brands is one of the best ways to show support and help make a difference.
Photo via @beedurst
3—Make It Last
Remember the days when there was a town tailor? Well, good news, they still exist and can be super helpful. Find a tailor or seamstress and have them repair your damaged clothes rather than throwing them out and buying more. Or, if you’re more of the hands on type, learn how to sew and mend your clothing yourself. A lot of the latest trends have been about distressing and revamping vintage styles so head to the back of your parents closet, or your local thrift store and have fun playing designer to come up with some pieces that are unique to you.
photo via @livmauriello
4—Do Your Homework
You know the saying spend your money wisely? Well that pertains to not just what you are buying, but who you are buying from. Make sure to do your homework and research about the brands, their products, and practices before making any fashion purchases. You may find that the name of the label, rather than the price tag, is ultimately the thing driving your decision to buy that item or not.
photo via @erin.esther
5—Buy For Quality
What would you rather eat? A single gourmet, warm chocolate-chip cookie from your favorite bakery or a bunch of stale Chips Ahoy? Doesn’t the former sound so much more satisfying (and delicious). The same can be applied to fashion. Always purchase the best quality, most responsibly produced item you can afford. You should want to invest in pieces that will last you multiple seasons, not quantity.
photo via @tracieaneles
6—Make a List
Make a list of what you have, need and want prior to going shopping so you’re not aimlessly walking around grabbing everything off the racks. When you find something you like, ask yourself “Will I wear this more than three times?” and if the answer is no, immediately put it back.
7—Reuse, Reduce, and Curate.
It’s not just about what we are adding to our closets, but taking away as well. The idea of a capsule wardrobe is super helpful. Not only will you save space in your closet and a lot less clutter, but owning less pieces will make getting dressed in the morning a lot easier as well. With those garments you don’t wear anymore, try selling your unwanted clothes for a little extra cash, and whatever doesn’t sell be sure to donate or recycle! The act of tidying up your closet will make a difference not only in your everyday life, but you’ll be making a difference environmentally as well!
photo via @mmoor
It might seam basic but one of the easiest things to do to make a difference environmentally is conserve water. Wash your clothes less and only wash them when they’re actually dirty; no need to wash the pants you threw on for an hour to go to dinner in.
9—Take a Stance
Decide what it is that’s most important to you when it comes to sustainability and environmentally-friendly practices. Vegan and cruelty-free? Sustainably made? Ethically made? Produced locally? Handmade by artisans? Trying to solve all the world’s problems at one time sounds incredible in theory; but in practice will most likely leave you overwhelmed. Pick what stands out to you most and stick with it!
photo via @biancacanales
10—Pay the Knowledge Forward
Talk to your friends and family about what you’re learning so that you may positively influence their choices. If anything, you’ll make them more aware of your journey and practices, so that they can keep that in mind when shopping for you.
photo via @missemmymay
The clothing we choose to wear everyday says a lot about more than just our personality; they speak to what were passionate about it and have an even bigger impact on the planet than we think. Sustainability is an important issue that the fashion industry is currently facing and all it takes is one person to start the change; our clothes can either continue to be part of the problem, or they can play a huge role in getting our planet back on track. The choice is ours.