The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries on the planet: washing polyester fabric sheds plastic into water systems with every cleaning and toxic chemicals are the bedrock of textile dyeing. The amount of water and pesticides used in cotton production have been known to cause drought and have even been linked to cancer. Then there’s the textile waste that comes from the public consumption of fast fashion: buying, wearing and disposing of a garment after only a few years, sometimes even months.
Then there’s the exploitation of skilled labour. People who are employed in the production of clothes often work in poor conditions and are overworked and underpaid, many also underage. Not to mention the fact that the fashion supply chain, mainly the tier 2 and tier 3 suppliers, consists of forced and trafficked labour. There are many things that each individual can do to drastically reduce their consumption of fast fashion.
1. Adopt a minimalist approach
You don’t have to switch to a capsule wardrobe or go totally Marie Kondo (unless you actually want to). It is, however, a good idea to go through all your clothes and really think about what you never wear and what you love. You can use three boxes: a YES box, a NO box and a MAYBE box. Put the YES clothes back into your closet, sell, exchange or give to charity the clothes from the NO box and keep the MAYBE box for three to six months. The clothes you fail to wear in this time are most probably a NO.
Now, think about the clothes you threw away. Why was that? Were they the wrong colour? The wrong size? Just not your style? Made of cheap, unpleasant material? Didn’t match your other clothes? If, for example, you’re not into clubbing, that might be the reason you never wore that glitter crop top. Think about all of this next time you’re buying new clothes. Looking at the items you kept can also be helpful. Try to create daily outfits out of the clothes that you have. What’s missing? Do you have the right clothes to wear to places and events you usually attend (work, parties, sport, holidays, etc.)? From now on, try to only buy the things you really need.
2. Thrift shops
Thrift shops are the best place to start. The world already has enough clothes, and the best you can do for the environment is to buy used items. Thrift shops are wonderful places where you can find clothes from various decades and from known brands. The best part is that they’re affordable, and you can find everything from shoes to accessories in them. Search for your local thrift shops or check the ones available online, such as Thrifted.
3. Clothes swapping
Clothes swapping is another great option and usually completely free. This is something you can do with friends or cousins on a Saturday afternoon, or you can attend a clothes swapping event. You can also use various apps and websites or visit a swap shop.
4. Buy from ethical and sustainable clothing brands
When you decide to buy new clothes, go for ethical and sustainable brands, such as Thought, People Tree, Boden, Nancy Dee or Nomads. If you’re looking for shoes, you should check Beyond Skin, B_Boheme, Renew, Gather&See or Green Shoes. The most important clothing for the summer is naturally swimwear, so you might want to check out Stay Wild Swim, Kiniki, To Dive For, Kiss Me Deadly or Samantha Sage. For jewellery, have a look at Catbird, and for bags at BOTTLETOP and So Fair So Good.