HOW TO SHOP SUSTAINABLE FASHION
Posted on July 13 2018
As a newcomer to the sustainable fashion scene, it’s easy to get caught up in a purchasing whirlwind. You’re discovering new brands and feeling excited about purging the fast fashion pieces from your closet.
But don’t forget that consumerism is the biggest threat to the environment. Buying things, even if they’re sustainably made things, is a drain on natural resources. Becoming an eco-friendly fashion consumer is more about changing your mindset than buying from sustainable fashion brands.
So if you really want to make a positive impact on the environment, this is how you should shop sustainable fashion:
1) Buy Less
The most environmentally damaging thing about the fashion industry is the push to sell more clothing. Over the years, brands have come up with a number of clever techniques to entice the consumer to continue buying even after their closets are stuffed to the gills. Regardless of how they achieve it, when fast fashion brands tempt you to buy more clothing each year, more stress is put on the environment. Natural resources are consumed to make textiles, and greenhouse gases are emitted during factory production and transportation. At the end of our clothing’s life cycle, much of it ends up in the dump where it can sit around for decades or longer.
2) Buy More Mindfully
Regardless of how tight your minimalist wardrobe game is, you are going to inevitably need to add to your closet. Clothing wears out, our bodies change shape, and our tastes evolve. While perhaps the most truly eco-friendly fashion is what you’d find at a nudist colony, you don’t have to walk around naked to be a friend to the environment. You just need to make conscious, mindful purchasing decisions. If you can fill your closet purposefully with pieces that you love to wear, you’ll be much more likely to hold on to them for years. And if you’re getting great use out of what’s already in your closet, you won’t be tempted to continue buying more clothing. The ultimate sustainable wardrobe is one that that isn’t based on consumerism.
3) Buy Second-hand
There are enough textiles already in circulation today to clothe you for the rest of your life. Every year, hundreds of millions of pounds of clothing are donated to resale shops – more than can ever be resold. A lot of these clothes get recycled into industrial rags, sent overseas to developing nations, and some ultimately end up in landfills.
With every piece you buy secondhand, the demand for the production of brand new clothing decreases. And that saves energy and water resources that would be used for manufacturing. It also decreases pollution that would be emitted during factory production and transportation. Next to buying nothing, buying secondhand is the most environmentally friendly way to shop.
4) Buy Better
Over the past 50 years, fast fashion has changed our expectations about our clothing. The cost of clothing has plummeted. And with it, quality has also hit rock bottom. Clothing has become a disposable commodity – it’s cheaply made from inexpensive materials, and it’s not expected to last more than a year or so. If your favorite shirt gets a tear in it, it’s easier and cheaper to get rid of it and buy a brand new one. This is great for fast fashion brands because they can increase the amount of product they sell. But it’s horrible for the environment. A defining principle of sustainable fashion is to buy high quality items that will serve you for years. Instead of buying a new trendy piece every season, a more eco-friendly option is to buy one well-made, classic piece.
Becoming an eco-friendly fashion consumer is more about changing your mindset and less about buying from sustainable fashion brands. Consumerism has led us to this environmental precipice, and consumerism – even if it is in support of eco-friendly companies – will not get us off of it. Commit to buying less, buying more mindfully, buying better quality, buying secondhand and buying more time for your current wardrobe.