How to Avoid Fast Fashion & Create a More Ethical Wardrobe

A guide on the ways to avoid fast fashion, build your wardrobe more ethically, and choose manufacturers and seller more sustainably.

By Adriana Lopez

women sitting on chair in vintage clothing store, key to Avoid Fast Fashion

Isn’t it exciting when you get to buy stylish clothes at an affordable price? It is to most consumers. But what happens when it can have negative impacts on our environment.

This phenomenon is known as fast fashion. What this industry offers is low prices on clothing, but it actually comes at a hidden cost. People tend to think they need more clothes than they really do.

This is due to the rising popularity of fashion related to social media, not to mention the rise of population around the world. People consume more clothing today than they did 20 years ago. The third biggest manufacturing industry in the world is clothing.

Also, fashion is responsible for five percent of the world’s gas emissions, that produces 1.2 billion tons of CO2 per year. If you want to learn, help and consume in a better and more responsible way, trying to avoid fast fashion buying more sustainable clothing, this is what you need to read!

What is Fast Fashion?

third world clothing workshop

Let’s begin with this terminology… what is Fast Fashion? The term fast fashion refers to an industry that mass produces clothing, also shoes, and accessories that are all based on the latest trends.

They are available at a low cost, but most of these products aren’t made of the highest quality. When it comes to fashion and trends that come and go easily, when people buy fast fashion items they wear them short-term, and then dispose them. In different perspectives, it has dangerous impacts and repercussions on our environment. Important to point out “our” environment.

The effects of the Fast Fashion Industry on the environment: This clothing is made at large manufacturing plants. For that they need to use a massive amount of energy and natural resources. Chemicals are also used when it dyes so manufacturing contaminates the soil and nearby waterways. In general, the industry produces a tenth of the world’s total carbon emissions.

That is a lot! When jeans are produced, they require several thousand gallons of water, making it wasteful. On top of that, this clothing is “disposable,” so it will end up in a landfill contributing to pollution. Americans throw away approximately 80 pounds of clothing every year. But thankfully, there are some things you can do for you to help and reduce your consumption and carbon footprint.

What is Ethical and Sustainable Fashion?

neutral coloured vintage clothing

This kind of fashion uses materials that are made and marketed in a responsible way. It means that it takes its environmental and socioeconomic impacts into account. Sustainable fashion is performed across a garment’s entire life cycle from manufacture process to its disposal. It has a smaller carbon footprint so it pays attention to the ethical aspects too, by paying a living wage and work in safe environments to people that work for these companies. These are some of the are examples of sustainable and ethical fashion.

Slow Fashion: It is the exact opposite of fast fashion. These brands have an understanding and approach to fashion to take manufacturing process and resources into consideration when making clothing. The industry holds a high value on how fair treatment is a must when comes to people, animals, and the environment. They also focus on making fewer pieces but higher-quality items, for them to last longer avoiding ending in a landfill.

Circular Fashion: This industry, their materials and production are well thought out. The company looks deeper at how each item should be used in a more sustainable way. From the way it is manufactured to their disposal. But also takes things a step further! They design out waste and pollution and use recyclable or biodegradable materials. Some companies also make repurposed items out of old product. This ensures these items to remain in the life cycle of clothing than going to a landfill.

Vegan Fashion: This responsible fashion produces clothing and accessories without animal-derived materials. Anything from leather or fur, silk, feathers, wool, or angora should be avoided. Eco-friendly and recyclable materials are the often used to make vegan fashion. When you buy them, just make sure that they are still produced in a sustainable manner.

How can you make a change?

LESS written on store window

Congratulations! You have got to the level on how can you can do some things to develop a more sustainable wardrobe, including:

  • Find out where your clothes come from: The source of your clothing. Determine that and also where it’s made, the type of materials are used, the company’s manufacturing process, if it is possible. Knowing the source could be the first step toward making better purchasing choices.
  • Analyze the brands you buy: Take a closer look at your favorite brands. Find out where their clothes are made. It would be good to know if they are exploiting workers. We need to avoid that. What about wasteful or recyclable materials? How much does their clothing contaminate the environment? Learning more about the clothes you love, makes you have smarter choices for the future using eco-friendly brands.
  • Make smart choices: Reduce your consumption of clothing by wear what you already have as much as possible, before buying something new. That way you reduce consumption of clothes in a way. Recycle your old clothing , so it doesn’t end up in a landfill. You can repair ripped or torn clothing before you throw it out. Resell clothing you no longer want or need so that way other people can enjoy wearing it. Donate clothing! To charities or people you know they need them.

Buying sustainable clothing and reducing your fashion carbon footprint

So, how can you reduce your carbon footprint? Here are few ways to help you:

  • Know what to look for in a brand: You can look on how manufacturing processes are best. Which brands offer items made of sustainable materials, and which ones are really trying to help the environment. Programs where you can return used clothes for a store credit or ensure, are being offered by some brands. They will go back into the production cycle in order to avoid trash.
  • Avoid greenwashing: This term refers to those companies that claim to be eco-friendly but they’re actually NOT following the proper processes. Brands must be open and honest, offering a real sustainability and their reports to consumers. When a brand uses eco-friendly packaging but their clothing is still not sustainable, that’s also greenwashing. Luxury brands could be guilty as well. An example of this, several years ago, was when the designer Burberry burned unused clothing, bags, and cosmetics instead of selling them at a discount or just donate them. Use these following websites to help you find legitimate and transparency: Environmental Working Group, Rank a Brand, and the Fashion Transparency Index.
  • Choose eco-friendly fashion materials: Looking for products that are made with eco-friendly fabrics and other materials is an excellent idea and starter. Things like linen, organic cotton, hemp and dyes made of squid ink are just some examples.

Eco clothing buying guide and tips

vintage clothes hanging in white room with indoor plants

You can keep these clothes buying and eco-fashion tips in mind for you when shopping for a new wardrobe.

  • Capsule Wardrobe: A capsule wardrobe to mix and match to create different looks, include versatile, limited items of clothing. Doing this is a great way to reduce your consumption. This will also help you to get the most use out of the clothes you already have in your closet.
  • Buy durable clothing; Yes, you need to Invest, but for more durable, high-quality clothing that will last. Probably, It may cost more upfront, but you will sure get a lot more use and enjoyment out of the items.
  • Purchase second-hand clothing: Thrift stores, or vintage clothing stores, and also garage sales, look for them to get new clothes. You could find unique pieces at a low price without buying something new.
  • Discover sustainable clothing brands: Look out for eco-friendly, sustainable clothing brands. Such as Girlfriend Collective, Patagonia, and Cotopaxi, just to name a few. Over time, you will become an expert on how to spot authentic sustainable brands versus those that are greenwashing.
  • Make your own clothes: Learn how to knit and sew is proven to be an amazing therapy and relaxation hobby, not to mention that you can make your own clothes. Take older pieces and turn them into something unique and new.
  • Care for your clothes: The proper care of the clothing you already have, learning how to wash and clean different fabrics the right way and how to find some quality, eco-friendly detergents. Wash your clothes less often and use the cold cycle, and air dry them on a clothesline or rack whenever possible also using eco-friendly cleaners. This will extend the life of your clothes, and reduce your carbon footprint, too.
  • Only buy clothes that spark joy: Just as Marie Kondo advices, you should only have items that “spark joy.” Avoid the impulse of just purchasing and instead, invest your money into pieces that you absolutely love and that you’ll wear for a long time.

Is Eco-Fashion only for the rich?

Most people think that buying eco-fashion is just for the rich, but there are ways to find eco-friendly clothes at an affordable price.

How expensive are eco clothes?

Many sustainable brands do charge a higher price because they produce less clothing. Others, smaller operations. It may cost more in general to produce eco-friendly products. Some eco-fashion brands are high-end, but others offer their products to consumers at prices that are closely in line with less sustainable competitors. You can also find second-hand Eco clothes to get them at a lower price. Check out Shop sale events! Look for discount codes to get eco-friendly clothes for less.

Why are they worth it?

Even when this clothing may cost more, it lasts longer. Meaning that you’re getting more for your money. The cost is actually reduced if you compare it to the number of times you wear it. It may cost more but this is because the company is paying a living wage. If you’re concerned and empathic about the ethics of fast fashion, then paying more money is worth it!

This ensure that workers are getting paid a reasonable salary. The cost of sustainable materials are higher, but these materials are produced in smaller batches. It requires more work to make. But above all, the price is a small one to pay when you’re really concerned about the harmful effects of fast fashion.

Final Thoughts on How to Avoid Fast Fashion

We really need to look at all the items we buy and realize that we cause more damage than we realize! This is the first step to make a positive change. Learn about the harmful effects of fast fashion. Get to know what to look for. How about to start to make smarter purchasing decisions? You could start a capsule wardrobe, look for secondhand clothing. Buy products from truly sustainable brands, and can make a difference. So this way, we can actually talk about moving together to a sustainable lifestyle!

Originally posted on Porch.com

signs on vintage furniture: less new = less co2

“Cheap prices make us believe they bring about savings for consumers. This may appear true in the short term, with a narrow focus and looking just at the money in our wallets, but all of us, as global citizens, will ultimately end up paying the external cost, the true cost for the unsustainable consumption and production of cheap clothing.” – Fashion Revolution