Do you love clothes shopping and also love protecting the environment? Then learning about ‘fast fashion” and making some adjustments to your purchasing habits is a great way to take another step towards a sustainable lifestyle.

It might be challenging at first to walk away from those tempting inexpensive prices, but learning about just how destructive those cheap clothes are to your health and the world will help you make sustainable and ethical choices in the “slow fashion” world. Outlined below, we’ll explain what fast fashion is, why it is SO damaging to the planet, and alternatives to keep your style fashionable and your conscious clear. 

What Is Fast Fashion 

  • Fashion that is manufactured using cheap materials like polyester. 
  • Clothing that is rapidly produced to stay up to date with the latest trends.
  • Clothing made by people who are not being paid or treated fairly.

So what can we buy instead of fast fashion? And how do we stop supporting these fast-fashion retailers that are polluting the earth and aren’t ethical? These easy tips will help you out!

Step #1 To Quitting Fast Fashion

Nail down what is motivating you to make this change. Once you feel concrete in your convictions, it will be easier to stay motivated and walk away from fast fashion.

  1. Do you want to help the environment? 
  2. Do you want clothes that last longer?
  3. Do you want ethical fashion made with sustainable materials?
  4. Do you care about the people who are making your clothes and want to support better wages and fair treatment?
  5. Do you want to save money? 

Understand The Industry

Educating yourself on the drawbacks and impacts that quick fashion has on the environment is another key step in making the change for good to slow fashion. This summary of data points showing you how unsustainable the fashion industry is will enlighten you and help you fight fast fashion.

  • Fast fashion is responsible for 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions.
  • Many fast fashion brands use child labor, have awful working conditions, and do not pay fair wages.
  • 85% of textiles just end up in landfills.
  • Over 30% of the microplastics in the ocean come from synthetic fabrics.  These plastic microfibers leach into the ground and waterways, causing pollution and risk being consumed by wildlife and marine life.
  • Textile dyes are huge water polluters as that water is dumped into streams and rivers.
  • Fast fashion is the cause of 20% of water pollution worldwide.
  • It takes hundreds of gallons of water to produce just one cotton shirt and even more for a pair of jeans.
  • Washing synthetic cheap clothes releases 50 billion plastic bottles worth of microfibers into the ocean each year.

Understand You Get What You Pay For

Just like fast food, the upfront cost of fast fashion is incredibly cheap but the backend costs end up losing you money in the long run. 

  • These clothes are cheaply made and won’t last long.
  • Do you want a shirt that will last for or one that will last for years?
  • Just like with organic food, it costs more upfront but saves you health issues that are most costly down the road.
  • With conscious fashion, you spend more money in the moment but gain an item that will last you years.

Stop Shopping At Cheap Fashion Stores

How to stop wearing fast fashion? Stop buying it. That means staying away from the marketplaces that carry these cheap clothes so you won’t be tempted. Some popular ones to stay away from include:

  • Fashion Nova
  • Forever 21
  • Nasty Gal
  • Target
  • Urban Outfitters
  • Wal-Mart
  • Wish
  • Zara
  • Zafu

TIP: Remember is if it’s cheap and it’s not on sale, it’s fast fashion.

Buy Less Clothing

For some people, this might be more difficult than for others, and it will take looking at your buying habits and why you choose to purchase so many clothes. It might mean changing the basis of your wardrobe to be less ‘trendy’ and instead choosing to set a foundation of your personal fashion with foundational pieces that you can accent on for years to come.

  1. Slow down; buy less clothing in general. Simply shop less.
  2. Look into a “capsule wardrobe” which includes a few of each type of item (shirts, sweaters, shorts, pants, etc.) that are high in quality and can mix and match so you get multiple outfits.
  3. When picking out a new (or gently used) article, make sure that it will match MULTIPLE items.
  4. It’s about becoming a conscious consumer in regards to your clothing.
  5. Bonus: It will be a lot easier to put your outfits together.

Shop Secondhand

Still want to shop for inexpensive clothes every season (or when you just need some retail therapy)? Learn to love the secondhand markets. There are enough pairs of jeans, t-shirts, and dresses in circulation that you would never need to buy new again at the same time being satisfied with new looks year after year after year.

  • Thrifting clothes is one of the easiest ways to quit fast fashion.
  • Thrifting is one of the easiest ways to practice slow fashion and the best alternative to fast fashion.
  • You still get the thrill of a good deal.
  • It’s extremely environmentally friendly. 
  • And it keeps clothes out of landfills.

There are even secondhand and thrifting websites these days such as Poshmark. Tips: search for clothing by using the categories filter in your price point. When you find something you like, check out the seller’s closet and filter by your size, available, and sort by price. Buy various items from one Posher to save on shipping costs.

Wear What You Already Own

Go through your closet to see if there are any old clothes that you have forgotten about  and rotate them into your outfits.

  • Note things you NEVER wear and sell, swap, or donate them.

Sell Unwanted Items

Tossing any clothing into the trash should be the very last option on your list. Items you no longer want can go to good use, either by putting some cash in your wallet or by keeping them in circulation for others to benefit from.

  • The fast-fashion option would be to throw your unworn clothing away. 
  • Instead, sell items that are still in good shape at your local buy and sell Facebook groups
  • Or to a secondhand site like Poshmark.

Host Or Attend A Clothing Swap

You and your friends might have been doing this for years in an off-hand way, sharing clothes or giving each other hand-me-downs. Having an official clothing swap is a great way to get a new wardrobe for FREE.

  • Invite friends and their friends to a meeting place to exchange clothes with each other.
  • Can be held outside in a park, in your backyard, or yoga studio floor for example.
  • Everyone brings a bag of clothes they no longer want.
  • Sort into categories (all shirts, all dresses, all shorts etc. in separate piles).
  • Some groups charge a $5 to $10 fee to help the organizers or the space.
  • Anything leftover is donated to women’s or homeless shelters.

Treat With Care

An extremely important part of having sustainable clothes is to ensure you take care of everything you own. Ruining a slow piece of clothing with improper washing practices will quickly turn it into a fast one.

  • Read washing instructions and follow them.

Why Buy Slow Fashion

Slow fashion garments are made with earth-friendly and innovative materials, with fair labor practices, and fewer greenhouse emissions. 

  • Subscribe to sustainable brands’ emails, follow their social media, and stay updated on their sales. Everybody loves a great deal.
  • Having more brands practice sustainability in regards to their fashion lines is the only way to end fast fashion once and for all. 
  • Supporting sustainable fashion brands with your dollars shows manufacturers that eco-friendly clothing is wanted. 
  • This will encourage other clothing producers to follow.

Slow Fashion, Organic, and Sustainably Sourced Clothing Shopping Options 

This list was first summarized by Mindful Of The Home

Girlfriend Collective – makes clothing from plastic water bottles and leftover fabric scraps, ethically and sustainably, all while at an affordable price.

Mother Erth – is a slow fashion brand that creates handwoven bags made from plastic before it reaches the ocean. Their zero-waste bags are handmade by artisans and each handbag, purse or tote is individually unique.

Nudie Jeans – offer high-quality jeans that will last a lifetime. This Swedish denim company practices sustainability with organic cotton, no synthetic chemicals, efficient water usage in the farming process, and transparent manufacturing processes. If anything happens to your jeans, you can get them repaired for free.

Organic Basics – is a slow fashion underwear and active-wear brand that uses sustainable materials and also supports ethical practices. They also offset their carbon footprint, meaning investing in projects to bring solar and wind power to developing countries.

Reformation – is a slow fashion brand that creates clothing using a wide range of eco-friendly materials. About 15% of their clothing is made from old vintage clothing that they buy from wholesalers and repurpose into new pieces of clothing, making them even more of an incredible sustainable fashion brand. This ensures that these clothes don’t end up in landfills, thereby reducing textile waste.

Tentree – is easily an industry leader in the sustainable fashion movement because they plant ten trees per product sold which helps create positive change by repopulating forests. Their clothing is also made with natural fibers such as organic cotton and hemp, as well as recycled polyester made from plastic bottles. They are a certified B corporation and also climate-neutral certified.

Thought Clothing – slow fashion brand using sustainable materials, thoughtful shipping practices, and ethical, cruelty-free, and sustainability in all aspects of their business The fabrics for their garments include hemp, organic cotton, bamboo, wool, recycled polyester, rayon (recycled tree pulp) and TENCEL. Their dyes are also eco-friendly. All their suppliers and their supply chains must comply with their environmental standards.

United by Blue – creates clothing using fabrics that are sustainable and eco-conscious like recycled polyester made from discarded water bottles, organic cotton (which means no pesticides), and bison (repurposed materials from the ranching industry.) They also remove one pound of trash from the world’s oceans for every product sold. 

VALANI – all of their clothing fabric is made with hemp, tencel, or banana stems, which means it’s all biodegradable. Additionally, every garment purchased plants a tree and donates 10% of its profits to causes like women’s empowerment programs, animal charities, and environmental initiatives.

WAMA – hemp underwear for both men and women. Hemp is one of the most eco-friendly fabrics with minimal impact on the environment. It’s biodegradable, requires less water, and hemp crops even return nutrients back to the soil. WAMA also promotes ethical and green business practices with the certifications to back them up.

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