Nowadays, with information available at our fingertips and social media having a predominant influence on our lives, it seems that fashion trends come and go faster than ever. Social media sites such as Instagram and TikTok are constantly showcasing new trends and clothes that you to have to buy in order to feel included, bringing our sense of self-esteem to depend on fleeting trends and beauty standards. In addition to putting unfair and unhealthy pressure on young people seeking acceptance, it also results in massive and harmful consumption of fast fashion.
What is Fast Fashion?
Fast fashion refers to those quick and easy retailers that produce clothes quickly, where you can quickly get on-trend, often lower-quality pieces at low prices. It’s a popular option in this social climate of ever-changing styles, with convenience and affordability appealing to the consumer. But behind that, fast fashion is really damaging in various ways.
First, fast fashion is very damaging to the environment, which is a significant concern given the current climate crisis. Fast fashion relies on trend cycles; the clothes are produced on a large scale to quickly reach the customer, who aims to remain “in fashion”. This process damages the environment itself – did you know that fashion production is responsible for 10% of human carbon emissions? That it takes 2,700 liters of water to produce the cotton needed to make a single t-shirt? These ever-changing cycles also lead to throwing away clothes on a large scale, resulting in landfill buildups and excessive waste.
Besides the environmental consequences, fast fashion also leads to poor working conditions in factories and sweatshops. These retailers rely on things like child labor and force workers to work in dangerous and inhumane conditions while paying them incredibly low wages.
Thus, fast fashion is both an environmental and humanitarian issue, making its popularity an ethical disaster. Although the importance of the fast fashion industry in our lives makes it hard to give it up completely, limiting your consumption of fast fashion can help improve the situation.
1. Invest in quality parts
One of the problems with fast fashion is that clothes are constantly thrown away as they go out of style or fall apart due to poor quality, resulting in buildup that is harmful to the planet. That’s why it’s important to invest in timeless, good-quality pieces that you can wear for years to come. This could include things like a plain white t-shirt, a nice winter coat, or a good pair of jeans, – just about any piece that you know you’ll get meaningful use out of and won’t go out of style. not quickly.
To help you decide what to invest in, you should think about the cost per wear of the item you are considering buying, which follows the idea that the value of the item depends on how much you wear it. This can be done by dividing the cost of the item by the number of times you realistically think you will wear it. For example, suppose you want to buy a winter coat that costs £40. If you’re going to be wearing it for, say, at least 40 days in the winter, then the low CPW suggests it’s a worthwhile investment. But if you’re only wearing the item twice, then that £20 CPW probably indicates it’s not worth spending.
However, don’t let CPW trick you into buying cheaper items that you’ll use less. Instead, let it guide your investments to ensure you’re spending your hard-earned money wisely and ethically. For example, your CPW on a basic item like a good pair of sneakers will probably be very low if you wear them all the time, so you can invest more money in that item, and in return you should improve yourself products of quality that will last you for years. And if you choose truly timeless items, you’ll want to wear them for years too!
There are many sustainable brands that offer good quality clothing that is ethically produced and environmentally friendly. However, it should be kept in mind that these brands tend to have much higher prices and not everyone can afford them. Fast fashion and the sustainable clothing movement is all about class, and it must be remembered that many people simply cannot afford to spend hundreds on their clothes; what we buy depends on our means.
2. Buy used
Buying second-hand items can be a great way to limit your consumption of fast fashion, especially if you’re constantly on the lookout for new pieces, and you’re particularly happy with a bargain. In the UK our charity shops can sometimes be a little disappointing when it comes to finding trendy or youthful items, but don’t be discouraged – with a little effort you can often find a good buy . Plus, it’s not the only way to buy pre-loved clothes you really want to wear.
Sites like Depop and eBay let you buy clothes online, as well as sell your own. This means that not only can you make a profit and get your hands on some great pieces, but you also prevent unwanted clothes from ending up in landfills where they will harm the environment. While some sellers significantly overcharge items, if you look closely, you’ll likely find outright theft. You can also find one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, which means limiting your consumption of fast fashion can actually be a crucial step in developing your own sense of style.
Some places also hold events called kilo sales, which allow you to get vintage and second-hand clothes at very low prices. Most of the ones I went to also charged around £15 per kilo, a bargain considering you can get quality vintage pieces without contributing to environmental degradation – you can stuff bags clothes until your heart is happy (or, let’s be honest, until you run out of money!).
3. Recycle your old clothes
Rather than just throwing away old pieces that you don’t use much anymore, think of ways to give these items new life. It can be something as simple as cutting a shapeless old pair of jeans into shorts, or an old boxy t-shirt into a crop top, refreshing the items and making you want to wear them more.
If you have sewing skills, you can get so creative with your old pieces, updating them to match your current tastes. Social media sites such as YouTube and Instagram are full of inspiration and tutorials for this.
However. If you’re not so good with textiles, there are plenty of other ways to customize clothing. You can get some fabric paint and decorate that old denim jacket, or cover your unworn clothes with iron-on patches you can buy from sites like Etsy (and you’ll be supporting a small business at the same time, so eventually its a win-win situation). Get creative with this!
4. Swap clothes with friends and family
A simple and inexpensive way to keep your wardrobe up to date and in line with your personal style is to swap clothes with family and friends. It could be swapping t-shirts with a friend or raiding your mother’s wardrobe – anything to use up old clothes that someone around you no longer wants. It’s a great solution for fast fashion – you feel like you’ve got a new item, BUT it’s free and eco-friendly.
If you research based on your location, there are stores/organizations near you that may host clothing swap events. You could even organize one yourself, for example, at your school or college. This way you can raise awareness about fast fashion and give people the opportunity to “shop” in an eco-friendly way.
5. Donate or resell old clothes
Of course, it’s unlikely you’ll ever buy new clothes from fast fashion retailers again, which is completely understandable – taking small steps to limit your fast fashion consumption is much more realistic and makes behaviors much easier to maintain. One way to make this practice more ethical is to donate or resell your old clothes once you no longer want them, as this will ensure the items go to a loving home and maximize their value.
Donating your clothes to a charity shop or thrift store is a great way to prevent your clothes from simply being thrown away to contribute to the massive buildup of landfills – you can clean and dispose of unwanted items ethically, while that the store can generate profit. for good charity.
Also, if you are short on cash and looking for some form of income, you can also resell your old clothes as long as they are in good condition. Platforms such as eBay and Depop are ideal for this purpose.
6. Do your research
It’s going to be hard to limit your consumption of fast fashion if you don’t know where to start – you may have decided to shop more consciously, but where can you buy your clothes now? If you use social media to explore your options, you may find useful information that can help you. Many influencers will have ethical journeys on YouTube or promote sustainable brands on their Instagram feeds.
Alternatively, you can use these sites to explore ways to style items – you can learn how to style your most basic pieces in different ways, or rediscover a lost treasure buried deep within your wardrobe. If you can get more looks out of the clothes you own, you’ll be less inclined to buy more stuff, which will help slow the fast fashion cycle in the long run.