Understand the problems that come with fast-fashion, but don't know where to begin? Here are some simple steps to get you started!
1. Love what you already own
A good piece of advice: “using what you have is the most sustainable option.”
You are excited to fight against travesties like human-trafficking and poverty, yes! But, let's try not to add to the growing issue of waste while we're at it. Many times what we throw, or even donate, ends up in a growing pile of textile waste in developing countries.
Let's be resourceful and creative! Take out your sewing needle and thread and patch up those holes, pair existing items with fun new finds, wash less and be gentle, find a fun bleach or embroidery DIY to add a little funk to old pieces.
The options are endless!
2. Mindset Shift
Slow-fashion seems counter cultural to the fast paced world we live in today, but it doesn't have to stay that way!
Getting out of this "fast" mentality and slowing down helps us put an end to the concept of "disposability". Often, the things we buy to accommodate the busy bustle of our lives are not made well, thus breaking down quickly.
Changing our mindset to see clothing as items that are meant to be cherished and long-lasting vs disposable may be difficult at first (those pesky neural pathways!), but in the long run incredibly rewarding.
Start slow. Ask yourself simple questions such as "how long will this last?" or "will this break down easily?." Other helpful questions are "who made what I'm about to purchase?" and "are they being treated well? getting paid fairly?"
If you can't find a way to slow down your life, we get it. Sometimes things are out of our control! Instead, try planning ahead or finding ethical options online so you can buy responsible before you get into your hectic day!
3. Buy with Intention
"That cocktail dress is SO cute and it's on sale!!!!" That's wonderful, but if you have no occasion to wear said cocktail dress maybe leave that out of your cart.
You live in a warm climate and wouldn't dare travel to the cold? Remove the down jacket from your wish list.
Everyone has those items in the back of their closet they have never worn once, so let's try to mitigate that. Buy things you know beyond a shadow of a doubt you'll wear! And wear them over and over and over..... and over ;) again.
4. Thrift It
Although many pieces you find in thrift stores are made by fast-fashion brands, by buying secondhand you are not supporting the brand or their poor practices.
You are actually, in essence, recycling! Finding old treasure gives them a second life and keeps them out of landfills. Win, win!
5. Beware of Greenwashing
The mainstream is quickly taking on the narrative of ethical fashion and sustainable living. Great! Or is it?
Many brands will go to extreme lengths to fool you into thinking they are ethical when they are, in fact, not even in the ball park.
Check into where you're shopping. Be diligent.
Sometimes by sending a simple email asking who makes their items, what manufacturer's they work with or if they have any fair-trade certifications can reveal a lot!
6. Trends Be Gone!
'Trend' comes from the Proto-Germanic word 'trandijan' meaning 'turn or revolve'.
Words speak a thousand pictures...er wait, did I get that right? But for real, as you think about the revolving door and turnover in the fashion industry a picture quickly forms of long hours, poor working environments and disgustingly low pay.
To combat this, we need to get out of the circle of "trendy" and onto the path of timeless, well-made and long-lasting.
7. Set Realistic Goals
Look at your life and understand the capacity you have. Not everyone is at the same spot and that's okay!
One small step at a time does change the big picture.
If you want to buy ethically, but can't afford brand new, start with thrifting. You may not feel you're doing a lot, but it actually makes a HUGE difference.
If buying entirely ethical seems daunting, start with one thing at a time and slowly (we like that word around here) building up.
If you're life is hectic and convenience is key, there are many ethical/sustainable brands online and have subscription options so you can set it and it will arrived on schedule.
8. Show Grace
Both to yourself and to others. We are all learning together- what you know I may not and what I know you may not.
Understand you won't have all the answers but can stay open to listening and learning.
We can each contribute what we have and what we know to changing the lives of those who are at-risk all around the globe by leaning on each other and standing up for the vulnerable!