In Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series, I offered background on fast fashion and its impact on people and the planet. Now, in this final post of the blog series, Confessions of an Ex-shopaholic, I will give tips on how to make a conscious shift to sustainable and ethical fashion and break free from the fast fashion mindset.
Here are a few tips on how to make the switch:
1. Go on a shopping cleanse: Try going a few weeks or even months without buying anything new and instead focus on getting use out of what is already in your closet that you may be overlooking. This may sound silly but can be a really difficult task for many. The longer you go without buying a new piece, the sooner you will break your shopping addiction!
2. Rework and refurbish clothes you already have: Have an old shirt with a rip or tear in it? Don’t toss it! Instead, mend it and keep wearing it. Have a shirt with a stain on it? Consider tie dying it to give it a new look and life. Pictured below is a stained and discolored tank top that I gave new life by using Indigo dye (a more natural, non-synthetic dye).
3. Hit that ‘unsubscribe’ button: Unsubscribe from fast fashion brand email lists and unfollow fast fashion brands on Instagram. You could even go as far as unfollowing influencers who constantly promote fast fashion brands on their Instagram platforms. No longer receiving sneaky discount codes or notifications about sales will curb temptation to impulsively buy new clothing. I mean, did you even really care to buy these things in the first place before seeing the colorful, glittery ads blowing up your email inbox and Instagram feed?
4. Do a clothes swap with friends! Do you have a friend or family member that wears the same size as you? Well, do a clothes swap! Switch wardrobes for a few months to change up the clothes you wear, or hand down any unworn clothes to each other.
5. Borrow/rent clothes for special occasions: Need a fun cocktail dress or gown for a special event? Think about borrowing or renting one for the night instead of buying one, since chances are you will only be wearing it once any way!
6. Buy secondhand when possible: If you do feel inclined to buy a new clothing item, try to buy secondhand! My favorite way to do this is by shopping through apps like Depop, Poshmark, Curtsy, Facebook Marketplace, etc. or my local GoodWill, Salvation Army, and vintage/consignment shops. You are sure to find really unique, one-of-a-kind pieces to add to your wardrobe!
7. Support sustainable, ethical brands: Buy from brands that have environmental and social sustainability as their core missions. I like to buy a staple piece from such brands and then style with items I already own or with second hand, thrifted finds. In this way, I can wear this staple with endless clothing combinations and get more for my money. Slow fashion picks tend to be better constructed and more likely to stand the test of time, making them a better value! One of my favorite sustainable and slow fashion brands is The Finiti. The Finiti is female owned and operated by Marina, who makes the tops herself from her home in the U.S. using Tencel. Tencel is a naturally derived fiber, making it biodegradable, and requiring less energy, water, and dye than cotton in the manufacturing process. My most favorite thing about The Finiti is how transparent Marina is about her sourcing, even down to her labels, tags, and packaging. Plus, I love how no mass production practices are used to make her sustainable basics. Not an ad, I am just genuinely a fan, and I got all my readers a discount code!! Use “MEREDITH$5” for $5 off your next purchase :)
Another favorite of mine is For Days. The coolest thing about them is that they are a zero-waste, closed-loop company. 100% of their products are recyclable and they offer a SWAP program. Under this program, you can swap out your old, used For Days items or other unworn clothes from your closet for discounts on new items, and everything sent to them is recycled and upcycled into new material! They further minimize waste with things like reusable packaging and company-wide carbon offsets. Both of these brands are affordable compared to other sustainable labels, meaning you don’t have to compromise your wallet to support an environmentally-conscious company.
What to Look for in Sustainable Brand Alternatives
To give you a better idea of what to look for in determining if a brand is truly a sustainable and ethical alternative to fast fashion brands, here are a few tips:
● Make sure the textiles used to make the clothing are made from recyclable, renewable materials like linen, hemp, Tencel or silk (organic cotton is okay, but is extremely water-intensive to produce).
● Ensure the brand provides transparency on what their products are made from, where they are sourced, how they are manufactured, etc.
● Look for company sustainability commitments that make them go above and beyond (such as sustainable packaging initiatives, carbon offsets, use of renewable energy, etc.) and review their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies.
● Look for sustainability standards and certifications! Just because a company simply states that they are “ethical,” “sustainable,” “eco-friendly,” “cruelty-free,” or “fair trade” does not mean it is the case at all. There are hundreds of certifications you can look for to determine whether their claims are merely marketing (greenwashing rather) or actually a part of their sustainability practices.
I hope that this post gave you a better idea of how to make the switch to supporting more sustainable and ethical fashion, as well as how you can still indulge in your love of fashion without harming the planet, funding unethical practices, or breaking the bank. Above all, I hope that this three-part blog series made you reflect on your personal consumption habits, equipping you with knowledge to become a more educated, ethical, eco-conscious consumer. We must recognize the power we hold as a consumer to make more ethical, eco-conscious choices that change the narrative of the fashion industry to one that is for good, for people and the planet.