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How My Passion for Sustainable Fashion Started

It’s March 2022, and the weather’s surprisingly been getting colder and windier. It’s that time of year when I like to layer up, hibernate in my Marks and Sparks winter scarf, and will usually keep my style warm, cosy, and casual. Today, I am currently wearing my mesh neutral top from Asos in a paisley pattern, along with a pair of comfy H&M cream lounge trousers and my favourite Matcha Veja trainers. There is no doubt in my mind that I won’t continue to wear this outfit numerous times, as I tend to buy items that I can switch around with each outfit, adapting to the change in seasons.

When looking at the clothes in my wardrobe, I notice that my best loved outfits are from Motel Rocks, Shop Cider, and I Saw It First, which are all popular online fast fashion stores. Every girl my age wears them, influenced by the online ads constantly promoting new clothes. I must admit, ordering outfits at the click of a button is perfect for an on-the-go university student like me. Who doesn’t want something delivered to your door ASAP with next day delivery? It’s ideal. Take my advice - if you’re going out on a Saturday night for drinks with the girls, those multiple dress options you ordered last minute will be there in no time.

I try and draw my style a lot from celebrities such as Zoe Kravitz, Alexa Demie and 90’s fashion icons because they have the best street style. I find street style fun and creative because everyone express themselves in their own organic way. For me and many others, clothes are an art form. I’m not sure where my love for style started, as I’ve chosen my own outfits since I was three or four. A choice my mum supported but, at times probably regretted. The neon legwarmer trend when I was 9 is not a look now, naturally, as much as it was then. So, you can image how surprised I was when pop star Dua Lipa and her dancers emulated this 80’s neon Madonna trend in her latest music video, an example that trends in fashion constantly resurface, no matter how risky.

Later when I was growing up, The Devil Wears Prada was a major influence. In the opening scene the song ‘Suddenly I see’ played in the background as Anne Hathaway got ready for her interview at Runway Magazine. Realistic or not, after that I knew I wanted to be in the fashion industry (regardless of Meryl Streep’s formidable performance as editor-in-chief).

My passion for sustainable fashion started when I saw a grim article one morning. The online image displayed a never-ending pile of discarded clothes, which appeared as large hills of fast fashion waste in the Atacama Desert in Chile. Unworn and dumped, a total of 39,000 tons of clothes were cast aside. For the next two hundred years the clothing will remain. The effects of this will be more toxic than plastic! Although we won’t be here in two hundred years’ time, our great-great-great grandchildren will, accompanied by these piles of clothes. Who wants that on their conscience?

That very same night, I had a nightmare that I was doing the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award again. But this time, I was wobbling on top of Scafell pike which was purely made up of clothes. I asked myself, why are my unworn clothes destroying the earth, and what can I do about it?

To start, I decided to investigate my wardrobe again - something you should do too. I must admit, I was no longer thrilled with what I saw the second time round. At least seventy percent of all my outfits gave me flashing red warning signs regarding sustainable fashion. (I’m sure you'll be shocked at some of the fast-fashion brands hanging on your coat hangers as well.) It’s safe to say I never noticed how much I owned, particularly from the brands I gravitate towards during my weekly online shopping sprees (you know we all do it).

Three out of four brands I mentioned when I was describing my outfit at the start, including H&M and M&S, are extremely popular high street shops yet aren’t completely sustainable, making me question why they're so widely consumed?

That night, I took the clothes I didn’t want out of my wardrobe, deciding to donate to charity or put them on Depop. The piles of clothes, like tiny mountains of waste, reminded me of the images on Instagram. However, It made me feel better, knowing I was recycling unworn items. I gave away jeans, shoes, and some tops I no longer wore. It was hard work don’t get me wrong. Decluttering items you once loved but no longer wear is a hard task for anyone, especially a renowned shopaholic like me. But it was SO worth it.

If you can do the same, think of the important work you’ll be putting in to help save our planet!

After seeing those images, I Immediately decided to change my attitude towards where I shop and sought out a capsule wardrobe. I noticed that substituting items for a minimal colour palette of blacks, whites and creams meant I could interchange the garments I owned in any look. It also meant I could cut down my wardrobe to the basics. Afterwards, I researched more ways of being kinder to our planet and this is what I found...

Many websites told me that to become part of the sustainable fashion movement, all you have to do is encourage change within the fashion system. Sounds pretty easy, right? In turn, this moves society towards greater ecological integrity and social justice.

But how do we achieve this?

If you think about it, fashion products are readily available for everyone to purchase on the high street. However, the initial incentive to buy cheaper clothing is premature. To reduce the problem, try buying fewer items each time you go shopping. It's as simple as that! Another way to help is to fix the clothes you already own but can't wear anymore. (I did this last week with a pair of Cherry red Doc Martens.) Now they're in perfect condition and I can wear them whenever I want!

I hope these baby steps help you to combat the large carbon footprint the fashion industry has created, saving you money in the process. A win-win situation! If we all do our little bit to help, think of what we could achieve together. To find out more, click the link here to discover more Sustainability articles on Mindless Mag.


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