Over the past couple of years, the dangers of fast fashion have been made clear. From water pollution and heavy use of fossil fuels to enormous fabric waste, it became clear that something had to change. With fashion being a passion for many people, the clothing world began to adapt, and we saw the rise of sustainable fashion brands. These alternatives allowed customers to still get that feeling of excitement and enjoyment from new clothes, but in a way that will not cause harm to the environment.
Unfortunately, sustainability tends to come at a higher price point, excluding those who cannot afford it but want to contribute to sustainable fashion. I am a student and buying from sustainable fashion companies rarely fits in my budget. However, I have found ways to incorporate sustainability into my fashion choices that won’t break the bank. It is important to state now that my wardrobe is nowhere near 100% sustainable, and achieving complete sustainability feels very difficult. Although, the choices I make now are far more sustainable than they were 3 years ago. With this in mind, here are the changes I made to make more sustainable choices!
One of the biggest changes I made was looking on second-hand clothing websites before purchasing something from a big brand. Like many people, I enjoy scrolling through the ‘new-in’ section on clothing websites, it is exciting because there are new items every day and it is very easily accessible. In the past, I would see a top I liked and buy it on the spot. Now, I like to shop around on Vinted and Depop for the same item. What I mean by this is, that if I see a top I like on a big fast fashion website, I type the description of the item into a second-hand clothing app. Normally, the exact item is there. Or if not the exact same, some very similar alternatives. The reason this works is because fashion tends to run in a cycle. Think about how fast fashion brands have recently been promoting low-rise trousers and skirts, despite the last time this being popular was in the 90s and early 2000s. Clothes were not mass-produced 20 years ago either, so the product will probably be better quality too! You might be thinking “But it takes so much longer to search second-hand websites”. Yes, this is true, however, because you really have to search for the item, it’ll make you consider whether you truly want it. This change has saved me a lot of money and has really made me think before aimlessly buying items as soon as I see them!
The second change I made was really to do with my mindset. I have started to only buy something if I can see myself wearing it for the next 5 years. Like my previous point, being flooded with the ‘new-in’ section is exciting and you might think an item will be “Perfect for summer”. However, summer is only 6 weeks. When am I going to wear it in the other 46 weeks of the year? By next summer, am I still going to want to wear it? Adapting my mindset has not been easy and I have been guilty of purchasing dresses because I think they’ll be ideal for a holiday. Importantly, changes do not happen overnight, but by asking myself these questions, I have really noticed a reduction in my fashion consumption.
The reason it can be hard to have a sustainable mindset is because of the never-ending micro-trends. By this, I am referring to a fashion item that is incredibly popular one minute and before you know it, no one wears it anymore because the next trend has come along. Some examples from the last year would be marble print and fluffy handbags. Buying clothes to only wear for a short amount of time massively increases fabric waste and becomes very expensive for the consumer. With this in mind, next time, asking yourself how much you are going to wear an item can help to decipher whether you should buy it.
Deleting Fast Fashion Apps
My final piece of advice would be to delete fast fashion apps from your phone. When a whole new wardrobe is a few clicks away, it increases your chances of being lured in and buying items for the sake of it. Deleting shopping apps almost adds a sense of mindfulness to your shopping experience. Now, if you want to buy something, you have to consciously download the app and log in before you can even look at what is on offer. Having to process what I am doing when I want to buy something new has really helped me to stop shopping out of boredom and think about why I am purchasing an item.
It goes without saying, it is hard to always shop sustainably. Luckily, there are small things we can do to try and break the habit of buying from fast fashion. It is impossible to have an entirely sustainable wardrobe overnight. However, these tips have helped me to be more mindful about what I am purchasing and ultimately make more sustainable choices.
Olivia Keane 26/05/22