Fast fashion is a huge problem. It’s an even bigger issue than the environmental impact of our throwaway culture. The clothing industry is responsible for about 1% of global greenhouse gas emissions and a third of all water use, according to a 2016 report by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). And as the world population grows and more people migrate to cities, the demand for fast-fashion clothing will only increase.
The average American throws away $300 worth of clothes per year, which adds up to an estimated 25 million tons of waste every year. That’s more than five times the weight of Chicago’s Millennium Park or New York City’s Central Park combined!
So how do we address this issue? One way is to reduce our consumption of fast-fashion items in the first place. But if you can’t live without your favorite Cottagecore dress jeans or sweater, here are three sustainable ways you can fight fast fashion at home.
1. Buy Less Stuff
Most of us have been trained since childhood that buying new things makes us happy. We’re told it will make us feel powerful and better able to compete with others. In fact, that’s one reason why companies like Forever 21 and H&M are so successful — they constantly remind us that it’s not enough to just buy their stuff. If you want to save the planet, though, it might be time to try something different.
It’s possible to shop sustainably without giving up on the good life. Instead of shopping on impulse, you can set aside a small amount of money each week and build up a collection of favorite pieces you know you love already. There’s no need to spend any money on new clothes unless you absolutely must, and when you do, opt for sustainable choices. For example, look for brands that don’t use sweatshops or child labor, and purchase products made from organic cotton whenever possible.
While it may take some discipline to put together a wardrobe every season, it’ll help you avoid spending more money than necessary on unnecessary goods. Plus, you’ll end up with less clutter to deal with once you get around to cleaning out your closet. Not to mention the peace of mind knowing you didn’t contribute to the destruction of the environment along the way.
As a consumer one must be cautious while purchasing from any brand. Do thorough research about that brand. Some important points such as animal testing, environment- friendly, sulphate and paraben free are the factors you need to consider before choosing a brand.
2. Shop Consistently
If you’re a frequent shopper, you probably think it’s impossible to go back to basics and shop for clothes in bulk. After all, wouldn’t that mean you’d never be in the mood to wear anything new again? The truth is, it doesn’t have to be either/or. Shopping consistently for quality used and secondhand clothing means you can maintain your wardrobe while avoiding the expense and hassle of purchasing new items too often.
When you do find yourself in the market for a new pair of pants or T-shirt, ask yourself whether you really need them or if there’s another option available. Don’t forget to check out the thrift stores, resale shops, and vintage stores near where you live. Some of these places actually offer designer labels at affordable prices, making it easier than ever to own more of your favorite pieces without compromising your budget.
As an added bonus, you’ll likely be able to score a bargain because most companies don’t expect their customers to return merchandise after a few wears. So if you’re looking for a great deal, consider buying two pairs of pants rather than a single pricey new pair.
3. Swap Your Clothes for Free Ones
Many eco-friendly consumers are finding that swapping their old clothes for free ones donated by local charities is the best way to stay green. Many communities across the country hold clothing drives and other events designed to collect gently worn items, while others provide drop-off boxes at select locations where you can leave your unwanted garments in exchange for new ones.
Donating your clothing is also a good way to get rid of extra stuff you’ve accumulated over the years. Even better, many charities give you the opportunity to donate a portion of what you receive in return for tax deductions, meaning you’ll come out ahead financially.
You can also find a variety of clothing swaps online in addition to the options mentioned above. Just browse the listings carefully to ensure the site offers high-quality clothing donations and that you’re getting exactly what you pay for when you swap your old threads. Plus, many sites allow you to trade a percentage of your items for cash, so you can keep your hands clean while still staying true to your green values.
4. Reuse Old Clothing
Although recycling is usually considered a much greener alternative to wearing new clothes, it’s important to remember that the majority of clothing ends up being disposed of in landfills anyway. This means reusing your old clothes instead of tossing them into the trash is an even better choice for the planet.
There are plenty of ways you can reuse old clothing without having to buy new. For starters, you could cut up your favorite t-shirts and dresses into pillows, or turn them into skirts, hats, shawls, purses, and scarves. Or, if you’re feeling ambitious, you could sew them into reusable bags or even make your own curtains.
Another option is to repurpose your old coats and jackets by cutting off the sleeves and legs and turning them into rugs. When your old sweaters become threadbare, you can knit a patchwork scarf or create a cozy blanket using recycled yarn. A quick trip to your local fabric store should yield plenty of ideas for creative, eco-friendly projects to do with your old clothes. Just make sure you wash everything thoroughly before putting it to work.
Of course, you could always hang onto your old clothes for future use and pass them down to family members or friends who may appreciate a little extra warmth during the cold winter months. That said, remember that it’s a good idea to replace those items you regularly wear and don’t want to let go of for sentimental reasons. Otherwise, you could wind up with a bunch of clothes you don’t actually need.