15 February 2020

It's Time To Boycott Fast Fashion - How To Shop More Sustainably

When I was a teenager my favourite thing to do at the weekend was to take my pocket money with me into Brighton and spend all day looking around H&M, New Look and Topshop with my friends. I'd be buying new clothes almost every week. I would be chuffed with myself if I could find a nice top for £5 or less and barely ever bought anything over £10. I'd never heard of the term "Fast Fashion" and if you'd told me that these clothes and brands were contributing to more than a quarter of our total impact on climate change (BBC NEWS) then I probably wouldn't have believed you.

If you don't know by now, fast fashion is the term for fast production of new clothes at the lowest possible price. Our consumer heavy, throwaway culture has caused the production of new clothes to soar in recent years, but can we really blame the average customer when most of them are unaware of the impact their clothes have on the planet?

It's very hard to imagine the effects our clothes are having on the environment whilst standing in line at Zara or even when looking at them in our wardrobes. Like many climate disasters, they happen far away from us, in developing parts of the world and in the oceans, but just because we can't see it doesn't make it any less real.

The fashion industry causes many environmental issues during production, use and the disposal of our clothes. For example, the average pair of jeans and a T-shirt take 10,000-20,000 litres of water to grow enough cotton required to make them. Now think how many pairs of jeans and T-shirts you own and how many there are being sold in shops worldwide right now...that's a lot of water! India and Pakistan are the UK's biggest importer of cotton and both countries suffer from water scarcity.  (THEGUARDIAN)

Hopefully by this point you're asking yourself "is there anything we can do about this?" Well I'm happy to say that the answer is yes! In fact there are a number of steps we can take to be more conscious with our purchases and shop in a more sustainable way. These are the practices I try to stick to when buying clothes, hopefully it will inspire you to do the same.

1) Just stop buying clothes...

I know that sounds drastic, but the number one thing you can do to lower your impact is to stop buying new clothes. Now obviously this isn't possible for everyone, especially if you have children but if you can then I definitely would recommend you challenge yourself to see how long you can go without purchasing a new item of clothing.
The reality is you probably already have enough in your wardrobe already. Did you know the average British woman hoards £285 of clothes they will never wear. That adds up to about £30 billion of unworn clothes between us! (FASHIONREVOLUTION) So maybe it's time we start wearing what we've already got before we go and get yet another new outfit.
It's difficult when trends are changing so quickly, right now there are approx 52 'micro-seasons' every year. It's LITERALLY changing every week. So to stop myself from feeling like I need the newest look I try to stop myself from going into fast fashion stores or onto online shopping sites like ASOS. It's much easier to resist temptation when you stop looking at it.

2) Buy secondhand

If you are a fashion lover like me then not buying any clothes at all might be too much for you. In that case the second best option is to buy second hand. The clothes will be new to you but it didn't require anymore emissions or energy to create them for you as they already existed. I truly believe buying second hand is the way forward, not just when buying clothes but also furniture, electronics and sometimes even food (as long as it's not half eaten, obvs). Buying second hand is so easy these days as there are so many ways you can do it! 
Charity Shops - Most towns have charity shops in and as second hand clothing becomes more fashionable so are the offerings you can find inside these shops. Of course it's going to take more effort to find great pieces but I think that's half the fun, plus you can get some huge bargains here! 
Vintage Shops - I am very lucky to live in Brighton and have an abundance of vintage shops at my disposal. These shops are usually a bit more expensive but the quality of vintage clothes is often so much better than modern clothes so you know they'll last you. Plus it's a great feeling knowing this piece is one of a kind for you! 
Buy Online - If your town doesn't have much to offer in the way of charity or vintage shops then online stores are your friend. Places such as ebay and Depop are full of second hand clothes, it's easy to search for exactly what you want and often it's cheaper than buying clothes brand new!
Car Boot Sales - Or flea markets if you are not from the UK, are a great way to find second hand clothes usually for super cheap. My favourite denim jacket is from a car boot sale and it cost me just £3! 
Kilo Sales - There are a number of kilo sales that tour around most major UK cities offering tonnes of vintage/second hand clothing for you to browse and buy. Usually you are given a bag (or even better if you take one yourself) to fill up and you're charged for the weight of the clothes you buy rather than per item. This can be great if you are trying to buy less, as you can go to the local kilo sale every couple of months to get a few new pieces if you need it. It usually works out cheaper as well! 

3) Be an outfit repeater


Lizzie McGuire had the right idea all along. For some reason in our society it's seen as a bad thing to wear an outfit more than once? I'm pretty sure this idea was invented by clothing companies to make up buy a new dress for every occasion but guess what, you don't need to! Once you realise that you can wear the same one or two dresses to each of your friend's weddings then you will find yourself buying a lot less clothes and probably saving a lot of money! 
Also take a look at combining your summer and winter wardrobes. I often pair summer dresses with tights and jumpers or tuck them into jeans to make them wearable all year long! 

4) Repair & Rework! 

This is something I want to get better at. Rather than throwing away your clothes when they get a tear or a hole, take some time to repair them! It's easier than you think to sew up that pesky rip in the inner thigh of your jeans. Repairing your clothes will make them last much longer and save the environment and your bank balance if you do this rather than replacing them each time! 
If you are buying more second hand clothes then there's a high chance you will have to make some alterations. Perhaps the cut is a bit out dated or the fit isn't quite right. This will take a bit more time and effort but if you can do it then it's a great way to show off your creativity and make something that is unique to you! There are loads of "thrift flip" videos on youtube to give you inspiration! 

I hope this post has opened your mind  to the fast fashion industry and given you some ideas of alternative and more sustainable ways to shop. If you are interested in this then I suggest you take a look at a documentary called "The True Cost". It shows the various impacts of the industry in great detail and really opened my eyes to the reality of the industry and how I was contributing to it.  

You should also take a look at extinction rebellion's Boycott Fashion movement. A 52 week boycott of new garments and textiles: https://www.instagram.com/xr.boycottfashion/

I feel like this post has only scratched the surface of the fast fashion issue, so if you would like to read more posts about it then please let me know! 

Until next time, 
Beth x 

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