The fashion industry is notorious for its fast-paced and ever-changing trends, leading to a culture of overconsumption, excessive waste and poor labour practices. According to the Global Fashion Agenda, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is wasted every second, with the fashion industry being responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions. As the negative impact of fast fashion becomes more apparent, many people are seeking ways to reduce their fashion consumption and adopt more sustainable and responsible shopping habits.
Here are 10 ways to reduce your fashion consumption and contribute to a more ethical and sustainable fashion industry.
Embrace Minimalism: Opt for a minimalist wardrobe by owning fewer, high-quality items that are versatile and made to last. Invest in timeless pieces that can be mixed and matched and avoid buying trendy items that may quickly go out of style. But, don’t let the term "minimalism" trick you into thinking you can’t be an over the top maximalist goddess! Its all about being more intentional and targeted so what you buy aligns with your style.
Re-wear your clothes: A huge pillar of the fast fashion industry’s success is the engrained culture that newness equals fashionable. Have you ever felt like you can’t re wear a look? That you already wore that dress to an event with similar people? This thinking is a fast fashion mentality conditioned in us by celebrity culture and influencers always wearing the newest thing. We need reframe the concept of re-wearing from “unfashionable” to part of building our visual identity. If you love that piece, make it part of your character! Check out creators like @izzy_mauel on instagram who de influences “newness culture” and shows us how to re wear your statement pieces!
The 30 Wear rule: You need to wear a garment 30 times to level out the carbon emissions created during its production. If you don’t think you’ll get that out of it, don’t buy it. This is a great filter to see if a piece is right for you. Don’t think the quality of a garment would even last that long? Maybe an even better reason to steer clear.
Buy Second hand or Vintage: Shop for second hand or vintage clothing from thrift stores, consignment shops, or online platforms. Buying pre-loved clothing not only extends their lifespan but also reduces the demand for new production, minimizing the environmental impact of the fashion industry. If you’re in Melbourne Australia, check out markets like A-plus market, a plus size new and second hand market with an amazing community!
Repair and Upcycle: Repair clothes with minor damages or wear and tear or upcycle them into new items. Learn basic sewing skills or take them to a local tailor or repair shop. Get creative and transform old clothes into new pieces, reducing the need for new purchases.
Rent or Borrow Clothing: Want to try something out of your norm? Consider renting formal wear, designer items, or other occasional wear for special events, or borrow clothes from friends or family. This allows you to enjoy different styles without contributing to overconsumption.
Educate Yourself and Support Ethical Brands: Research and support fashion brands that prioritize fair labor practices, use sustainable materials, and have transparent supply chains. By supporting ethical brands, you send a message that sustainability and social responsibility matter to you, bigger fashion brands are already starting to make small changes, and will continue to if we show them what we want!
Opt for Sustainable Fabrics: Choose clothing made from sustainable fabrics such as organic cotton, hemp, Tencel. These materials have a lower environmental impact compared to conventional fabrics like polyester. Recycled materials are also a good option as you aren't contributing to new plastics, however natural fibers are still the best choice for the environment because of their ability to break down and become a natural fiber in the earth again. Check out articles like this one from Pollution Solutions's on why plastic is so harmful.
Take Care of Your Clothes: Properly care for your clothes to extend their lifespan. This is a big one! Sometimes clothes wears due to poor quality, but other times poor education on correct maintenance can really be the down fall. Google care tips for new garment types and fibers you buy. Follow care instructions closely, mend minor damages, and store them properly to avoid unnecessary wear and tear.
Donate or Sell Unwanted Clothing: Instead of throwing away clothes you no longer wear, donate them to local charities or sell them through online marketplaces. This gives your clothes a chance to be reused or repurposed, reducing waste.
In conclusion, reducing fashion consumption is essential for promoting sustainability and ethical practices in the fashion industry.
Ps. Remember to be kind to yourself and others on their sustainable fashion journey. Sustainable practises should be encouraged, but they are not always accessible to everyone, cost and size inclusivity limit a lot of people from the privilege of looking to do better. By doing your best to make small changes that work for you, and by asking big brands to do better, you contribute to a fully accessible sustainable fashion future for everyone.