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Slow down on fast fashion

| Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Ruby Le

Maybe you have an environmentally friendly inclination. When you walk into high-street stores, with racks on racks of constantly evolving trends, you feel a tinge of guilt. You’ve heard of sweatshops; you’ve heard of the ghastly working conditions and minuscule pay. You sort of wonder how such an immense quantity of clothing can be constantly pumped through the consumerist system we live in.

Well, me too. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how irresponsible I am to consume so much more than I need and have so little regard for the impact my clothing choices have on other people and the environment.

“Fast fashion” and “sustainable fashion” have slowly become common terms, buzzwords. That said, many people struggle to truly understand their meaning and scope. Fast fashion refers to clothing that is “designed to be replaced quickly,” says Forbes. A primary example that comes to mind for me is trend-haven Forever 21. On the other hand, according to an article by Green Strategy, sustainable fashion, in a general sense, is “about producing clothes, shoes and accessories in environmentally and socio-economically sustainable manners, but also about more sustainable patterns of consumption and use, which necessitate shifts in individual attitudes and behaviour.” With this definition in mind, we can see that while it is true that industry must change its methods of production, we the consumers must change our personal habits as well.

There are many articles out there about how to become a more sustainable shopper. I’ve filtered through a few and drawn out some of their best tips. To start, a really easy question to ask yourself is whether you will wear something you buy at least 30 times, Elle says. This way, you can help produce less waste, for most don’t realize that “we send 13 trillion tons of our clothes to landfills in the U.S. alone,” as Forbes notes. It is also worth it to mention that the rule of 30 may even help you realize whether an item is a waste of your or your parents’ money.

Next, try to think harder about where you are purchasing. Refinery 29 suggests checking out the Sustainable Apparel Coalition website to see a number of brands that are trying to improve their practices. Supporting companies who, like you, hope to make smart changes will serve to further the cause. Current eco-conscious brands I’ve been into are Reformation, Outdoor Voices and Veja, which sell day-to-day clothing, athleisure and sneakers, respectively. For cost-friendly finds, H&M even has a Conscious collection.

Lastly, try to educate yourself on the truths of the fashion industry. By knowing what is really happening in fashion malls, factories and landfills both at home and abroad, we can make more conscious decisions. You can read articles, watch documentaries or reach out to companies themselves. “Consumers absolutely have the power to change the industry,” says Refinery 29. And if that is in fact true, surely the power will first and foremost come from education.

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