How to stop our fast fashion addiction? We all dream of having the wardrobe of our dreams. We want it filled with clothes that we want and need to suit our mood and for different occasions. However, we actually end up only using 20% of the clothes in our closet.
We only wear our clothes only 7 times in a year on average. Then, we forget them in the darkest corner of our closet or we discard them. The only exception to this are the clothes which we consider our favorites. Those ones we wear often and usually until they are all worn out.
Fast Fashion and Its Negative Effects
We may not realize it, but we’ve probably bought and dressed in a lot of fast fashion items. We see them on high-end runway shows. They then become available for purchase a few weeks later.
This is what fast fashion is all about. Its producing clothes faster than most people need to wear them. Its producing clothes in lesser quality, but more quantity. Cheaper imitations are also available for those who want an even lower price range.
Clothes are discarded at an alarming rate due to fast fashion. These go out of fashion really fast. New styles and designs are being displayed on the runways each week. This means people also have a new trend to follow. The environmental impact of this phenomenon is staggering.
- The fashion industry generates 5% of the global greenhouse emissions through the materials used, manufacturing processes and freight operations.
- Toxic chemicals are used to dye garments for faster and cheaper production.
- Garment workers are forced to work in an unhealthy environment.
- Clothes don’t last long so you constantly need to buy clothes; which is terrible for your budget.
- It takes 20,000 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of cotton.
- 4 trillion gallons of water are wasted on producing textiles and clothes. This is enough to fill 550 million Olympic-sized swimming pools.
- 57.1% of fashion waste end up in landfills; an average of 92 million tons of textiles waste produced every year.
- Polyester, the most commonly used clothing fiber is made from plastic and will never fully decompose. It will break down into microplastics which can harm wildlife and emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for many years to come.
- 16 million tons of CO2 emissions was generated by online returns of clothing in the US alone in 2020. This is equivalent to the emissions of 3.5 million cars on the road for a year.
- Almost 10% of microplastics dispered in the ocean each year come from textiles.
Even with these statistics; it is estimated that fast fashion brands will be producing twice the amount of clothes today than they did in the past.
Tips to Reduce the Effects of Fast Fashion
Being aware of the negative impact of fast fashion enables us to do something about how we consume fashion. Fast fashion does not only mean clothes; it also includes the stuff that goes with it such as bags, shoes and other style accessories. Here are 5 things you can start doing to help reduce the negative effects of fast fashion.
Buy Less, Buy 2nd Hand, Shop Your Closet
We have more clothes in our closet than we actually need so the first step is to buy less. Instead, shop your closet for what you can wear. Then shop for the items you need from 2nd hand shops or thrift shops where you may even spot classic styles and great vintage finds. You can even swap clothes with your friends or rent them for when the occasion calls for it. Yes, you may have to stay out of being on trend but there is no need to follow fashion trends anyway. At least you’re now taking the right path to a better environment.
Buy Sustainable, Buy Quality Over Quantity
Buy your clothing items from brands who focus on sustainability and quality rather than what’s on trend. Sustainable brands are not always expensive. Better still, buy from local brands to lessen transportation costs and emissions. If you can afford luxury brands then go for them as they ensure quality, which means your clothes will last longer. More importantly, make sure you buy classic styles so you never have to worry about going out of style. A little black dress is always fashionable for most occasions. It also comes in a unique variety of styles so you can choose your very own unique style or have it altered to suit your taste.
Don’t Throw Away: Repair, Recycle, Donate or Sell
Instead of contributing to the number of clothes in the landfill, use your sewing kit or sewing machine to repair torn or damaged clothes. Or give other people an income by having a professional repair it for you or alter it to update or “upcycle” it to suit your needs. You can donate your clothes to your family, friends or charitable institutions who need them. You can also sell them on 2nd hand shops in your area or online. Start decluttering your closet and see which clothes you can repair, recycle, donate or sell. Audit your wardrobe and see if you have the must-have closet staples which you can use for many, different occasions. Remember, there are ways to look expensive even on a budget.
Follow Washing Instructions and Use Sustainable Products
If you use a washing machine, pay attention to the washing instructions for different types of clothing. Different clothing materials need different settings for washing so they will maintain their quality longer. Also, look for organic or natural products to use in your washing so you are sure that they are biodegradable and won’t add even more chemicals to your clothes or the environment. If you have laundry shops do the washing for you; look for ones that use sustainable washing products as well.
Find Your Personal Style, Declutter and Try A Capsule Wardrobe
One of the major reasons why people buy fast fashion is because you get a sense of belonging to a group of people who share the same style preferences as you. However, we must never forget that each of us has our unique sense of taste and style which makes us attractive to others even if we are not wearing the latest trend in fashion. We can only highlight our own unique, personal sense of style by getting to know ourselves better. If we know ourselves better; we can be confident to express ourselves in many ways, including our fashion choices. Once you know your own style, it will be easier for you to declutter your closet and shop for your new wardrobe. You can even create your own capsule wardrobe. This will still allow you to express your style in whatever season or occasion.
Once you start thinking differently about how your style choices affect the environment; you will naturally dress differently. You become mindful of the things you do and the choices you make. As you start to dress different; you also start to think differently. With each better choice, you can grow closer to living a life that serves your overall wellness as well as that of your larger environment.