We hear it all the time: The fashion world is a major contributor to many of the world’s biggest environmental issues, and it’s only getting worse with each passing day. Landfills are overflowing, the oceans are dying, pollution is increasing. But how could we as consumers ever possibly contribute in a way that’s impactful enough to make a dent in these issues? Well, as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day – but through the efforts of thousands of people, stone by stone, over the course of many, many years. Likewise, changing the fashion industry will take time and effort from each of us as individual consumers – and you don’t even have to contribute by taking to the streets, protest sign in hand. One of the most effective ways to get brands and decision makers to change their ways is to reevaluate your consumption and let them see their wasteful methods growing less and less profitable.
Go for Vintage When Possible
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first: You should of course be buying pre-loved rather than newly made whenever possible. If this isn’t something you’re used to, we can assure you that purchasing someone else’s used items is by no means dirty, cheap or in any other way less than – in fact, you can find some truly unique, sold out, vintage pieces of a quality they simply don’t make anymore this way. Plus, it’s also a great way to shop designer without breaking the bank.
Swap Out Your Fashion Tech
It’s also important to remember that fashion isn’t just textiles, but also hardware like phones, watches, headphones, cameras, etc. Pay attention to the materials that go into making and keeping these running, the manufacturing methods and how easy they are to dispose of once defunct. For instance, go for watches like Solar watch, which run on solar power rather than disposable batteries, pick headphone models with proven longevity, protect your phone properly – and don’t buy the newest model every release.
Keep Used Clothing Out of Landfills
When you’re done with a fashion item, try your best to dispose of it in a way that minimizes the likelihood of it ending up in a landfill. How do you do that? First of all, obviously throw out as little as possible and go for biodegradable materials. Second, try to sell or give away your clothing to specific people or causes instead of donating, since many of the bigger organizations have more items than they can use at this point. Also, don’t make a habit of buying and returning, since a surprising number of retailers consider returned items unsellable.
Tailor, Preserve and Mend Your Clothes
Next, take the time to learn how to get the most wear out of your clothes and make them work for different stages of your life. Read up on how to best wash and care for the item without wearing it down unnecessarily – and how to remove bad stains instead of immediately considering it a lost cause. Learning basic stitching to mend small holes, adjust hemlines or take items in and out – or knowing who to go to get these things done – can also add years of life to your clothing and help you adjust to lifestyle changes and changing trends.
Be Critical of Brands – and Consider Why You’re Buying
Lastly, speaking of changing trends, be careful of mindlessly following them. The microtrends of recent years have allowed more fast fashion brands than ever to thrive – companies which besides being wasteful are also ethically questionable in many other ways. Also, for many people, following what’s trending has completely managed to erase their sense of personal style. Instead, they crave the sense of belonging that comes with identifying with an aesthetic and neglect finding their own preferences. This leads to constant impulse purchases, which need to be cheap for it to be even remotely affordable for you to keep up. To break the cycle, try stepping away from fashion TikTok and taking stock of the silhouettes, color palettes and inspirations you find yourself returning to – and invest time and resources in finding timeless quality items that have these qualities.