You know it's been a long time coming. You've been wanting to make your way towards a more sustainable wardrobe for some time, but now you want to commit to the switch.
Shopping sustainably might sound like a challenge and a lot of effort: having an awareness when seeing shiny new brands and products, and resisting the constant temptations from big brands who probably spend more on marketing than manufacturing.
However, in reality it’s simply about forming new habits and regularly reminding yourself of the benefits of taking more sustainable steps.
We’ve written a killer 5-point-plan to ditch the fast fashion and get you started on your eco-friendly fashion journey...
1. Research the fashion brands you love
Do your homework on the fashion brands you like, and build a picture of their values and methods. Work out which of the brands in your wardrobe are making the effort to keep their supply chain ethical and sustainable.
Start with their website. Simply put, ethical brands will be ultra-transparent about their supply chain because they have nothing to hide.
See what you can find concerning the following:
- Where products are manufactured
- Do they care about using organic/biodegradable materials
- Treatment of workers
- Any ethical accreditations (see the bottom of our "Our Story" page to see what they might look like)
Can’t find any information about their supply chain? That’s a red flag!
Next, go to Google and search your favourite fashion brands. Seeing what others are saying about them, including whether they’ve appeared in the news lately, will give you a more well-rounded picture of how they conduct themselves.
Getting to know the ethics of your favourite fashion brands will start to influence your choices.
2. Unfollow Fast Fashion Brands and Replace with Sustainable Brands
Unsubscribing from emails is a great way to put fast fashion to the back of your mind. Scan through your inbox and unsubscribe at the bottom of emails from fast fashion retailers. You can still subscribe back at any point, but you will forget now the temptation has gone.
After your inbox cleanse, the next thing is your social media. It’s a big step, but unfollowing fast fashion brands will remove a lot of that perfectly polished marketing and temptations from your feed. Not to mention, you’ll feel warm and fuzzy inside when your feed is full of eco-friendly messages, ethical values and independent businesses.
Here’s some accounts and friends we think you’ll love:
3. Seek out Ethical and Sustainable Brands that use Biodegradable Materials
Figure out where you’re going to head now to get your fashion fix! One surefire way to combat fast fashion is by opening yourself up to ethical and eco-friendly brands. Most sustainable brands will use biodegradable plant-based materials that are not only better quality, but they last longer, are recyclable and can be composted at the end of their life.
Examples of sustainable fibres to look for:
- Organic Cotton
- Organic Wool
- Recycled synthetics (eg. recycled polyester) - although not compostable, recycled polyester still gives a second chance to plastics that would otherwise have ended up in landfill, and takes a lot less energy to produce than virgin polyester. It's a start.
4. Plan your wardrobe
On a rainy day, try laying out everything in your wardrobe and seeing how many outfit combinations you can make. It’ll highlight how many impulse buys you’ve rarely worn, and save you countless stressful mornings trying to work out what to wear. Plus, it’s actually pretty satisfying!
Avoid cheap impulse buys in favour of planned purchases of high-quality clothing that lasts; a few good quality, sustainable items that you can combine to make multiple outfits.
By only shopping for the garments you need, when you need them, you break out of the fast fashion mentality and avoid wasting money and material on things you hardly wear. It’s the same reason that you shouldn’t go food shopping without a list!
Side note - when getting rid of clothes you no longer wear, don’t just throw them away! Recycle, swap, donate them… if you put them in the bin you’re undoing the hard work you’ve put in so far!
5. Remind yourself why you’re doing this
Unless you live under a rock, you know that the fast fashion industry exploits people, animals, and the planet.
What stops people from acting on this information is that they feel disconnected from it - they know it’s happening, but they don’t witness it - it’s hard to feel outraged when it’s all going on somewhere far away. This lack of outrage, combined with consumer demand and alluring "lifestyle" marketing is one of the main reasons fast fashion practices are being wilfully ignored.
Our biggest suggestion is to make a point of witnessing it - expose yourself to the consequences of fast fashion - feel that outrage - because it can be hard to make a commitment to change unless you feel passionate about it.
We can recommend a couple of short documentaries to get you started:
The True Cost - available on Amazon
‘The True Cost’ takes you through the whole process of creating clothes, the people who make them, and the impact the industry is having on our planet.
Minimalism - available on Netflix
In this documentary, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, aka The Minimalists, explore the issues of overconsumption and why your life may be richer with fewer possessions.