If you’re looking to live a greener 2017, one of the most eco-friendly switches you can make is a reshuffle of your attitudes towards ethical fashion, consumerism and sustainable secondhand clothing. I stepped away from fast fashion a year ago, and I haven’t looked back since.
It’s no secret that the fashion industry is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to climate change. A lot of this is because supply chains are long with many components; and often these components involve underpaid, sometimes underage, workers in terrible conditions. And then let’s talk about waste, as Greenpeace points out
‘400 billion square meters of textiles are produced annually, of which 60 billion square meters are left on the cutting room floor. Each year over 80 billion pieces of clothing are produced worldwide, and after its short lifespan, three out of four garments will end up in landfills or be incinerated. Only a quarter will be recycled.’
It’s pretty grim, and it’s not exactly something any of us actively WANT to be contributing to. So, in the words of Taylor Swift, I decided to be excluded from this narrative, one I have never asked to be a part of. That was over a year ago, and you know what, I have survived.
So here are my top tips when it comes to stepping away from dirty fashion in 2017:
Until you feel strong enough, do not go in high street shops. Don’t do it! Remove yourself from temptation. Build up your mental strength by finding better goals to channel that impulse money towards instead. Treat yourself to a nice meal, take a day trip, visit a museum. Redirect your impulse into memories that will stay with you without hurting someone else. Have a Saturday with nothing to do? Why not go on an adventure, make a discovery, eat something great or learn something cool instead? Once you’ve gotten into the habit of this, passing fast fashion won’t bother you anymore. Why would I want to buy some £5 t-shirt when I’m saving for tickets to that really cool show instead? And if internet shopping is your vice, there are website blocking softwares out there for you. Imagine that responsible you is a parent and irresponsible (or maybe drunk) you is your child, who also loves shopping. Get some parental controls on your internet until you’re strong enough to not buy large amounts of clothes you’ll never wear.
Consume Less, But Better Quality
It’s not about NEVER buying anything. Now and again you’re going to need something new, or you’re going to want a lil treat, and you don’t want to restrict yourself from buying to the point of resenting the whole thing, and just going back to the high street anyway. Instead, it’s worth spending that tiny bit more on a really solid investment thats A. not going to go out of style and B. not going to fall apart and end up in landfill. If you’re going to buy new, buy a beautiful statement piece from an ethical source. (I’m currently working on a brand directory, and it will be with you ASAP to help out.)
Pledge to #Secondhandfirst
My most important tip, is go secondhand. The #Secondhandfirst movement was launched by TRAID in 2014, with the goal of increasing the number of people committed to sourcing more of their material goods second hand. The world has a lot of stuff in it and we don’t always need to be producing more, especially if that production has dire consequences for eco-systems and people’s welfare. There is a secondhand option out there for you.
Firstly, sign the #Secondhandfirst pledge on the TRAID website, which is simply a commitment to sourcing more of your wardrobe second hand. Make your commitment clear to yourself: exactly how much of your wardrobe will you source secondhand, and how will you do it? If charity shops full of grandma cardigans aren’t your thing (although more than one grandma outfit has turned out to look great on me, just saying) then look at vintage stores, websites such as Ebay and Depop, grab a needle and try upcycling, or host a clothes swap with friends. What’s your action plan? There are a million options to keep textiles out of landfill in 2017, you just need to find the one that suits you.
Then, follow the #Secondhandfirst hashtag on social media to find an online community full of tips, inspiration and ideas. Maybe you’ll even find some other people in your physical area too. You can use this community to keep yourself accountable, to learn new ways to do things, and to just have fun.
The beauty of secondhand is that each piece is totally unique to you. I can’t tell you the amount of people I have physically annoyed when I tell them my outfit was from a charity shop, so they’ll never be able to find the same item themselves. Shopping secondhand is a wonderful way to carve out a totally unique sense of style; if you combine it with timeless, classic ethical pieces that’ll go the distance before you know it you’ve built an effortless wardrobe fit for any occassion, with no dirt on your hands.
Step away from fast fashion in 2017, and you’ll have a whole load of fun during the process.
Until next time, stay magic y’all.