Fast fashion is a term to describe fashion’s business model of producing cheaper designs of trends and designer fashion; it is the third largest polluting industry in the world. Stores like SHEIN, which produces 700-1000 new products daily are not the only ones to blame. America’s consumerist culture encourages excessive shopping sprees with frequent disposal of previous wardrobes. Textiles account for 6%, or 16 million tons, of the total (US) municipal waste, the EPA reports. In context, plastics make up 13% of that waste pile. 10 million tons of that clothing end up in landfills. More importantly, 69% of clothing is made up of synthetic fibers (Polyester, elastane, nylon, and acrylic), which are essentially oil or natural gas—fossil fuels. Therefore the production and disposal of these materials directly affect our carbon footprint (total greenhouse gas emissions by a particular event or individual). That being said, there are several ways to be a more conscientious and sustainable consumer.
Obviously shopping secondhand reduces waste, but it is also relatively inexpensive, and many stores donate profits to charity; so you are doing double the good! Although it may seem risky because of quality or cleanliness, in actuality, you can find great clothing, just give it a wash before wearing it. Moreso, you can find one-of-a-kind clothing and curate your closet to a unique taste. And if you want designer clothing shop consignment or vintage; oftentimes you will find better clothing from other eras. There are also online thrift stores, like Depop, where you can shop for exclusive and rare items online. There are an endless amount of options locally and online, and it is becoming increasingly popular. According to WSL, Generation Z is 40% more likely to shop in consignment stores than other generations. Younger kids' habits are an indication of where the rest of our culture should shop. By shopping secondhand, you can develop a new fashionable hobby that is both cost-efficient and environmentally friendly!
Buy Long-lasting Garments
Fast fashion styles are not made to last. So, if you are buying from a retail store, buy quality clothing that you will keep for a long time. Americans produce about 75 pounds of textile waste per year, on average, probably because of constant trend cycling and improper buying decisions. So, if you're adding to your wardrobe consider some questions: the obvious ones, will I wear it again? Is it comfortable? Do I need this? But also, “Can I see my hand through it?” If you can, it's too thin and won’t last. “Does it pass the tug test? Similarly, this aids in ensuring quality, durable fabrics. More importantly, ask yourself, “Can I maintain it?” Not only do you have to intentionally buy quality clothing, but you have to care for its condition. This may mean washing your underwear and bras in a lingerie bag or hanging dry spandex clothing. You need to learn to care for your clothing. Hopefully, if you put thought into your purchase, and love what you buy, maintaining the items should be innate. Another item, The Guppyfriend Washing Bag, prevents microplastics from polluting our waterways while protecting our clothing. During the wash cycle, microplastics from synthetic fibers in our clothing are released into bodies of water, polluting the water and contaminating the surrounding life. The Guppyfriend is the first solution. By putting your clothing inside the bag, while in the wash, the bag collects the microplastics to be disposed of. Doing so also ensures longevity for your synthetic clothing. Therefore, buy clothing thoughtfully and intentionally care for it, so you're not quickly disposing of garments, which causes excessive clothing waste.
Buy From Sustainable Brands
In addition to buying long-lasting clothing, buy from sustainable clothing brands. GoodOnYou is an online rating website and app that evaluates a company’s claims for Planet (environmental policies), People (workers’ condition across the supply chain), and Animals (animal welfare) according to a 5-face rating system and provides a synopsis of that company’s ethical commitment and values. It then gives that brand an appropriate sustainability title: We avoid, Good Enough, It’s a Start, Good, and Great. Its design allows you to shop by apparel, so if you're in search of anything from shoes to intimates, the website will guide you to sustainable brands. This way you can shop retail that is good for the planet.
Donate or Reuse Clothing
There is not much to explain with this step: donate your clothing or repurpose it. FABSCRAP is an example of a company that picks up old clothing from retailers and individuals and repurposes it for insulation, carpet padding, or for artists and crafters. There are similar places locally across the United States. Even if it's donating your clothing to Salvation Army or Goodwill, whatever it takes to keep clothing out of the landfill cycle.
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