New trends, updated styles, attractive price tags; the ever-growing fast fashion industry appeals to most because of their ultra affordable prices. Cheap, low quality pieces have resulted to buyers wanting more (number of items) for less (money). What most of us don't realize is that cheap fashion comes at a high cost for the environment. Fast fashion ranks second to the oil industry in worldwide pollution emission.
Cheaper and faster production has become a global priority to meet market demand. As a result, the negative environmental impacts remain high and labour wages low. The best way to improve the fashion industry's current environmental and ethical situation is through sustainable practices.
Here are 5 ways you, as a consumer, can make more sustainable fashion choices:
1. Buy less with more consideration.
Don't buy something just because it's new and cheap. Instead, assess your needs, check what the garment is made of and where it's made, consider how you will use/wear it and whether it's worth the purchase.
On average, a piece of clothing is worn only seven times before it's discarded. Most of them end up in landfills. Every year enough garment is produced to provide each person on the planet with about 20 new pieces of clothing - or 150 billion in total. Do we really need that many?
2. Choose quality over quantity.
Don't fall for cheap articles that will only last you a couple of wears. Invest in better, smarter, more versatile pieces.
3. Stay informed.
Support brands that practice transparency. Before buying, ask yourself these questions: What is this (piece of clothing) made of? How was this made? Who made this?
4. Support slow fashion brands and artisans.
In a way, this summarizes the first three points above. Unlike fast fashion, "slow fashion" is the process of designing, making and purchasing apparel with longevity, quality, ethics and low carbon footprint in mind. Fair wages and precision may result in slower more expensive production but they also result in more ethical, high-calibre end products.
5. Take care of, mend and/or repurpose your wardrobe.
Over time and continual use, it is inevitable that your apparel will experience some wear. Practice care that will help lengthen the lifespan of your clothes - yes, this is when those lengthy care instructions come in handy. Also, instead of disposing old or damaged pieces of clothing, find ways to mend, recycle or repurpose them.
Sources: http://msl.mit.edu/publications/SustainableApparelMaterials.pdf http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/analysis-fast-fashion-comes-steep-price-the-environment