If you’re not already familiar with the concept of sustainable fashion, you’re probably missing out on a fantastic opportunity to reduce your carbon footprint and play your part in a greener, healthier earth.
Fast fashion--think ZARA, H&M, Forever 21, SHEIN, and other brands-- are notorious for their environmental impact because they mass produce cheap, average, or low-quality clothes that fit current trends and rapidly sell them season after season. This means not only are they constantly manufacturing, but they’re using resources, generating waste, using exploitative labor practices, and engaging in all sorts of damaging practices.
As people continue to understand the harmful impacts of fast fashion, they are developing a greater interest in sustainable and eco-friendly fashion practices. But how realistic--and manageable--are they, really? Let’s take a look:
Sustainable fashion isn’t always affordable...
An unfortunate reality of sustainable fashion is that it’s not always the most affordable option out there. Sustainably sourced and produced materials are almost always more expensive than their mass-produced and sweatshop-manufactured alternatives, synthetic raw materials and fabrics, and environmentally harmful processes. This means that it may not be accessible to everyone--and that’s okay!
...But there are cheaper shopping options
The good part is that sustainable fashion doesn’t always need to mean organic materials, handmade items, and expensive artisan accessories. You can always shop secondhand, vintage, and ethically thrift items to extend their life cycle. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and you’re definitely going to find some incredible clothing items and fashion accessories by shopping secondhand.
Shop local and with trusted brands wherever possible
A simple rule of thumb to follow when trying to be more sustainable in your fashion choices is to simply shop local. While you should always choose brands that are as transparent as possible and open about how they’re working to be more sustainable, you might not always find the perfect fit. Remember that every effort counts, and you can make an impact by simply shopping at local stores that contribute less to corporations, transportation, and other points in the supply chain.
Sustainable fashion is a noble attempt at adapting our deeply-set practices and consumerist habits to be more reflective of conscious living, but that doesn’t give you a free pass to shop mindlessly either. Be selective, be specific, and shop only when you truly need something rather than just for the sake of owning it.
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