We’ve heard it before. Fast fashion is bad for the environment, ethical production, and the lifetime of clothes and trends. But how do you actually avoid fast fashion? But more importantly, can you even afford to quit the one lifeline you have, that makes it possible to follow the trends of the season without breaking the bank account?
The short answer is yes. Yes, you can afford it, because there are plenty of ways to become a conscious and sustainable shopper. I have collected some of the best and easiest tips on how to avoid fast fashion in your daily life right here.
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See this as your go-to helpline, when you are scrolling through a fast fashion brand’s website at 11 pm Tuesday night, and don’t know whether to buy the 10$ dress.
When you want to avoid fast fashion, there are several things you can do. Cut down on your shopping, choose to buy your clothes from second-hand stores, and choose brands with a transparent policy are just a few things you can do in your daily life to avoid fast fashion. Let’s look at what else you can do.
What is fast fashion?
But before we get to the tips, let’s get to the button of what fast fashion actually means. The term fast fashion is being thrown around in the media and the fashion industry. But what does fast fashion actually mean, how did it find its way onto the catwalk, and how we make sure we avoid fast fashion?
To answer those questions I think we have to take a step back and look at how the fashion industry has developed throughout the past decades.
You see fashion production was for many years divided into four collections. One for every season. Before a new collection made it to the catwalks or the stores, months of design processes, production, and hard work had been put into it.
But as technology developed so did the fashion industry – and the production facilities. Before fast fashion, buying new clothes every week was mostly for the rich. But new technologies, as well as new ways of thinking about fashion, made it possible to deliver styles that matched the trends seen on high-end catwalks to an inexpensive price.
This was made possible on the basis of the use of low-quality material, bad working conditions at the factories, and the choice of not giving the environment any thought.
The result was an industry producing clothes at the same price as fast-food, which gave its buyers the opportunity to follow the trends that changes every month.
The alternative to fast fashion: Slow fashion
Fast fashion has an opposite – funny enough it is called slow fashion. If you haven’t heard about slow fashion, maybe you have known it by another name: Sustainable fashion, eco-fashion, and ethical fashion are all phrases that almost mean the same as slow fashion.
These ways of (re)thinking fashion are all about making fashion as sustainable and climate-friendly as possible. You can read more about what slow fashion is here, where you will find a complete guide to the term and movement.
11 tips that help you avoid fast fashion
Now that we have covered what the term means, it’s time to figure out how we can avoid fast fashion. To do that, I have gathered 11 tips that will help you get started. You can easily implement all these tips in your everyday life and hopefully, they will be useful on your journey to avoid fast fashion and build a conscious wardrobe.
1. Buy fewer clothes
A very simple, and very cheap advice. The best way to avoid fast fashion or simply becoming a more sustainable shopper is by cutting down on your shopping in general. Truth is, You don’t need to follow all trends every season. That won’t make you happy.
I guarantee you, that you actually will get a more unique and outstanding style if you don’t. Instead, invest in a few items of high-quality each year that will last season after season. This will definitely make you a more sustainable shopper and have a positive effect on your bank account as well.
2. Challenge yourself and your friends
If you find it a little hard not to rush out to a high street chain and buy the latest trends, then I got a little challenge for you, that might help you to get another perspective on impulse shopping and fast fashion.
You probably have more in your closet than you know. Probably more than you even use in a month, maybe even a year. So, I dare you to try the project 333 challenge. Basically, this is about only using 33 pieces of clothes in 3 months.
This way you need to be creative and create different looks with what you’ve got. You will probably find out that you’re already using most of the same clothes anyway and 80% of your clothes are just hanging in your closet waiting to be used.
3. Read about what fast fashion is
Well, actually you are kind of already following this advice, so good for you. One of the best things you can do if you want to become more sustainable is to read about the topic and what alternatives there are out there.
If you are interested in learning more about sustainable fashion, you can find a full guide on what sustainable fashion is right here. It is also a good idea to read up on all the terms because it truly can be a jungle to navigate in.
Today you can find all sorts of information on the internet, but be aware that everyone can post an article on the internet today, so be critical when reading something. In general, there is a lot of great content and guides to understand sustainable-, ethical- and eco-fashion. So be curious and explore the world of environmentally friendly clothing.
You can also find more information on how the fashion industry is doing right now on the pollution barometer at places like Global Fashion Agenda right here.
4. Shop second-hand clothes
If you are having a hard time cutting down on your purchases, a tip is to change the way you shop. Instead of buying new clothes all the time, go on a treasure hunt in a vintage or second-hand shop.
Second-hand shopping is getting more and more popular and you can find some fantastic things in these stores. A great bonus is that vintage and second-hand are often much cheaper than buying new clothes. At the same time, you can find clothes that are much more unique than the clothes on the hangers in high-street chains. In that sense, you get to save money, look amazing, and avoid fast fashion at the same time.
If you don’t have a great thrift store nearby don’t worry. The internet is filled with online vintage stores just waiting to be explored.
5. Don’t buy clothes just because you can donate them later
Maybe you already feel like you are doing something great for the environment because you are donating or selling your old clothes as second-hand. Of course, it is great that you are giving your clothes a new life, but it is not so great if you, because of this, feel like it’s okay to continue to have a large consumption.
A lot of people believe it is just as good to buy clothes because they know that they can sell them again, but when you buy clothes, especially fast fashion, you are contributing to keeping the fast fashion supply chain running – not exactly the greatest way to avoid fast fashion.
6. Be aware of who made your clothes
Fast fashion isn’t cheap, someone somewhere is paying for it. This phrase is often used, when fast fashion is described as the cheapest clothing option. When you only pay 10$ for a dress, both the materials and the working conditions at the factory can’t really be excellent.
Often in fast fashion people at the factories are working under really bad conditions and for a very low salary because the brands want to keep the price as low as possible.
By supporting brands that have a transparent policy and production, you make sure that the people who made your clothes were treated fairly and paid a fair salary.
7. Try to avoid certain materials
Some materials have a bigger effect on the environment than others. Animal fabrics such as leather and fur are some of the worst materials you can wear because the raise of the animals in itself emits a lot of pollution. Not to mention all the ethical considerations of such materials. Just think of how much meat production affects the environment every year.
Other products such as cotton also have an impact on the environment but here you can choose to buy clothes made out of organic cotton. In general fast fashion uses a lot of harsh chemicals which isn’t exactly great for the environment. So when you are shopping, remember to check which materials are used to produce your clothes.
8. Hold on to your clothes a little longer
Did you know, that carbon and water footprints would be reduced by 5-10% if the life of a piece of your clothes would be extended by 3 months? We are so used to throwing out our clothes when we don’t want them anymore or when it breaks because it is so easy to buy new cheap ones.
But buying new clothes every month create marks on the environment and you can change this just by hanging on to your clothes a little longer. So if you want to avoid fast fashion and creating a more sustainable lifestyle try to hold on to your clothes a little longer.
9. Bring your old clothes back to life
Did you, like me, dream about becoming a fashion designer when you were little? Well, now you have the chance.
One of the greatest ways to avoid fast fashion and make your wardrobe more sustainable is by taking good care of the clothes that are already hanging in your closet. You can either do this by repairing your clothes if it breaks or, if you’ve gotten tired of the design, redesigning your old clothes.
If redesigning your own clothes seems like too big a task for you, then go online, get inspired by others, and then bring your old clothes, along with your visions, to the tailor. Here someone else can help you turn your old clothes into your new dream wear. Then you will also be sure the clothes actually fit your body perfectly.
10. Keep in mind it takes time to break habits
Don’t be mad at yourself if you end up falling into old habits and find yourself in the dressing room trying on a 10$ dress. All beginnings are tough and it takes a new habit to break an old one.
You need to make it a habit not to go online and shop at fast-fashion sites and I can almost guarantee you, that you will find yourself breaking your promise to yourself about avoiding fast fashion at least once.
So if you want to avoid fast fashion you need to make it into a habit. Find alternatives and changes the way you think about clothes and fashion – it will definitely make it easier for you to avoid fast fashion in the future.
11. Shop locally
When your clothes are produced on the other side of the world they have to be shipped all the way back to stores all over the world. This transportation of clothes emits a great amount of pollution, and thereby affects the environment in a negative way.
By choosing to buy clothes from a brand, that produces their clothes in your country of residence or one of the neighboring countries, the journey of the clothes will not have affected the environment in as much.
Of course, you always have to look at the whole supply chain of a product and you should always look into a company’s manufacturing. But you should keep production location in mind when shopping if your goal is to avoid fast fashion and become a sustainable fashion lover.
Extra tip: Set goals
Set goals that are easy to reach, this will keep you motivated much longer. You can make an account where you can put in all the money you have saved from not buying new clothes and decide that you are going to do something fun with that money.
You can also bet on how long you think you can avoid fast fashion temptations and if you last longer give yourself a reward like a spa treatment or a nice dinner. I bet you will stay more focused on avoiding fast fashion if there is a competition involved!
I hope you enjoyed my list of tips on how to avoid fast fashion. If you find it a bit hard to avoid fast fashion keep in mind that all beginnings are tough. It is better to keep a positive mind and start out small than giving up halfway. I am cheering for you!
If you liked the article feel free to leave a comment down below or if you are interested in stuff related to this article, then read one of our articles on sustainable fashion here.