A Beginner's Guide to Sustainable Fashion
As a lot of you may know, one of the most important steps to lead a more sustainable life is by changing the way you consume fashion. Nowadays, this industry is programmed to make consumers buy repeatedly and waste just in the same rhythm - we consume 400% more clothing items than just two decades ago and the average American generates 82 pounds of textile waste per year (The True Cost, 2015). This amount of consumption fuels an intensive use of limited resources making it one of the most polluting industries in the world.
The news are everywhere but a question remains - How can we, as consumers, have less harmful impact within the fashion industry without changing radically our lifestyles? Well, we advise you to start with these really simple and yet very powerful steps:
1. Read tags
By knowing the composition of an item, you can see whether that piece is recyclable, biodegradable or if it was produced using a large amount of resources. In order to perceive this, the first thing you must know is that any product that is made 100% of a certain material (being synthetic or plant-based) is better than a mixture. This happens because it is really difficult to recycle a textile product that is a mix of materials. These, almost always end up by not having a second chance in “life”.
Secondly, plant-based materials such as Cupro, Lyocell (tencel), Modal and/or Linen are less harmful for the environment since they are biodegradable, less-resource intensive and don't require the use of harmful chemicals in its production process. And thirdly, if you see a tag that says “Upcycled” it means that the product was produced with already used materials, giving a second chance to what would otherwise be considered waste - a great choice!
2. Give preference to products made in your country of residence
Besides fuelling the local economy, products made across the world have a much bigger CO2 footprint since they had to travel the world to arrive there. Furthermore, products made in developing countries such as Bangladesh are often made by workers in precarious living conditions. This happens because companies seek the cheapest production prices and often even make pressure to the factories to lower them which in consequence means even lower wages for the workers. Nevertheless, and because most fast fashion products are made in these countries, if you absolutely loved a product produced there, make sure you check the brand website and what certifications they own, ask questions and ideally, join the Fashion Revolution movement of #whomademyclothes, since we don't want another Rana Plaza disaster.
3. Think whether you will use it at least 30 times
One of the most common mistakes when going shopping is impulsive buying - getting an item because its trendy at the time or cute for one specific event. These items are doomed to end up in landfills in short notice. Doing this is the same as buying disposable cutlery / plastic straws - totally unsustainable. So each time you are about to buy a piece of clothing accept the #30wears challenge of Livia Firth, the founder and creative director of Eco Age and an executive producer of the movie The True Cost and think - will I use it at least 30 times? As she said very well: ““At the moment of purchase, stop for a second and think: Will I wear it in six months' time? Will I wear it next year? Will I wear it a minimum of 30 times? If the answer is yes, buy it” (International Business Times, 2016).
4. Don´t cut the wash & composition tags from your clothes
Did you know that for a piece of clothing to be recycled, they must have tags? Without those, it's impossible to identify the materials composing the item and hence, impossible to recycle. So, keep the tags on to allow the possibility of a second life.
5. Wash your clothes only when necessary
Washing clothes requires a lot energy, water and utterly money. Washing items intensively and with too much detergent also reduces its life span. So, wash only when necessary and preferably with natural detergents and follow the recommendation on tags to prolong the lifespan of the items you love.
6. Go to swap markets and second hand stores
Nowadays there are lots of markets with beautiful and high-quality clothes waiting for a second home. This is utterly the best thing you can do because you are contributing for the circular economy by using something that would otherwise end up in landfills and hence, avoiding waste and extra production of pieces of clothing ;).
With these six steps #ecowarriors, you will be able to make more mindful decisions when shopping - you will end up with more space in your closet, more money in your wallet and spend less time choosing what to wear in the morning. It will simplify your life and hence, your mind! <3
PS: if you have any extra tips regarding this subject, we would love you hear them! Please tag @fair_bazaar and share them through your Instagram stories so we can share with our community as well!