From Fast Fashion to Slow Fashion
The goal of challenge #18:
- Educate myself on the impact of clothing
- Make a list of natural vs man-made clothing materials
- Identify steps to become a more conscious clothes shopper
- Supporting Sustainable Development Goal 12 primarily, but looking along the clothing supply chain, particularly people and production, it effects so many elements; clean water, poverty, health, life on land and in water to name just a few.
Where has my clothes shopping mojo gone?
As a teenager, I was all. about. shopping! My weekends often consisted of the carefree-caressing of clothing-packed rails. My friends and I would have great fun trying on bits and pieces in changing rooms whilst babbling about the riveting goings-on of secondary school. Lovely memories, however as time has gone by, and particularly in the last few years, I have dwindling interest in shopping – put bluntly I have lost my shopping mojo!
Why? For clothing, I believe a big aspect is my increasing awareness of the nasty side of fast and cheap fashion. As consumers we have minimal transparency over where and how clothes and the materials used for them are produced, and I personally do not believe the fashion industry is taking a fraction of the responsible measures they should when it comes to conducting themselves in a socially and environmentally friendly manner. Whats more, our shopping habits have changed drastically over the past few years. Bricks and mortar stores are struggling, whilst online shopping is expanding exponentially.
There are so many facts and figures about the apparel industry which is estimated to have a value of $1.5 trillion in 2020. Rather than bombard you with facts here, I will give you two links for those who want to read some eye-opening facts:
- According to this Forbes article apparel creates around 10% of all global emissions, with the industry coming in at 2nd place after oil, as the largest polluter
- The rate of clothing returns for online shopping sits at 25% vs 9% of shop bought items. Take a look at this YouTube video on ‘What Retailers Like Amazon Do With Unsold Inventory’
For those of us wanting to find more eco and socially friendly ways of buying clothes there is a whole lot to think about; materials, production processes, transport, pollution through washing, possibilities of recycling … It’s no wonder that some of us get put off! However, given my desire to remain an up-standing citizen and not go against laws of public indecency I do plan to continuing wearing clothes 😄, so I hope I can identify a few better buying habits so that I can rekindle my enjoyment of clothes shopping.
1) What to buy - natural textile fibres
From last weeks research on microplastics, I discovered textiles and garments are the 3rd worst pollution contribution of microplastics. My aim is to increasingly go for natural materials – paying attention to fair-trade, responsible and organic production of the resources too. Read these Tree Hugger and My Green Pace articles for more information on some of the main materials.
2) Where to buy - Look at companies with sustainable values at their core
With a few (social search engine) internet searches I came across some really great companies who base their whole concept around sustainable fashion. Give yourself 10 minutes to search for ‘sustainable fashion’ in your country / language, and I bet you will find some inspiring options.
– The Green Labels – Their claim: ‘We curate sustainable labels that do not ask you to compromise on style or self expression’.
– Thought – Originating from Australia but with a UK base, Thought offers stylish and comfortable, but above all caring clothing.
– Glore – With a modern and fresh feel, Glore has a wide variety of styles and provide clear information on the fabrics, place of production and sustainable certificates. (Site in German)
– Hess Natur – Fashion and home textiles based on natural materials that are fairly produced. Hess Natur offers transparency throughout the whole supply chain and has invested directly in fair production locations around the world. (Site in German)
A well known high-street favourite:
– H&M – The Swedish fashion giant is a name most of us grew up with here in Europe. They have sustainability at their core and were named as one of the top global 100 sustainable companies. Long before the critics of fast fashion were on the scene, H&M was doing their bit and with the likes of the Better Cotton Initiative and their recycle exchange program they are lighting the fashion industry runway towards more considerate clothing practices. 👌
2nd hand & vintage – The options and avenues for quality 2nd-hand clothing is growing. If this hasn’t been an attractive option for you so far, you may be pleasantly surprised what you might find with a bit of research. I stumbled across this online site in Germany for Mädchenflohmarkt (Site in German).
3) How and how much - Less is more
As with all my Better Me Green research, one clear solution prevails – we need to move away from excessive buying. This is the best way to improve the impact we are having by limiting our need for raw materials and resources, as well as packaging and transport. By reducing our consumption we are doing good – it’s as simple as that. We should also move away from ordering 3 of the same item to try on at home and then sending 2 back!
Research done by Sandra Roos shows that the production and transport of a garment account for 92% of the total emissions.
6 steps to become a more conscious clothes shopper
- Most importantly – limit buying (I think for me a maximum of 2 new items per month is more than enough, and I will allow myself 2 second hand items too – So far this year (9th Feb) I have bought nada!✊)
- Seek out companies that base their activities around sustainable fashion (Glore has caught my eye!)
- Check labels and go for organic natural fibres
- Buy from 2nd hand & charity shops – not just new items
- Recycle any textiles that leave my home – Recycling 1 T-shirt saves 2100 litres of water!
- Sign up to the Love Your Clothes pledge to get more tips and motivation
Thanks for reading
Your Better Me Greener