3 Things I have Learned in My Journey Toward Sustainability And Easy Changes Anyone can Make Now

By Fashion Revolution

3 weeks ago

By Sarah Finley Purdy

 

Modern life is not precisely conducive to living sustainably. The earth is undergoing an environmental crisis, while workers are underpaid and sometimes enslaved to provide the conveniences we demand in the West. Considering the prevalence of environmental pollution, climate change, modern-day slavery, and disproportionate access to fair wages, shopping ethically for the things we need can feel like a daunting task. I have been realizing with increasing urgency that I have an obligation to align my buying practices with my convictions.

What I consume and how much is important. I try to utilize Instagram or style blogs to find content that further educates and inspires me to buy slow. Clearing my feed of fast fashion accounts has cut down on my desire to give in to seasonal sales or impulse buys. The same goes for my email inbox – unsubscribing can enable you to live a whole new life as a consumer.

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The problem can sometimes be overwhelming and daunting. Still, small actions can benefit the planet, reduce landfill mass, and ultimately create a more meaningful relationship with the things we choose to purchase.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ As co-founder Orsola de Castro shares: "Fashion Revolution believes that one of the solutions is that of emotionally engaging with the things we buy – buying a little less, and loving a whole lot more," adding "And finding your own way to keep clothes longer, caring for them better, and investing in quality, in the things you buy, and in the lives of the people who make them."⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #fashrevusa #fashionrevolution

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It’s been refreshing to discover so many types of people communing over this topic. Within the slow fashion online community, there is a much greater degree of body acceptance and responsible fiscal habits – quite in direct contrast to the average influencer or model. An emphasis on caring for what you have and wearing what you already own stands in stark contrast to the fashion calendar’s devotion to endless new collections a year.

In a 2018 presentation entitled “New Models of Diversity.”, Dr. Joanne Entwistle profiled “Instagram mums” centering her research around the fact that diversity is not happening inside fashion and Instagram. The expert argues that the popular social network has enabled mothers to redefine fashion while subverting the traditional system, and in this broad summation of her work I found parallels to the slow fashion and sustainable communities: They, too, have the ability to redefine fashion and its core values for themselves. By bringing fashion down to a personal level, and highlighting its true function, style and utility are pushed to the forefront. Personal style is central, counter to the fashion industry’s trends. Beautiful fabrics and the people who make them are celebrated. Clothing is cherished, not merely used, and tossed away.

As I have attempted to change my shopping habits over the last year, here are some key things I’ve learned:

  1. Consider Materials

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Words from one of our co-founders @orsoladecastro – “The latest pledge towards a sustainable future, the Fashion Pact, unveiled at the G7, promises to ban virgin plastic from *packaging* by 2030. But what about the plastics in our clothes? Can the industry find a solution for the millions of tiny plastic fibres shed every time we wash our polyester running shorts?” What do you think? We would love to hear your thoughts below 👇 On the consumer side, for those with already existing synthetic clothing, microfiber catch solutions like @thecoraball and @guppyfriend can be used to catch unwanted micro-plastics reaching our oceans to some degree. 📷: @createsustain #createsustain 🔁: @orsoladecastro

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Organic and natural fabrics are gentler on the skin and more durable over time, compared to many synthetic and man-made alternatives. Garments discarded in landfills often break down only after decades, as the nature of synthetic fabrics and dyes is not biodegradable. Clothing made from material such as polyester or rayon will release microplastics into the water every time they’re washed, posing a threat to local water systems. Buying organic and natural fabrics such as cotton, silk, and wool, will enhance your wardrobe, prolong the life of your clothes, and seriously cut down on pollution.

 

  1. Buy Slow, Second Hand & Local

For years, I have relied on thrift and second-hand stores for my clothing; they are still the primary way I add to my wardrobe. Whether in person or online, I love the thrill of the hunt! Thanks to an increased awareness of sustainability, the second-hand market has been gaining serious traction over the past few years. There are now second-hand shops to match most price points, tastes, and needs. Shopping this way within your community also supports charities and small business owners who need it now more than ever. While shopping at your nearby Target or Zara may be more immediately convenient, purchasing staples like jeans and sweaters second-hand does long-term good for your community and the earth. Part of living more sustainably is acknowledging that what we need likely already exists, and having the patience to seek those things out.

 

  1. Consider your Social & Financial Status

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The problem can sometimes be overwhelming and daunting. Still, small actions can benefit the planet, reduce landfill mass, and ultimately create a more meaningful relationship with the things we choose to purchase.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ As co-founder Orsola de Castro shares: "Fashion Revolution believes that one of the solutions is that of emotionally engaging with the things we buy – buying a little less, and loving a whole lot more," adding "And finding your own way to keep clothes longer, caring for them better, and investing in quality, in the things you buy, and in the lives of the people who make them."⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ #fashrevusa #fashionrevolution

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Not everyone has access to sustainable and ethically made clothing. Buying second hand may present unique challenges for many. If saving up for a slow fashion or vintage piece isn’t in your budget, don’t feel guilty. You can still buy sustainably by being intentional about your purchases. Buying a better quality fast fashion piece, such as shoes made with durable materials, that can be worn 5-10+ years, is a much better use of resources than a pair that will wear out after a year or two. And even if that is not within your financial reach, educating yourself is a priceless tool. Commit to using your time to build awareness for struggling garment workers or join in efforts to clean up a local park or waterway.

Taking steps towards sustainability is not an overnight change, but requires a thoughtful building of new buying habits. I think the best advice is to shop your conscience with the information and budget you have at hand. As our purchasing power ultimately affects the world at large, knowledge is key.