As consumers we are responsible for the supply and demand in every retail chain out there, and right now we live in a cultural moment that needs our time and attention.
Research indicates that although people may be environmentally conscious in most other aspects of their lives, with habits such as recycling paper and conserving water, they will still buy fast fashion clothing, which they acknowledge as being disposable. It’s time to be more bold with our footprint, and change the “aesthetics over ethics” theme we have been buying into for so long.
Here are 4 fast fashion rules you subconsciously subscribe to, and reasons why you should break them:
Fast Fashion Rule #1: No repeating outfits
I’ve found myself struggling to find something to wear in the morning, despite knowing I want to wear my comfy burgundy tights that I already wore the same week. We deny ourselves our favourite clothes because we’re afraid people will perceive us as poor, unfashionable, or maybe even smelly if we wear the same clothes often.
How to break the rule: Get over it and wear the same damn thing often! Wear it differently! Accessorise! Layer! Wear it upside down! If we’re moving toward valuing slow fashion, and having fewer better quality items, then we should not have an abundance to work with. Minimalism is good; make it trend.
The worst thing that could happen: People ask if you’ve run out of money (and you’re forced to tell them about the ethical fashion movement)
Fast Fashion Rule #2: Have a new item for every occasion
This societal rule balances on the previous one. If we can’t repeat outfits, then we must have a new one for every occasion, right? I’ve actually heard friends say “I have another wedding coming up, so I need to go dress shopping.” Listen ladies, fellas wear the same suit to every single wedding, take a page out of their books.
How to break the rule: Wear the same dress. I’ve personally worn the same long black dress to the last three weddings. No one has said anything and I’ve looked bomb every time.
The worst thing that could happen: People are confused on social media and think you’ve been at the same wedding the whole time, and you have to correct them.
Fast Fashion Rule #3: It can be donated.
Our cultural moment assures us that we need to have a lot of clothes to be relevant and desirable. So we buy, buy, buy and chuck it when we’re done. I think we imagine some airy-fairy land of clothing where people are skipping around smiling when they find the graphic tee we decided to send to a ‘better place.’ So wrong. The reality is, thrift stores are overwhelmed with clothes, donation boxes on the roadside are overflowing, and now more often than not, our donated clothes are ruining local economies abroad. Donating our used clothes is no longer a sustainable option.
How to break the rule: Don’t donate, have a clothing swap instead. That way you know you’re keeping the garment circulating locally, plus maybe there will be snacks! Lastly, when you’re shopping, ask yourself “do I need this?”
The worst that could happen: You recognise donating isn’t a good option and are paralysed with guilt for having so many clothes, so you stop buying so many clothes…
Fast Fashion Rule #4: Don’t have it? Just buy it.
There’s always an occasion that will require some random colour or item you don’t have. I’m talking about an orange t-shirt for a school event, an ugly Christmas sweater for a party, or a pair of purple socks for a staff gig. Your instincts will tell you, in order to save time, quickly grab something on the way home.
How to break the rule: Ask around! I’ve recently started doing this for clothes and beyond, and I’m amazed at how many things I’ve been able to borrow or find. This takes planning ahead, and being intentional with your commitment not to buy more clothing.
The worst that could happen: The socks you borrowed weren’t washed or you lose them and need to buy them a new pair (of which you have my permission to ask them “did you really need those?”)
As our culture has shifted towards favouring speed and convenience, our relationship with clothes has drastically changed. The industrial trend of fast fashion, is slowly creeping into dominant discourses around sustainability, but we still have a lot of work to do. Start breaking the rules.
Sarah is a lover of photosynthesizing beings and all things outdoors. She started her blog when she realized that people haven’t been making personal changes to improve the environment, because the information available is overwhelming and doesn’t feel relevant to most people in her life. It is a call to action to all of us to take responsibility for our actions, visit her blog to find out how you can make your life and future travels more eco-friendly. There’s something for everyone.