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Transitioning to a Slow Fashion Wardrobe in 7 Easy Steps
We’ve all heard horror stories about fast fashion. How it’s pumping out greenhouse gases and polluting our drinking water. The mountains of waste it creates. The terrible working conditions and low wages of the people who make these throwaway clothes. Fast fashion may be cheap but the planet is paying for it many times over.
If we want to protect our home and all its precious inhabitants, sustainable consumption is going to have to be the new norm. Read on to learn 7 easy steps you can take to transition to a slow fashion wardrobe.
Invest in Classics
The first thing you can do is to stop hopping on every trend. Once upon a time, there were just two fashion seasons: fall and spring. In an effort to get people to buy more, fast fashion manufacturers have completely transformed the fashion industry, and invented up to 52 seasons a year! Yes, that’s a new one every week. Don’t fall into the fast fashion trap. A $5 tee shirt isn’t so cheap if you only wear it once. Instead, invest in timeless pieces that can be worn for years and even decades to come.
When you opt for classic shapes made from quality materials, your cost per wear may actually turn out to be lower. More importantly, long-lasting pieces generate a lot less waste and carbon emissions. By the way, the concept of slow fashion isn’t limited to clothing. Accessories are also a big part of fashion trends. You’ll get much more wear out of classic single pearl necklaces than some cheap, trendy plastic beads that break the first time you wear them.
The average American has over 100 items in her closet. Many of us have much, much more, and a lot of it is fast fashion. We buy more than 60% more clothes than we did just 20 years ago, and keep it for a much shorter amount of time.
On average, we throw away over 80 pounds of clothes each year. If the urge to purge as part of your effort to transition to a more sustainable wardrobe is strong, take it slow. When you go through your wardrobe, don’t just toss all your fast fashion clothes. A truckload of textiles is burned or dumped every single second. Landfills are overflowing with these throwaways, and burning them isn’t doing the environment any favors.
Rather than waste mental energy on guilt, make these clothes earn their keep and wear them. The fast fashion industry has lured us into buying clothes fast and throwing them away even faster. But we can break out of the trap. Wearing a piece of clothing for a full year rather than tossing it after just a month or two cuts down significantly on greenhouse gas emissions and waste.
Care & Repair
Yet another easy step you can take to turn your fast fashion wardrobe into a slower one is to simply follow the care instructions on the label. If it says ‘hang to dry,’ don’t cook the item in the dryer. To cut down on water waste, always run a full load.
Also, be sure you’re washing dirty clothes, as opposed to ones you just tried on and decided not to wear and dropped on the floor. Willing to take things a step further? It is a not-so-secret industry secret that fast fashion is designed to fall apart, aka, planned obsolescence.
Hems are intentionally left with hanging threads so they will fray and buttons are loosely attached without knots so that they fall off. Manufacturers are hoping you’ll toss these clothes and buy more. But a couple of quick stitches with a needle and thread can keep your clothes in the wearable condition through more washes and wears.
A big part of the problem with fast fashion is wastefulness. Only wearing a dress one time is not sustainable for the planet or the wallet. Another great way to cut down on waste and save beaucoup bucks at the same time is to shop at secondhand and consignment stores.
Keeping more clothes out of the trash heap for longer is the name of the game. Besides perusing your neighborhood Goodwill, Salvation Army Store, and other local resalers, check out online shops like Poshmark, ThredUp, The RealReal, and Tradesy for top name brands. Double down on doing your part for the Earth by consigning some of the gently-worn pieces that you no longer want, and earn extra dough to boot!
Hold a Swap Meet
Yet another way to share the love and get maximum use out of your apparel is to trade with friends, family, and neighbors. Pick a date and a place, send out an email blast, and get everyone in on the swap. This not only reduces waste, but it also doesn’t cost you a dime. No need to limit yourself to clothes here either. Housewares, furniture, kids’ stuff, all of it can be passed around to those who can use it. Swap meets are practical and fun.
Slow Fashion Wardrobe: Shop Mindfully
Sewing, swapping and caring for your clothes already go a long way toward cutting down your fashion carbon footprint, but sometimes you still need to buy new. When you do, shop sustainable brands first. Look for organic fibers, non-toxic dyes, biodegradable and/or recycled materials, and brands that pay a fair wage.
Labels like Fair Trade, Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS), and Oeko-Tex all offer some measure of assurance that what you are buying is having less of a negative environmental impact.
Perhaps the most important thing you can do to create a slow fashion wardrobe is to slow down and think before clicking ‘buy now.’ Taking your time and being mindful of what you truly need — and what you don’t — will automatically lead to less consumption and a healthier planet.