The following blog has been sent in by Claudia Thomas, who has previously written an incredibly insightful piece on homelessness for our site. The subject matter of this blog is sustainable fashion. Claudia touches on how to get more out of your existing clothes (rather than constantly buying new ones), as well as researching the brands you are buying from. Next time you’re shopping, whether it be online or in person, ask yourself: Would this be a company whose actions you want to fund? A timely piece with some great suggestions. You can find Claudia on Instagram: @claudiachatsabout. LW
Living more sustainably is something that we all should be striving towards in 2020. We know the facts, the scary statistics, and can each make a difference by changing our habits in just small ways.
I want to focus specifically on sustainable fashion. In the UK alone, according to clothesaid, 350,000 tonnes of still wearable clothing goes to landfill every year. That number is absolutely shocking! But, now more than ever, we can be the change we want to see in the world. We are more equipped with knowledge of the terrible environmental and political effects fast fashion has, and we can move forward by slowing down. As stated in The Guardian, slow fashion is the only sustainable future for the industry and the planet. I am by no means an expert, but after researching for my own blog series on this topic, I have found the following the most useful in taking the right steps towards combatting fast-fashion, something we should all feel strongly about.
One of the most cost effective ways to work towards more sustainable fashion is by literally wearing the clothes you already own. If you’re bored of how a certain outfit looks, think of all the ways you could re-style what you’ve had sitting in the back of your wardrobe for ages. As tempting as it is to buy, look at current trends and see what clothing you already own that could replicate the vibe, you might discover something entirely new, and a brand new way of working your already owned clothing! Instagram is a really good way of seeing how different styles can be reworked, but equally be careful to not feel pressured by accounts to be constantly be buying more and more.
Shop second-hand where possible. This point comes from an extremely privileged point of view, but shopping second-hand on websites such as Depop, Vinted, and Ebay are great ways to recycle clothing. I find the most straightforward way of navigating these sites is to type in the brand you are looking for and going from there, as it removes the aimless scrolling through various clothing that might not be your style. You’re broadening your search and can hopefully find what you’re looking for. Clothing on these sites is usually discounted from its original price too, so it really is a win win!
Charity shops are also a great way of buying second-hand as these prices are again often discounted and in support of great charities. A large variety of what you will find in charity shops will depend on time, size, and location, again an enormous privilege, a charity shop in the Northern Quarter is probably going to have a lot more variety of brands than a local one in your village.
Try and research the brands that you are buying from where possible, with everything being online these days it only takes a few minutes. Questions we can all ask ourselves to be more conscientious consumers is ‘where did my clothes come from’ and ‘who made my clothes?’ When we start thinking about the issues, that is when we will start to see changes.
It’s all about little changes, a large group of people doing a little will make a bigger difference than one person doing a lot. Don’t feel guilty if you can’t commit to strict sustainable fashion all of the time, (who can?) but perhaps challenge yourself to not buy anything unnecessarily for a month, and make use of the clothing you already own. Think of all the money you would save, as well as the environmental impact! I know Oxfam currently have a scheme entitled Second hand September where you take the pledge to not buy any new clothing for the whole of September, including tips and tricks on how to make your clothing last longer. Definitely something to consider!
For further tips and tricks, I’d also suggest reading this article, 20 ways to stop buying new clothes forever.