Ever since I’ve started living a more sustainable and minimalist life, I’ve become more and more aware of the impact my things have on the environment.
I’ve also realized that I had a lot of clothes. Like, a lot!
I still own more clothes than I would like to, but that is because I like them and want to wear them until I no longer can.
I try to do things as sustainably as possible, which means that I will not discard a clothing piece that I still love and that is still wearable.
Also, many of my clothes show some signs of wear, so I would not be able to donate or sell them.
That is why I’m committed to wearing them until they are worn out.
However, even though I still own some fast fashion clothes that I bought a couple of years ago, I decided that I do not want to support fast fashion brands anymore.
Thanks to my blog and freelance writing, I did a lot of research on the impact of fast fashion on the planet and people.
And in the end, I simply decided to quit buying fast fashion.
In this blog post, I am giving you a few reasons why we should all quit fast fashion.
You will also learn about some tips to help you do it and have a slower, more sustainable approach to fashion.
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What is fast fashion?
Fast fashion refers to all the clothing, shoes, and accessories that are produced in unsustainable and unethical ways.
When we look at how these fashion items are made, everything is done very “fast”.
Clothes are produced extremely quickly. It is not so surprising that clothing production has doubled since 2000!
The products are poorly made, and most pieces fall apart after a few months or weeks, which makes consumers buy new clothes again very soon.
Fast fashion brands also launch a new collection every few weeks, if not every few days, which is insane.
When are we supposed to wear all these clothes?!
They are tricking us into buying more and more, and making us believe that we do not have enough.
They want us to think that we need to constantly update our wardrobes.
Their business models are everything but sustainable, and they are highly unethical.
Why should you quit fast fashion?
1. Fast fashion is destroying the planet
Fast fashion negatively impacts the environment on so many levels!
We need to take into account the whole supply chain of garment production, from the extraction of raw materials and production, to the transportation and after-life of textiles.
Since fast fashion brands want to lower their costs as much as possible, they do not pay attention to how polluting and wasteful their production process is.
Their priority is to make profits, no matter if it’s at the cost of the planet.
First of all, it is estimated that textile production is contributing more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined.
It accounts for around 10% of the world’s carbon emissions.
The fashion industry is also the world’s second-largest consumer of water.
For instance, it takes around 2,000 gallons of water to create a single pair of jeans, which is huge!
Using so much water is an issue because water is becoming rarer and we should take action to preserve it as much as we can.
Textile dyes and solvents are a large source of pollution. They contain hazardous chemicals and are usually dumped into water streams and nature.
The textile sector also uses huge quantities of pesticides, accounting for 10 to 20% of all pesticide use worldwide.
Depletion of natural resources and destruction of ecosystems
Producing such an important amount of clothes around the world each year contributes to the depletion of natural resources.
Forests are regularly cut down to be able to grow cotton or to raise cattle for their wool or leather. This leads to biodiversity loss and displacement of local fauna.
Fast fashion contributes to the huge global waste problem we have today.
Did you know that the average American throws away 81 pounds of clothing each year?
Since clothing is made very cheaply, it doesn’t last. It means that all this textile quickly becomes waste, and up to 85% ends up in landfills each year.
We also need to mention that fast fashion brands are regularly caught destroying their unsold inventory.
They are intentionally burning or cutting perfectly wearable clothes instead of donating them to charities or people in need.
Fast fashion brands usually use unsustainable materials to make their clothes, like polyester, nylon, or cotton.
Synthetic fabrics are energy-intensive and made from oil, which is the most polluting industry in the world.
When synthetic fabrics are washed, they shed microplastics which will take hundreds of years to decompose in the ocean.
It is estimated that each year, washing our clothes releases around 500,000 tons of microfibers into the ocean. This is mind-blowing!
Finally, each year, so many clothes are bought worldwide that thrift stores receive unmanageable quantities of clothing.
As they do not have enough room to store this huge inventory, they often need to discard the excess.
Or the clothes are sent to developing countries, where this abundance of cheap clothes is destroying the local garment industries.
The documentary The True Cost is an amazing resource to learn more about how the fashion industry, particularly fast fashion, is harming the environment.
It will make you want to quit fast fashion for sure! I highly recommend that you watch it!
2. Fast fashion has harmful impacts on workers
Fast fashion is also impacting farmers and people that work in garment factories.
Textile production for fast fashion brands is usually done in developing countries where labor is very cheap, like Bangladesh, Cambodia, or Indonesia.
Factories in these countries employ thousands of people, mostly women, to produce huge quantities of clothes.
The main issue is that human and labor rights are regularly violated, and workers are rarely paid a living wage.
It means that women working in garment factories usually struggle to feed their families, not to mention to pay for education and healthcare.
The working conditions in textile factories are also regularly inhumane and unfair.
Workers are compelled to work overtime, and women are often verbally or physically abused.
Workers rarely have access to paid leaves and they usually work in unsafe buildings.
For instance, more than 1,100 garment workers were killed in the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, back in 2013.
Workers and farmers also work with hazardous chemicals that are very toxic to human health.
Being in contact with so many chemicals leads to various injuries or diseases such as burns, respiratory and skin issues, immune-system disruption, and cancer.
Finally, child labor is not uncommon in garment factories.
According to the International Labor Organization, around 170 million children around the world are engaged in child labor. A large part of those work for the textile industry.
Not only are children working in unhealthy and unsafe conditions, but they are also not going to school, which impacts their whole life afterward.
3. Fast fashion clothes are a waste of money
Another reason why you should quit fast fashion is that these clothes are a waste of money.
Fast fashion clothing usually only lasts a few months. It is not designed and made to last.
When I buy a new piece of clothing, I want it to last for years and years without developing signs of wear like holes or pilling.
I don’t want to have a misshapen sweater or ripped pants after a season.
But with fast fashion clothes, you generally need to repurchase a replacement for an item very quickly.
And with time, all those extra costs add up.
Yes, initially, the item may be cheaper than most high-quality clothing.
But in the long run, you end up spending a lot more if you constantly need to rebuy poor-quality clothing compared to if you only stick to well-made clothes that last for years.
A few simple tips to quit fast fashion and embrace slow fashion
For all those reasons, I highly recommend that you quit fast fashion, and instead choose to support slow fashion.
Doing so is not complicated and does not mean you need to break the bank. There are easy solutions for all budgets that you can try.
a. Shop your closet
An easy way to avoid supporting fast fashion brands when you think you need to buy a new item of clothing is to simply reassess what you already have and shop your closet.
This is especially true if you are used to purchasing fast fashion and already have many clothes in your wardrobe.
Sometimes, we don’t realize what we have and forget about certain items. Some might be hidden at the back of our closet.
So it’s time to dig them out to see if they are what we need and to prevent ourselves from buying a duplicate.
b. Buy second-hand clothes
When you buy something used, you are not increasing the demand for new products to be made, and you are preventing pre-loved items from being discarded.
Plus, second-hand items, especially clothing, are a lot cheaper and your money is not supporting fast fashion brands. It’s a win-win situation!
There are many ways you can purchase clothes second-hand.
You can look for clothing online on Facebook Marketplace, Facebook groups in your local area, eBay, or buy-and-sell websites.
You can also visit thrift stores or consignment stores in your city.
Garage sales are another great option where you can find really good deals on clothes!
c. Support sustainable brands
This one might not be for people who are on a very tight budget because sustainable brands tend to be more expensive than fast fashion brands or second-hand clothes.
The price tag is usually higher because workers in the supply chain are not underpaid, but are offered a fair wage and good working conditions.
You are also paying for higher quality, and the brand has taken action to minimize its environmental impact.
All these steps mean that the final price is higher.
But as I said earlier, buying a high-quality piece of clothing that will last for years will usually end up being cheaper in the long run.
So if you have the means to save up for a clothing item from a sustainable brand, this is a great eco-friendly option for you.
Some sustainable brands even offer affordable options, and many regularly offer discounts on their products.
So quit fast fashion and try to support ethical brands if you can.
To make sure a brand is eco-friendly, check if it uses sustainable materials, such as organic cotton, linen, hemp, or recycled polyester.
Sustainable brands often have certifications like Fairtrade or OEKO-TEX Standard 100.
Plus, they are very transparent about how their products are made and where.
- 20 sustainable clothing brands you’ll feel good about supporting
- 14 sustainable sweaters to keep you warm and cozy all winter long
- 14 sustainable shoe brands for an eco-friendly footprint
- 13 sustainable swimwear brands for a fun, eco-friendly summer
- 9 sustainable winter coats & jackets for braving the cold & staying toasty
d. Borrow, rent or swap clothes with your friends
If you need an item of clothing and cannot find what you’re looking for second-hand or on sustainable brands’ websites, do not rush to the nearest fast fashion brand.
There are still plenty of other options for you!
For instance, you can organize a clothing swap with your friends.
It’s a fun way to update your wardrobe, find new pieces for free and declutter your unused clothes.
If you only need a piece for one specific event, why don’t you borrow it from a friend or family member?
There are even renting services online where you can rent the exact clothing item you want.
e. Think through your purchases
When you think you need to buy new clothing, pause and think through the purchase. Ask yourself crucial questions:
- Do you really need it?
- How many times will you wear it?
- Can you wear it with many other clothes in your wardrobe?
- How well is it made?
- Is it your style?
- Does it fit you perfectly?
- Is it flattering?
f. Wear your clothes for as long as you can
Quitting fast fashion and embracing slow fashion means that you will keep your clothes for longer.
Wear them until they are worn out.
This is not only reducing the environmental impact of your clothes, but also preventing you from needing to buy new clothing very regularly.
At the end of your clothes’ life, see if you can fix them before getting rid of them.
For instance, you could easily sew up small holes in your socks or fix a button that fell off a shirt.
There are so many tutorials online that can help you learn basic skills like sewing or repairing your clothes!
You don’t even need to buy a sewing machine to do so!
And if you do not want to do it yourself, you can still go to a tailor, or to a cobbler to repair your shoes.
When your clothing is worn-out beyond repair, try upcycling it.
For example, you could easily turn ripped pants into shorts by cutting off the legs or use old t-shirts as cleaning rags.
g. Take care of your clothes
A final tip that will help you embrace slow fashion is to take good care of your clothing to make it last longer.
For instance, avoid washing your clothes when they are not dirty, and wash them in cold water.
This will make them last a lot longer, and you will save a lot of energy at the same time!
Also, try to avoid using tumble dryers and air dry your clothes instead.
You can do it outside if you have a garden or balcony (and if it is allowed), or simply inside using a drying rack.
Plus, it means that you won’t have to buy dryer sheets anymore!
As I said earlier, I still own some fast-fashion pieces that I bought years ago.
These pieces have somehow held up pretty well and stood the test of time. That is because I always make sure to take good care of my clothing.
Doing so really extends the life of your clothes, which is one of the best things you can do if you want to have a more sustainable wardrobe!
The fashion industry, particularly fast fashion, is negatively impacting the environment and workers.
This massive, fast-paced production of clothing causes air, water and soil pollution, and contributes to climate change and deforestation.
It creates poorly-made products that will quickly add to the global waste problem.
There are also regular human and labor rights violations, and workers are rarely paid a fair wage. Not to mention that they often work in unsafe and unhealthy conditions!
Thankfully, we do not have to support this industry and we can decide to quit fast fashion for good.
Shopping second-hand, supporting sustainable brands, and wearing the clothes you already have for as long as you can are some of the best ways to embrace slow fashion.
How are you taking action to quit fast fashion? What has helped you transition to slow fashion?