If you gathered all the garments you bought in a year, how would you stack up compared to the average? Do your purchases amount to a neat pile of carefully considered items – or are you staring at a mountain of clothes that you can barely remember buying, let alone wearing? If you’re closer to the latter, chances are you could stand to rein in your fast fashion habit.
‘Fast fashion’ is defined as cheap, mass-produced clothing designed to cater to the latest trends, and it’s having a huge impact on the environment. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, clothing production has approximately doubled in the last 15 years, while the annual value of clothing discarded prematurely is worth billions.
Fashion is also the second most polluting industry (after oil), and produces nearly 20 percent of waste water globally. But with social media creating pressure on people to look good and have an endless supply of new outfits to post online, is it any wonder fast fashion is spiraling out of control? So, in a bid to help you reduce your fashion footprint, here are six ways to cut back on wasteful purchases and shop more sustainably.
Limit Your Exposure to Influencers
A new survey by Fashion Retail Academy reveals that more than half (54 percent) of people believe social media influencers have at least partly caused a rise in this type of clothing, a figure that’s even higher (73 percent) for 18 to 24 year olds. The study also found that Instagram is a source of fashion inspiration for 17 percent of people, up from 8 percent five years ago.
Being bombarded daily with enviable images of stylish people – and now with the option to shop directly from their Instagram posts – is a sure-fire way to make you want to hit ‘buy now’, so try to limit your exposure to influencers. Whether that means unfollowing accounts that post daily #outfitinspo pics or cutting back on time spent on social media sites, you’ll reduce the temptation to shop the latest flash-in-the-pan trends.
Choose Quality, Not Quantity
The very nature of fast fashion means these clothes aren’t designed to last. Made from cheap materials, they often come apart at the seams or stretch beyond repair after just a couple of wears, which is why so much clothing ends up in landfills every year.
To prevent needless waste, try to buy higher quality clothing that will last longer. It may be more expensive, but a cashmere jumper in a classic cut will serve you for years to come, as opposed to a flimsy polyester top – the threads will come loose and the neckline will stretch out in no time.
Try a Fashion Fast
The shopping equivalent of going cold turkey, a fashion fast means committing to not buying any new clothes for a certain amount of time – it could be a month, three months, or even a year. Quitting shopping will force you to reassess what you already own and find new ways to style existing outfits. This is the perfect time to do a Marie Kondo-style clear out. You might be surprised what you discover when you go ‘shopping’ in your own wardrobe.
Go ‘Swishing’, Not Shopping
‘Swishing’ events are public clothes swaps, where you bring your clean, unwanted clothes for donation and take your pick from others’ pre-loved garments. Some are free, while others charge for entry. Either way, this is a trend on the rise.
Arrange a Clothes Swap of Your Own
Chances are that you and your friends have similar taste in fashion, so why not hold a clothes swap party of your own? Here’s how to do it fairly. Gather all the clothing and set aside some time for browsing and trying on, say half an hour. Next, go round the group and take it in turns to choose one item at a time. If more than one person is keen on a garment, you could always arrange to swap it at the next event. Sharing is caring, after all.
Shop for Secondhand Clothes
There are so many ways to say no to high street chains and find good quality secondhand clothes. Vintage stores are great because the stock is curated to fit current trends. Online, eBay is a treasure trove for retro bargains and unworn secondhand pieces – look for ‘BNWT’ on listings, which means ‘bought new with tags’. Depop, meanwhile, is where the cool girls go to sell their unwanted garms so you can snap them up.