5 ways to become a more ethical fashion shopper


We are all on a quest to do our part to save the planet and not many of us are actually aware of how detrimental the fashion industry is on our environment. If you knew how harmful the fashion industry and our excessive consumer behavior was, then you might actually think twice, when buying another item of clothing, especially something that you don't necessarily need but want.
The fashion industry doesn't make it easy for us though. Fast fashion brands have the resources to replicate any catwalk trend or collection and mass-produce at lower costs and sell on at affordable prices. They also tend to launch countless new collections per year and advertise them relentlessly on social media, paid ads, and tv, making us constantly feel out of date and encouraging us to keep spending. As global consumer demand increases for cheap clothes and new styles, the bigger the impact it has on our environment. 

The “fast fashion” business model | UN Today

Here are few facts about the fashion industry:

  1. The fashion industry produces 10% of all humanity's carbon emissions, is the second-largest consumer of the world's water supply, and pollutes the ocean with microplastics.
  2. The fashion industry is the second largest polluter of clean water globally after agriculture
  3. 60% of fabric fibers are now synthetics (polyester, acrylic, nylon) and are derived from fossil fuels,  so when our clothes end up in a landfill the clothes will not decay nor will the synthetic microfibers that end up in the sea.
  4. Many of those fibers are polyester, a plastic found in an estimated 60% of garments. Producing polyester releases two to three times more carbon emissions than cotton and polyester does not erode in the ocean.
  5. 85% of all textiles go to the dump each year.
  6. On average, people bought 60% more garments in 2014 than they did in 2000.

You might be thinking you're a fashion blogger, shouldn't you be promoting and supporting the fashion industry? 

This I do, but I myself have a bad habit of shopping online and buying unnecessary clothing items just to keep up with trends, to feel good about myself, or just because there's a sale on. There is a reason why they use the term, "Retail therapy" because that is exactly what it is. Whenever I have a bad day at work or in general, I tend to shop online and treat myself, and does it make me feel better? Of course, it does. I've also noticed that this kind of online shopping behavior of mine has gotten worse ever since Covid-19 started. This isn't surprising when we have all been in quarantine for nearly 1 year and also all physical stores are closed. I found that shopping online has become some sort of distraction and pass time activity stemmed from boredom and I tend to use the excuse that I'm helping the economy during the world's worst pandemic.

I'm quite embarrassed to admit to the exact number of clothing items I have bought whilst being in quarantine, items that I can't even wear at home but will look great once the pandemic is over!

Being mindful and conscious of your own shopping behavior is the beginning of changing it and helping the environment! We all need to do our part even during a global pandemic.

Here are a few sustainable fashion tips to follow:

1. Choose quality over quantity

  • Do the planet a favour and buy less cheap clothes and invest in higher quality clothes, classic pieces made from eco-friendly materials. It might cost a little bit more but it will fit better and last longer than three washes. 

2. Wear what you already own

  • What is the point of buying all these clothes and only wearing them once! Some people have gotten into a terrible mindset that they can only be seen in person or on Instagram in an outfit once! This is beyond stupidity and really not eco-friendly. Get creative and style each outfit differently with items that you already own.

3. Reduce the demand for new

  • This can be done by buying less and controlling your shopping behavior. Ask yourself next time you shop, "Do I really NEED this?", think of other ways you can spend the money instead of expanding your wardrobe you could save for a holiday, car, or house! Every penny counts.
  • Shop at secondhand shops, charity shops, thrift and vintage stores. Try thrift-flipping and up-cycling clothing.

4. Keep clothes out of landfills

  • You can do this by selling the clothes you no longer want online, not only are you saving the environment, or giving your clothes to a new happy home, you can also make a profit. 
  • You can also donate your clothes to charity, exchange them with friends and family.
  • Repair or DIY old garments instead of recycling and continuing the buying-purging cycle.

5. Support and shop from sustainable and eco-friendly clothing brands

  • Forget the fast fashion brands and be more ethically aware of how your clothes are made. Do your research, check the clothing label, where was it made, do they support sustainable manufacturing, what fabrics are used?
© Marianna Reid

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