After watching the latest documentary from Stacey Dooley’s recent documentary ‘Stacey Dooley Investigates: Fashion’s Dirty Secrets‘ and reading up on the matter in Vix Meldrew’s blog post, ‘Our Influence on Fast Fashion‘ I’ve been thinking about my own shopping habits when it comes to clothes and fashion.
In ‘Stacey Dooley Investigates: Fashion’s Dirty Secrets‘, we see Stacey walking on the dusty, drained seabed of what used to be the Aral Sea, a massive inland sea that cotton production has sucked dry. We’re then taken to Indonesia, where the toxic waste from hundreds of factories is pumped straight into the river used by locals to wash, drink and cook. It’s shocking.
Hands up, I’m a “fast fashion” shopper. I love retail therapy and the more bargains, the better. But after just scratching the surface of the environmental impact this attitude has, I’ve realised I’m a HUGE part of the problem.
But the issue lies, for myself as well as for many others, in the attractiveness of cheap price tags. I don’t have the money for expensive clothes but I love buying new things, which leads to me purchasing items I don’t need at a price that doesn’t do too much damage to my bank account. It’s as simple as that.
So how do we fix this? I’m not a high earner (and won’t be anytime soon) and I can’t see high-quality ethical stores dropping their prices to my level. Trying to be more ethically aware on a budget is hard, but we’ve got to start believing that it’s doable if we all just put in a little more effort.
These are just a few ways I think I could be more ethically aware when it comes to my shopping behaviours, whilst still enjoying fashion and still living within my means. It’s going to be hard to kick the fast fashion habit but I’m going to give it a shot – maybe some of these will work for you too?
Rotate your clothes.
I did this recently and couldn’t believe it! I dug out every t-shirt bundled up in my wardrobe and discovered tops I haven’t worn since we moved into our flat – a year and a half ago! I’m lazy, so I always just pick the same old things from the top of the pile and other clothes remain buried at the bottom. I took out every item, folded them up, put the ones I usually wear at the bottom and the ones I’d forgotten about at the top. Now it feels like I’ve got loads of options, they feel practically new again, and I’m actually making use of my entire wardrobe.
Don’t throw out old clothes.
Feeling generous? Donating old clothes to charity is, of course, the best option. But getting rid of a huge pile of clothes if they’re in pretty good nick can feel like a total waste of money, especially if you just chuck them out. To keep your clothes out of landfill, ensure your clothes have a new lease of life and make a buck or two, you can always resell them. Ebay, or the newly popular Depop, are great options. You can earn a little extra dollar and also make sure your clothes go somewhere much better than the dustbin – both of which are very rewarding.
Try not to shop unless you need something.
Most of us buy clothes not out of necessity, but because something in a shop window catches our eye and we fancy treating ourselves. It’s exactly this kind of attitude that leads to the fast fashion industry churning out new lines at low prices and an exceptionally high volume, and that’s what we need to change. If you struggle with that notion, consider the harm you’re doing to your wallet; think of the money you could save if you only bought new clothes when you needed to. It’s a way to be kinder to the planet and your savings.
Use the money you’ve saved from shopping less to buy from more ethical stores.
I’m not saying expensive = ethical. But we can probably all agree that the cheaper high street chains contribute to a lot of the damage done by fast fashion. Thanks to the conscious effort that goes into ethical clothing, these items tend to be a little more expensive than budget stores – which is why a lot of us don’t buy from them. But, if we go back to the above point and try to only shop when we need to, we could use the money saved from this to purchase one-off pieces from ethical shops. Forcing ourselves to reign in our shopping sprees to less frequent, more expensive purchases is going to be tough, but could make a real difference. Plus, these items are likely to be more unique, more comfortable and more long-lasting.
Buy clothes second-hand.
If you sell things second-hand, you should definitely consider shopping second-hand too. Charity shops are well-known for harbouring hidden gems; if you’re willing to overlook a little wear and tear you could stumble across some fabulous bargains and gorgeous clothes, guilt-free! Obviously money spent in charity shops goes to a good cause but if you really can’t find what you’re looking for, loads of websites resell thousands of second-hand clothes in great condition at low prices too.