Sustainable Fashion: How to Shop Ethically and Reduce Your Environmental Impact
Although it is an integral part of our daily life, fashion has an impact on the environment that cannot be disregarded. From the production of raw materials to the disposal of finished products, the fashion industry has a significant impact on the planet. But the industry isn’t the only one to blame. Our decisions as shoppers also have an impact. Sustainable fashion, also referred to as ethical fashion, is a developing movement that seeks to lessen the fashion industry’s negative environmental effects while promoting ethical work conditions. In this article, we will try to explain what sustainable fashion is, and how you can reduce your environmental impact by shopping ethically.
How Fashion Impacts the Environment
As we have already explained, the fashion industry is a major contributor to environmental degradation. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the fashion industry is the third-largest consumer of water. And not only that, but it also generates 10% of global carbon emissions. Additionally, many synthetic textiles are not biodegradable, leading to significant amounts of waste in landfills.
Even cotton, the most popular fiber used in the fashion industry, is a major contributor to environmental degradation. Cotton production requires significant amounts of water, pesticides, and fertilizers, which can have negative impacts on water resources, soil health, and air quality. And just imagine how much cotton is used each year to produce enough clothing for shoppers worldwide. Pretty crazy, right?
We also can’t forget about fast fashion. Truth be told, most of us have at least one clothing piece from the world’s most popular fast fashion brands like Zara, H&M, or Forever 21. Clothes are produced quickly to follow all of the newest trends, and prices are relatively inexpensive to meet consumer demand. Fast fashion promotes overconsumption, leading to significant amounts of waste and a constant need for new clothing.
What Can You Do?
So, what can consumers do to reduce the environmental impact of fashion? It can be a slippery slope. Especially if you love to follow trends and have some fun with your outfits. However, no matter how much you love fashion and exploring new styles, there are still ways to reduce your environmental impact. Here are some tips for shopping ethically and sustainably.
The number one tip that I can give you is to be as picky as possible when buying new clothes. Don’t buy something just because it’s on sale. It will just collect dust in your closet and harm both the environment and your wallet. Also, be picky when it comes to the stores you are buying from. Buy from sustainable brands. Look for brands that use sustainable materials, such as organic cotton, and have environmentally friendly production processes.
Stick to classics
While it is fun to try out some new trends, try to keep your wardrobe as simple as possible. Invest in classic and quality pieces that can last you for decades. You can add smaller trending pieces to upgrade your outfit, but you still won’t buy nearly as many fast-fashion items as you would normally. Most fast-fashion items fall apart in just a year or two, and end up in your trash, and, eventually, in landfills.
An affordable and easy way to buy more environmentally friendly is to thrift shop! It’s a great way to reduce waste and support the circular economy. Explore your local thrift shops and you might find some hidden treasures. Another great way is to upcycle your own old clothing. You have endless tutorial options available on Pinterest. This can help you build up a new skill, and wear unique and sustainable looks.
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