Ethical fashion is the future of fashion

Consider how much clothing you have in your closet. Now consider how much of it you actually wear. If you’re like me, and a vast majority of other clothing owners, then you probably wear less than 50% of what you own on a regular basis. We are increasingly spending more of our time and money buying things we wear only once and letting them sit in our closets - but why?

For one, it’s fun to shop frequently and frequently have something new to wear. Shopping can often fulfill an emotional, creative need we didn’t even know we had. Shopping allows us to dream up different ways we’re going to wear an item and where we’re going to go. We dream about what memories we’re going to create all while in a new fun pair of shoes, or a trendy jacket. So much of our consumption is to serve the idea of what our future self will be like, whether that be our future self next Saturday or our future self next season. These purchases that unleash our imagination make frequent shopping trips seem worth it since we often fail to consider the true cost of this overconsumption. Namely, the cost to our environment.

The fashion industry is one of the world’s most polluting industries next to the fuel and agriculture industries according to Eco Experts UK. The leading contributor to fashion's colossal environmental footprint are the fast fashion brands we all love so much. Fast fashion is a financially accessible branch of the fashion industry home to brands that present a slew of new on trend products every week fuelling consumers’ endless need to buy more and more items, prizing quantity or quality. Fast fashions affordability promises a constant flow of new items to be trotted all over one's social media adding to its appeal. These garments are often made with inexpensive fabrics not meant to last which in turn, brings shoppers back for more clothing that they are unlikely to wear for years to come.

With fast fashion’s high clothing turn over, more and more clothing items and materials are ending up in landfills. In late 2019, Eco Experts UK stated that fashion production made up 10% of the world’s carbon emissions and 20% of wastewater. On their website, the UN notes that 10,000 litres of water is needed to grow the cotton required for the production of just one pair of jeans. The UN also points out that it would take one person ten years to drink 10,000 litres of water.

So how can we help combat this problem while still enjoying the creativity shopping inspires?

1. Discover local vintage / consignment stores. One of the best ways to buy designer items at a reasonably affordable price is buying consignment. Last year I bought two classic designer shirts (Victoria Beckham and Chloe) for a fraction of their original cost and I’ll have them forever.

2. Edit what you already own. If you’re looking for a black sleeveless dress and realize you have a black long sleeve dress that you rarely wear, consider altering the sleeve length and turn your old dress into one that’s new. This strategy saves  you a trip to the store, and money. 

3. Shop each other's closets! One of my best finds as of recently came from browsing through my 81 year-old grandmother’s closet. I came across a blue and green floral print jacquard jacket and dress set that she wore in 1964 on her honeymoon. The set hasn’t been worn in over 40 years but I’m giving new life to it by adding it to my closet and turning the dress into a skirt. 

My grandmother’s jacket from the 1960s 

Just because we should cut back on our fast fashion spending, doesn’t mean we need to give up having fun with fashion.

 This post was written by Taryn Potasky for NOBL Thirst. You can follow Taryn on Instagram @tarynpotasky

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