fashion

How To Commit To Slow Fashion

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We make fashion choices every day. Whether we are buying a new pair of jeans or deciding what to wear to work or a social gathering. What we buy and wear is an integral part of our day-to-day lives. Yet, we rarely stop and think about the impact of our fashion choices on the planet or the people who crafted our garments. According to an article in Forbes, fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world, behind oil and accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions. The impact of the fashion industry on our planet is staggering.

The manufacturing process of polyester consumes 70 million barrels of oil each year.

Polyester is non-biodegradable and takes 200 years to decompose.

Fast fashion garments are worn 5 times on average and kept for only 35 days. They produce over 400% more carbon emissions than garments worn 50 times and kept for a year.

Cheap synthetic fibers emit N2O gasses which are 300 times more noxious than CO2.

a high pollution area

Fibers like rayon, modal and viscose are manufactured are responsible for the cutting of over 70 million trees per year.

Over and above the environmental pollution, there is also severe impact on human welfare. Fast fashion garments are often manufactured in sweatshops with poor working conditions and workers who make less than sustainable wages. The recent news of Zara workers being unpaid for their labours is just one of the horrifying stories about sweatshops in underdeveloped nations. It is no surprise, then, that slow fashion is gaining ground among consumers who are looking to make humane and sustainable fashion choices.

Slow Fashion Movement

Trusted Clothes describes slow fashion as an ethical manufacturing process that puts the welfare of labour and environment at the centre. This means environmentally safe manufacturing processes, fair wages and working conditions for labour and better quality materials.

The net positive for buyers is high-quality products and greater value for money in the long run. Of course, the supply chain becomes more expensive leading to higher ticket prices on the end-products.

Commit to Slow Fashion in 3 Simple Steps –

Of course, we would all like to commit to slow fashion in one giant leap and lead sustainable lives. That is the dream. The truth is somewhat different though. We all have limitations like budgets, financial commitments, over-stocked wardrobes. Committing to slow fashion in a single stride is difficult.

There are, however, some steps we can take immediately to set ourselves on the path to sustainability.

Get more wear out of your clothes.

This is my favourite step and the one that anyone can commit to without any added pressure.

Instead of over-correcting immediately and dumping all your fast fashion clothing (which is not sustainable), try to keep and wear your clothes (and shoes, bags, belts and other accessories) for longer. We already know that the average life of a fast fashion garment is 35 days and 5 uses. Try to extend it as far ahead as possible. Can you wear the garment 10 times, 20 times or even 50 times?

I don’t mean to say that you need to keep a running count of how many times you wore the same garment. An easy trick I follow is to wear every piece in my closet once before I repeat. Depending on the size of your wardrobe, this can go on for a few weeks to a year.

At the end, you will know how many pieces you have and you can go on repeating them without worrying about buying new stuff regularly.

Choose natural fabrics.

natural fabrics hanging on an indoor line

When and if you go shopping for new clothes, check the labels to see the fabric used in manufacturing the garment. Cotton, silk, hemp are your best friends when you want to commit to slow fashion. They are natural fabrics and while they may not be guilt-free, they are definitely better choices than polyester, rayon and the likes.

Natural fabrics are high quality. They are more durable and last longer than synthetics. You can even extend their life further by taking good care of the garments while storing and in your laundry process.

Moreover, natural fabrics are comfortable and, in the case of silk, luxurious. They allow your skin to breathe freely (goodbye body odour). 

Swap and share instead of buying.

Fashion is a $3 trillion industry and one of the reasons it has ballooned so much is because we keep buying and hoarding new clothes (and shoes, accessories etc.) without using them fully. We don’t like to repeat the same outfit several times and feel compelled to have a bigger wardrobe.

a lot of teeshirts lined up

There is an easy fix to that. The next time you feel the urge to wear something different, swap or share instead of buying. You can do this with siblings and BFFs with whom you are comfortable suggesting this as an option. My sister and I live on two different continents, yet we swap pieces every six months or so. This gives us both a newish wardrobe without impacting the planet or our wallets.

Final Words

I wanted to start with a few simple steps that you can incorporate immediately and easily into your lifestyle. These are just a few steps you can take toward ethical and sustainable fashion.

As you start thinking about the impact of your fashion choices, you will realise there is so much you can do to reduce your negative impact.

Do you already do something to help the slow fashion movement? Share your personal tips and let’s discuss.

Cheers,

Juhita Gupta

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