We talk a lot on our blog and during #EthicalHour about why it’s important to give up fast fashion, but we don’t always consider how to do it.
For fashion junkies (me included!) it’s not the easiest lifestyle change to make, but it is an important one.
The Rana Plaza collapse of 2013 triggered calls for a Fashion Revolution and brought the poor working conditions of overseas garment factories into the global spotlight.
The fashion industry is the second biggest polluter in the world and behind the rush to bring ever-changing catwalk trends to the high street are stories of child labour, unsafe conditions and exploitative garment factories.
Even when you know the truth, it can be tempting to pick up a £20 dress or a £5 t-shirt when you’ve spent most of your life following fast fashion trends.
The high street allows us to stay stylish on a budget. Picking out new clothes is an expression of our creativity. As a society, we purchase 400 percent more clothes today than we did just two decades ago.
It’s easy for the big fashion brands to hide their less-than-ethical secrets and unless you’re really committed to becoming a conscious consumer and engaging with the latest news from the ethical fashion industry, it can be all too easy to bury your head in the sand.
But if fashion is our way of expressing ourselves, the clothes we wear say something about who we are, and shouldn’t that include our ethics too? Are you really comfortable wearing something cheap that someone else has suffered for?
Once you ask yourself that, the desire to dress more ethically overtakes the desire to follow fast fashion trends.
But many of the people talking about fashion’s dark side are celebrities, niche bloggers and ultra-conscious consumers who seem the have a lot more time, knowledge and resources to invest in their ethical lifestyles. Or so it seems when you first start.
As with any major lifestyle change, it can be daunting.
Ethical fashion still needs to fit with the rest of your lifestyle, and importantly, your budget.
Dressing ethically can feel like one of those lofty goals – like waking up early to do yoga, or skipping your morning coffee for lemon water. You know it’s good for you, but it’s not necessarily the most practical change.
So how can you give up fast fashion?
The important thing to remember is that, like any major lifestyle change, it’s a process.
It won’t happen overnight and you won’t always stick to it right away. But if you remind yourself why you started, keep your motivation as your focus and find yourself a support network, you’re much more likely to succeed.
Remember that as a consumer you have a lot of power.
Yes, one person boycotting a high street brand won’t change things overnight, but if we all take small steps then together we can have a huge impact. It’s true, every time you spend your money you’re casting a vote for the type of world you want to live in.
Building ethical fashion into your sense of identity is another important step. Clothes are a form of expression and we each have our own style. Make sure yours reflects your values too.
Once you start thinking of ethical fashion in this way, you’ll become more actively involved in it without even realising.
The time you spend reading about ethical issues, upcycling charity shop finds or building your capsule wardrobe won’t feel like a chore, because it’ll become part of your passions.
There’s some amazing bloggers and brands out there keen to connect with ethical consumers and help them on their journey, so don’t be afraid to reach out for support and advice – you’ll even make some great friends along the way! (#EthicalHour is a great place to start, join us on Twitter, Mondays at 8pm BST).
Try not to think of what you’re “giving up” – instead think about the amazing new community you’re becoming a part of. Remember not to let it overwhelm you (check out my tips for getting started with an ethical lifestyle here) and take small steps every day – you’ll be amazed where they take you!
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