Updated: Feb 10
BY STEFANY GOMEZ
You have made up your mind. You are going to stop consuming fast fashion once and for all. From now on, you will only buy in second-hand stores and from eco-friendly brands.
Or that’s what you said until you realized that there aren’t any thrift stores in your area and that a single piece of clothing from a sustainable brand costs you the same as five sweaters in Forever 21.
You realize that everything will be more difficult than you expected. Inevitably, the question arrives: is it possible to be ethical in a world full of consumerism and trends?
If you find yourself immersed in this dilemma, let me tell you that you’re not the only one. Many of the people just starting in the sustainable lifestyle fear the same question. Including me.
And it’s true that depending on where you live, the context that surrounds you and the money that you’re able to spend can make it easier or harder, but the answer remains the same. Yes, it is possible.
Living in a developing country where sustainability is not a popular word and resources are limited, I’ve found it pretty challenging to start changing my habits. So, if I can do it, you can do it too. Here are a few tips on how to start.
1. Buy less
The average person wears only 20% of their clothes. So no, you don’t need that sparkly dress with feathers until you’re sure that you’ll wear it at least 30 times (the number of uses that it takes to make up for the environmental damage) or until you’re sure that it won’t end up in a landfill. Buying responsibly will not only help the cause, but it will also save you money.
2. Give a second life to your clothes
Why throw away your favorite pair of jeans because of a coffee stain? Recycling doesn’t have to be a boring process. You can paint, sew, fix or alter your old clothes however you want. Your creativity is the limit!
3. Shop second-hand
We all have heard of thrift stores. Full of hidden gems and vintage treasures. Second-hand clothes can be really stylish if you pick the correct pieces. Plus, they’re cheap. Sadly, physical thrift stores are not everywhere.
If you have a hard time trying to find one close to you, look up for websites and apps that offer the same service. Depop, Etsy, and Swap are just a few of the many pages that you should check out if you want to thrift online.
But if you are like me and none of those options are available in your country (or the shipping is too expensive), Instagram pages have your back. Closet sales and online-based second-hand stores work as good as any other page. They have a very low shipping cost and you have the choice to pick up the product in person in an encounter point if you prefer it.
4. Buy local
Not everyone can afford sustainable brands, and fast fashion (because of their low prices) seems to be the only option. But it really isn’t.
Small businesses and local brands cannot be exactly sustainable, but they generate a lot less pollution than big enterprises by using local materials and wasting less in transportation. In a way, they are “slow fashion”; they don’t rush into creating new trends every week and produce only the necessary until depleting stock. It’s also a way to help independent stores, entrepreneurs and the local economy.
5. Inform yourself
If you have any doubts about a certain brand, don’t be afraid to ask. Check their website, recent news about them, stalk their social media accounts, look where the materials come from, or ask them directly who made their clothes and how.
Being sustainable isn’t about following rules and feeling guilty every time you can’t achieve them. There’s not only one solution or one path to follow. Discover your own way and how you can be sustainable!
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