The fast fashion industry is one of the highest polluting industries globally. Australians are the second-largest consumers of fashion with a whopping 6,000 kilograms of fashion and textile waste being dumped in landfill every 10 minutes.
‘Fast fashion’ is somewhat of a buzzword - one we’ve all heard by now. So with the consequences of the fast fashion industry being so devastating and so widely publicised, why are we consuming more and faster than ever?
Simple: fast fashion is addictive - it’s designed to be.
According to the developers behind ethical fashion app Good On You, fast fashion culture feeds into the idea that re-wearing items is a fashion faux pas. By getting mass-produced, cheap clothes on the shelves at break-neck speed, they can be snapped up by consumers at the height of the trend, before being discarded after a couple of wears.
We need only interrupt our scrolling for a couple of minutes to buy That New Dress without even leaving the app and get that sugary high that comes with clicking ‘add to cart’.
It’s what Eco Styles founder Nina Gbor refers to as the ‘fashion trend-mill’ - and it’s time for us all to jump off. So, what are some steps we can all start taking today?
1. Challenge the throwaway mentality
The first step requires some personal reflection and unpacking. Why do we chase the fashion trends? Why would we never be caught ‘outfit repeating’? Why do we demand we pay $5 for our t-shirts when we know they were made in unethical, unsustainable and unsafe sweatshops?
Over the past decade there has been a growing awareness of the impacts of purchasing and consumption by consumers. However, ethically minded consumers rarely purchase ethical products. There are so many factors that discourage consumers from making ethical choices when it comes to their wardrobe – mostly, affordability and convenience. But getting off the fashion trend-mill and building a more sustainable wardrobe can be cheap and easy enough to fit in anyone’s budget and schedule.
But you don't have to give up clothes and fashion all together - fret not. With a little more thought and awareness, you can make ethical choices and choose brands that support the environment. A great start is downloading the sustainable clothing app Good On You, an easy tool to keep tabs on your favourite brands and how they rank in terms of sustainability and ethics in their production chain.
Image source: Good On You app
2. Get crafty
If you’re the creative type, the possibilities for upcycling and making your own clothes are endless! By tailoring, altering, and mending your clothes, you can make sure you get the maximum amount of wear out of them. Great for you AND for your wallet.
Fancy yourself a seamstress? Has your family got an old sewing machine around collecting dust? This is the perfect opportunity to give some of your old clothes a new lease on life.
For inspiration on upcycling your old items and sewing some basics, there are plenty of easy-to-follow tutorials online for creating clothes you’ll be able to wear again and again. Check out Aussie bloggers Collective Gen and The Essentials Club for some cute and fun DIY clothing tutorials.
3. Host or attend a clothes swap
This one is ideal for uni students who are strapped for cash – you get to clean out your wardrobe, catch up with mates AND get some new clothes, for free!? Sign me up!
A clothes swap can take many forms. The idea is for all attendees to bring some things they no longer wear, and then everyone goes ‘shopping’ through each other’s donated items. Ask everyone to bring a plate to share and make it into a party. Win win!
4. Make some cash by selling online
Apps like Depop and Poshmark are well on the rise among younger generations wanting to rehome old clothes and make a quick buck. Gone are the days of needing carboot sales and markets stalls to move your old clothes – snap and quick pic and upload it to an app with millions of users scrolling through. It’s a great way to rehome your clothes to someone who is actually going to wear them.
Image source: ljean5 on depop
5. Mindfully op shop
Image source: Lilly Walsh
Lastly, op shops are a great way to both find some second-hand goods for yourself and rehome some clothes you no longer need. But be mindful – much of what is sent to op shops just ends up in landfill. So, when you’re donating, make sure you’re only taking items still in a condition you would be willing to purchase.
Image source: Lilly Walsh