Last Friday I went to a clothes swap at The Sustainable Studio, a new creative warehouse in Cardiff. It was my first one, even though I’ve heard a lot about them and it really got me thinking about my shopping habits. As much as I’m more sustainable than most; thanks to a deep love for charity shops and vintage clothes, I still leave a lot to be desired in the sustainability stakes.
I do however, have a real appreciation for clothes, especially well made ones and the thought of them being thrown away makes me feel a little bit ill. Something like 300,000 tonnes of clothing goes into landfill every year, a fact which is hard to get your head around. I studied fashion and I have such a love and admiration for the design and manufacturing process that I don’t get two things. The first, is that people buy awfully made, cheap, ill-fitting clothes and the second, is that they throw them in the bin after wearing them.
Some of my most loved pieces are things that have been handed down to me from my grandmothers. Brands like Louis Ferraud, Escada and Mondi that are so well made I’ll likely be able to pass them onto my grandchildren too. But for a generation of fast fashion addicts, we won’t be holding onto a lot. In fact, I doubt a dress from BooHoo would even make it through one cycle in the wash let alone a few generations.
I could get really into how the fashion industry is killing the planet but I want to keep this way more simple. These tips are easy to follow, small changes, that if we all adopted could make a big difference. I’m not saying that you have to be a total environmental warrior (we all need a fashion pick me up sometimes and I get it) but what we can be, is more mindful with our purchases from now on.
Well duh. Charity shops are the best way to save a lot of clothes from ending up in landfill while supporting a good cause. Whether you’re buying or donating you’ll be doing more good than picking up something new and you’ll save yourself a lot of money too. I’ve found some amazing things in charity shops, like designer clothes and cashmere jumpers that cost nothing so I couldn’t recommend them more.
Invest In Something Well Made
When was the last time you really invested in a piece of clothing? I’m guessing not recently, as more and more of us are getting sucked into the fast fashion cycle. Rather than picking up lots of cheap items it’s way better to save up for a few months and buy a piece that will last forever. Eco Age have actually started a #30wears campaign which encourages people to think about whether they’ll wear an item at least 30 times before buying it. That’s definitely something to bear in mind when eyeing up a pink puffa jacket on Missguided…
Second-Hand Clothing Shops
A great way to shop sustainably is by buying second-hand clothing. There are dedicated sites for this like Micolet where all the clothes are carefully selected so they are in great condition and always low in price. This website features clothes that are new or nearly new, but no longer wanted, so it’s a great way to recycle pieces in your wardrobe too.
Shop Your Own Wardrobe
If you get the urge to shop then I highly recommend heading home instead and rummaging through your own wardrobe. We’ve all got way more than we need and chances are there are a few pieces at the back that you’ve totally forgotten about. Knowing what’s in your wardrobe will help you to be more informed when you’re shopping and you’ll only pick up what you need. That way you’ll weed out a lot of unnecessary purchases and will save yourself some money too.
Take A Carrier Bag With You
This is SO BASIC but something as small as taking your own tote bag will avoid you having to get a plastic one. I bet you’ve all got a canvas tote shoved somewhere and it’s worth keeping it in your bag for whenever you going shopping. It’s really small changes like this that can make a big difference and remove the need for stores to buy carrier bags in the first place.
Go To A Clothes Swap
I went to my first clothes swap last weekend and it was honestly so much fun. It’s basically a pop up shop where everyone who attends takes clothes with them and swaps them for someone else’s. That way everyone gets something new without anyone actually having to buy anything. It’s all the excitement of shopping but it’s totally guilt free and you can do this on a small scale by swapping clothes with your friends.
I hope you found these quick tips useful and that you’re feeling a little more inspired to rebel against fast fashion. As much as I love clothes, I’m definitely starting to think more about the purchases I make and I’ll definitely try and stick to these points as much as possible!