...Fashion, Sustainable Living

Easy Alternatives to Fast Fashion

Fast fashion feels like it’s everywhere, and it’s easy to think that the fashion industry has always been this way but it is actually a relatively new phenomenon:

We are consuming 400% more clothes now than we did just 20 years ago (that’s the late 1990’s!)

And that increase in consumption comes at a cost:

  • The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry on the planet, second only to fossil fuels
  • It is responsible for 3% of total global CO2 emissions
  • 150 billion items of clothing are made each year, and in the USA 36kg of clothes per person are thrown away.

The cost of clothes has come down hugely in recent years, and sadly clothes are now sometimes seen as disposable – some people quite literally buy cheap High St clothes with no intention of ever washing them and wearing again – they buy them to wear once and then throw away.
But as cheap as our clothes now are, someone somewhere is paying the price.
And in the case of fast fashion, it is the garment workers, and the planet, that suffer.

The good news is that because we all need to wear clothes, we have the power to create change by making different choices about the garments we wear and buy and there are actually lots of easy options for side-stepping fast fashion and not contributing to the demand.

How many items do you have in your wardrobe that you’ve hardly ever worn?
How many items do you wear regularly?
You might be surprised to find things that you had forgotten about lurking at the bottom of your drawers, or pushed to the back of your wardrobe.

Check out your local charity shops, vintage shops, and even jumble sales to see if you can find the things you need or want to fill the gaps in your wardrobe.
If you’re looking for specific brands then eBay is a great option – just remember to tick the ‘used’ box under ‘Condition’ in the sidebar on the left hand side.

Swishing is basically a fancy pants name for a clothes swapping party.
You can have a look on sites like Swishing.com to see if you can find anything local to you, or get a few friends together and run one at home!

There’s some tips for running your own swish right here.

Livia Firth recommends that when we’re thinking of buying a new outfit we ask ourselves “Will I wear this 30 times?”

And if you won’t, then don’t buy it.
I don’t know about you but I really don’t venture out to posh events and weddings very much anymore, so I’m unlikely to get 30 wears out of a posh frock. In which case, renting from a dress agency might well be the answer.
There’s some renting resources here from Love Your Clothes.

Fast fashion has a massive impact both on the planet, and on the people who make our clothes.
This is good advice from Vivienne Westwood:

There’s a Sustainable Fashion Directory in my membership community (do come and join us!) or have a look at this one on The Good Shopping Guide.

There’s a handy cheat sheet below – you might want to take it out shopping with you if you struggle to resist your fast fashion fix!

Which of these do you already do?
And which ones would you be up for giving a go?
Do leave a comment below and let me know 🙂

PS. If you’re looking for some more support and resources specifically around sustainable fashion, you might like to get your mitts on the replay of our Sustainable Fashion Masterclass from my Sustainable Living Hub, which comes with a free mini e-book that summarises the main points and take-aways
for just £5


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  • Reply Liz at Gohomespun April 25, 2018 at 6:30 am

    Hi Jen, since taking a ‘No more new clothes’ pledge for a year in August 2016 I’ve only bought a little from charity shops, shopped my wardrobe, and mended plenty of clothes with creative visible mending. Making new clothes from my copious stashes of yarn and fabric is gowing slow though, but buying no new clothes for a year has certainly given me more patience!

  • Reply Carolyn (ChinaKnitz) April 25, 2018 at 5:07 am

    I can’t afford to buy all ethical/organic clothing. I also am not a good enough seamstress or a fast enough knitter to make all or most of my clothes. Additionally, we live in China and none of the clothes here fit, so I buy clothes for about 2 years at a time each time we go to the US. Buying that amount of clothing at a time can get expensive. So, I plan carefully. Each time I buy clothes, I shop clearance on fair trade shops I like such as Marketplace India and get 1 or 2 items. I also pick up a couple of organic cotton items. I buy a couple of sewing patterns and fair trade/organic fabric for at least one item. I also get yarn for a sweater or two. I shop the thrift stores and pick up what I can. But, I do get some basics at the not-good shops. For one thing, my size means I have difficulty finding these items in other places. Plus, I really wear out my undies, tank tops, and leggings. All 3 pairs of my leggings have been mended multiple times, and have holes that can no longer be mended. I can’t replace them for another 3 months. I wear my undies to absolute rags. Because I know that these basics (in very specific amounts) will be completely worn out (we’re talking around 200 wears each at least), because restocking costs around $100, and because saving money on these items allows me to buy better of other items, I accept this. In this way, I’ve been able to gradually increase the amount of my wardrobe that is fair trade or made by me and I’m able to buy less each two years. Even just switching a few items at a time can make a big difference.

  • Reply Karen Bentley-Brown April 23, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    Great blog 🙂 Can I add repair and up-cycle too! If you need some help or inspiration you might have a local repair cafe or sewing cafe that can help.

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