Buying sustainably doesn't have to take huge effort, or hours of trawling charity shops if that's just not your thing. And actually we believe that if you want to buy an item of clothing that isn't contributing to global pollution, slave labour or female inequality, then it shouldn't have to be your thing.
Retailers have a responsibility to stock product that has been made without damaging the planet in the process, as well as ensuring their supply chains employ fair working standards. But of course, that's where you, the consumer comes in. You have tremendous power with that wallet of yours. Every time you use it, there is a consequence that fuels and supports a business, and endorses their working practices.
Here's our top tips for buying sustainably and flipping up fast fashion. Even if you start by dabbling in one or two of the points below, its a step change in the right direction.
1 - Think hard about your potential new item of clothing. Do you LOVE it? Does it suit your body shape? And at the risk of sounding like your mother... will the material wash well and suit the purpose?
We all have far too many clothes in our wardrobe that we don't wear, so make sure you only buy items you absolutely love, or is essential kit.
2 - Treat yourself! Save up and buy good quality, well-made clothes that will last (and by proxy, you are more likely to cherish - see above point). The abundance of cheap clothes makes that impulse purchase seem less significant; cheap clothes often can mean cheap working practices, cheap materials that have been created with little care, and cheap wages.
3 - Check out the label. If you don't know much about the eco credentials or morals of the brand you are buying from, read the clothing labels in store; that little scratchy tag can tell you a lot more information than just the size. Where was the garment made? if it's come from the Far East, for example, there are the obvious air-miles involved, but you'll also need to rely on the brand or business itself to have safeguarded the working conditions of the people who made it. Every garment label will tell you the composition of materials. Are they recycled? Are they organic?
4 - Love what you already own. Sew buttons back on and iron in magic hem... And do it as soon as they drop, otherwise the garment will stop being worn, you will lose the button, and you will forget that you love said garment and cast it out. And if you seriously don't have the time many dry cleaners offer a relatively inexpensive mend service.
5 - Own your style! There are some great second hand and vintage shops out there that extend the lifecycle of beautifully made clothes. Often styling classic vintage pieces with high-street/ more recent purchases creates an eclectic confident look that you can own and will stand you out from the crowd.
6 - Research. We saved this to one last as, granted, it takes a bit more time and effort, but its always worth undertaking a bit of research before you buy to check out the morals and eco-credentials of the brand you are considering buying from.
Beware the flashy Front Page designed to green-wash you though! The practice of crafting clothes as cheaply as possible, with little regard for the supply chain, and then donating a small percentage of the profits to charity holds little weight with us. Look for companies that care about their supply chains, source materials with care and still speak your language.
Remember every purchase matters. Big or small. And maybe, just maybe, a pair of pants can change the world. #flipthedog #sustainablefashion
This post was originally featured on the Flip The Dog blog,
Photograph credit: Visit Britiain from Flikr Creative Commons
This September The Huffington Post UK Style is focusing on all things sustainable, for the second year running. Our thirst for fast fashion is dramatically impacting the environment and the lives of thousands of workers in a negative way. Our aim is to raise awareness of this zeitgeist issue and champion brands and people working to make the fashion industry a more ethical place.
We'll be sharing stories and blogs with the hashtag #SustainableFashion and we'd like you to do the same. If you'd like to use our blogging platform to share your story, email firstname.lastname@example.org