With the first month of 2023 well underway, the Passion Lilie team wants to offer encouragement to all of our friends who resolved to reduce their fast fashion footprint this year. You’ve set an important goal, and we’re here for you every step of the way. Whether you’re new to sustainable fashion or if you’re here for tips and ideas, read on to learn how your choices can have a huge impact this year.
Back to the basics: what is fast fashion?
Fast fashion is a recent phenomenon that is deeply intertwined with the rise of social media. As we began posting pictures every time we left the house, we caved to the notion that repeating outfits was a fashion faux pas. Consumers demanded clothes that mimicked the celebrities and influencers on our feeds. We wanted them cheap, and we wanted them instantly. Factories responded to our demands with trendy clothes we could grab at mainstream stores, wear a few times, and toss.
Why is fast fashion so bad?
Fast fashion is hurting our climate, animals, and the people who make our clothing. Perhaps the first major wakeup call was in 2013, when more than 1,000 people died in a factory that collapsed in Bangladesh. We started to question – was our $8 going out shirt really worth that kind of cost? The human toll of fast fashion is grave. Garment workers are paid far below a living wage to work in dangerous conditions without fundamental human rights like being able to take lunch and bathroom breaks.
The speed and demand of fast fashion leads to cut corners and no regard for global ecosystems. The fashion industry leads the way in water pollution as toxic textile dyes infiltrate clean water with dangerous chemicals.
Cheaper fabrics like polyester intensify the impact of fast fashion, contributing to global warming and increasing levels of plastic in our oceans. We discard our cheap clothes with every new trend, creating massive amounts of waste every year. The devastating impacts on our environment – and the humans and animals that rely on it – cannot be overstated.
What can we do about it?
The “throw away” culture we’ve developed over the last two decades is making us deeply unhappy. It’s exhausting to stay on top of trends, constantly feeling as if we need something new to keep up. So what can we do about it? How can we capture a sense of peace about fashion and our footprint?
First, do not despair. It’s ok to love clothes and fashion! We at Passion Lilie sure do. Resolving to be a more conscious consumer is an excellent step to making a difference in the world. Here are some practical ideas for reducing the amount of fast fashion in your life this year.
Learn to spot fast fashion brands: There are a few telltale signs of a fast fashion brand. Once you can identify them, it’s easier to shop for your clothing elsewhere. At a fast fashion store, you may find thousands of trendy styles reflecting the most immediate runway and influencer looks. There are usually just a few pieces of each style because the brand knows that within a few days, no one will want something that’s old news. Once the trend has run its course, unpurchased clothes head to a landfill. Fast fashion clothes are usually made of cheap, plastic-based materials that will fall apart after a few wears, ultimately ending up in our oceans releasing dangerous chemicals.
Figure out what you like: What pieces of clothing do you find yourself reaching for repeatedly? What colors and shapes make you feel your very best? One of the most important and fun ways to quit fast fashion is to discover your own personal style. You alone are in control of what you wear. Unfollow the influencers and unsubscribe to the promo emails that fill your inbox. Your style is timeless: you like what you like, and you don’t need to wear what everyone else is wearing. When you spend money on higher quality clothes that reflect your personality and lifestyle, you’ll find yourself wearing them time and time again, thus reducing your fashion waste and spending less on momentary trends.
Think about your buying habits: When are you most likely to buy clothes? Does social media trigger a need to be seen in something new? Does hitting “add to cart” give you an instant dopamine boost? Figuring out your own motivation for shopping gives you a great opportunity to take a beat before you click to complete that purchase.
Fast fashion thrives on impulse buys and flash sales. Before you buy, stop and think about why you need each item. Consider what it’s made of, where and when you plan to wear it, and who made it. By pausing to answer these questions, you’ve taken a positive step toward becoming a conscious consumer!
Repair and reimagine what you have: Fast fashion brands want us to toss our clothes and hand over more money for new ones that will follow the same cycle. It’s up to us to break it. We can take better care of our clothes by washing them gently, storing them properly, and repairing them instead of replacing them when necessary. We can look at our closet and find new ways to wear and use what we already have. What can be repurposed? What can take on an entirely new life with accessories or additional layers? Giving new life to what we already own is one of the best ways to reject the demands of fast fashion and reduce our fashion footprint.
- Shop pre-loved: We started buying into fast fashion because of the low prices we desperately needed in the late aughts. While we still need those prices, there are better ways to get them! Before buying brand new, checkout Poshmark, ThredUp, thrift stores, and buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook. You can search for groups with specific brands and find clothes that are brand new or worn a handful of times. Shopping secondhand is a great way to keep more clothes out of the landfill and save money.
Find (and support!) sustainable brands: When you’re ready to invest in sustainable pieces, find brands that answer your questions transparently. Look for shops that tell you where and how your clothes are made, and who makes them.
For example, as a member of the Fair Trade Federation, Passion Lilie partners with several small producers in India. We believe in nurturing economic sustainability by collaborating with partners who pay fair and living wages, create a safe and healthy work environment, and invest in the overall wellbeing of the artisans. Sustainable change is about going beyond fair wages. That's why we provide our artisan partners with opportunities for community and skill development.
Once you find brands that you love, share them with your friends! Brands like Passion Lilie thrive on your personal reviews and our work is only possible because of loyal followers who help us spread the word. Every time you like, share or engage with us on social media, you help us make a difference through sustainable fashion.
If sustainable fashion seems overwhelming, Passion Lilie is here for you! Take one little step at a time, and you’ll be on your way to making a big difference.