Despite it being a typical topic of conversation among me and my friends, I don’t think I’ve ever written a full blog post about sustainable, ethical fashion consumption. I’ve been decreasing my fast fashion consumption ever since I began minimalism in 2017 (I think?), but this year, I made the commitment to myself to purchase 100% ethical & sustainable fashion, and I have to say– I don’t think it will even be that big of a shift.
Why it’s important
Many of us understand (though we may turn a blind eye to) the cheap labor practices of big companies that exploit their workers– this has been on our collective radar for as long as I’ve been a consumer. In my high school and college years, I just didn’t look into it, so as to remain blissfully unaware of the dire reality. It’s still the norm to do this, which is why we aren’t seeing changes. But in addition to the exploitative nature of the working conditions of many fast fashion companies, the mass production and undervaluation of this cheap clothing is also a huge contributor to climate change. Still, to pay top-dollar for ethical and sustainable clothes is a privilege for those who can afford it, right?
Why anyone can shop sustainably
The truth is that anyone can be more sustainable by purchasing fewer clothes. I know I had way, way more clothes than I needed (or even wore) in my closet before I started to practice minimalism. So many of those articles of clothing represented purchases that never needed to be made– this was me, the consumer, participating in over consumption and being part of a culture that drives the unnecessary demand for cheap, trendy items.
But we do need to buy clothes sometimes– and we want to, which validates purchases just as much when we do so with intention. The good news is, you don’t need to have a big budget to afford truly sustainable clothing. In fact, some of the cheapest clothing is actually the most sustainable: used clothes.
Any time you thrift, you are purchasing in a highly ethical and sustainable way by essentially reusing items that have already been made. This way, you’re not driving up demand for fast (or even slow) fashion– you’re basically recycling. And if you like a certain brand that isn’t ethical/sustainable, you can still buy from that brand secondhand using websites like Poshmark and ThredUp, where you can filter by your favorite brands without the guilt of supporting bad business.
If you do have the income and want to purchase new clothes, I cannot recommend sustainable brands like Reformation, Pact, and Patagonia enough. The cost is high, but you’re using your income to get clothes that will last forever and support companies that pay their workers a living wage and reduce environmental impact as much as possible. Plus, if you’re not buying clothes as often, I imagine the cost evens out. In my case, I bought 6 items of clothing total last year. Some of them may have been expensive, but spread out over months and months, I would be willing to bet that I spent less than the average American on clothing for the year.
Watch my latest YouTube video to see some of the items I purchased sustainably recently: