Think before you buy!
Clothing retailers want us to buy more than we need, so fashion trends change rapidly. "Fast fashion" is cheap, low-quality clothing that goes out of style quickly, filling up landfills quickly, too. Low-cost clothing may be easy on our pocketbooks, but it is hard on our planet: Americans send 11 million tons of clothing to landfills each year.
Producing clothing has a huge destructive impact on our environment:
Causing 4% of the world’s greenhouse emissions.
Using billions of cubic meters of water.
Fabric dying creates 20% of the world’s wastewater.
Plastic microfibers are dumped into our oceans.
Fast fashion companies commonly outsource manufacturing to "Third World" or periphery countries, where labor is cheap and there are few, if any, labor or safety laws. Workers are forced to be in hazardous conditions with little to no compensation for injuries. They work very long hours for wages that are rarely livable. In many countries, child labor is common.
Fast fashion usually costs less than durable clothing. It's low quality allows it to be made cheaply, so sell at much lower prices. There are more sustainable options: Buy quality clothing that lasts longer, which can be more cost-effective in the long run. Prefer more affordable clothes? Try second-hand clothing, discussed below.
Buy local so your purchases don't have to be shipped to you and you keep more of your dollars in your community. Find and support earth-friendly brands. Create a style all your own that isn’t dictated by trends. Swap clothes with your friends instead of buying new ones. Shop at consignment stores and second-hand shops, such as Goodwill stores. Turn worn out clothes into rags and dog toys.
Once we're finished with it, 85% of our clothing goes to landfills. Fast fashion doesn’t last long, so quickly ends up in the trash. Durable clothing lasts longer and can be worn by someone else once it’s outgrown or whatever. Donating or consigning clothing is a great alternative to tossing clothes we no longer want. Besides not filling our landfills as quickly, it reduces the amount of new clothing bought.
This page was inspired, researched, and written by Leah Niemann.