Urgh! I need a new outfit for a girl’s night out. I haven’t seen these ladies for ages! This is a “treat yourself” occasion. My only issue is, I open my purse and literal moths fly out. All I have is a 2p, a lottery ticket from 3 weeks ago (it was £134 million and I was convinced I was going to win!), and 6 years’ worth of receipts.
I get paid tomorrow, so I can get something in town. I think after all the bills have been paid, I should have enough. I could always put it on the credit card. You know, the one where you convince yourself you’ll pay it all off next month but you’ve only paid the minimum balance for the last 6 months! Anyway, I will pop into a few shops, I could probably pick up a dress for about £10 if I am savvy about it.
Wait wait wait, no no. I can’t do this anymore. There’s a thing called “fast fashion”. The clothes that I can afford are now unethical and bad for the environment. Great! Another thing to make me feel guilty for being poor!!! I already carry so much guilt around my literal existence (thank you social media). Why not add the purest joy I feel when shopping, to my list of rotten things I do as a human. Perfect!!!
The thing is, deep down you know it isn’t great. You know you can and should do better. I am not going to spout off the 1000s of facts that state how bad fast fashion is. A quick google search will give you everything you need to know. It is unnerving how ignorant a lot of us have been, with our shopping habits for such a long time. It is time that we change. All of us. Even just a little…
So what can we do? What can we do as normal, everyday people?
The main one we can all do very easily, is to STOP buying so many clothes. Less really is more. Buy clothes that you are likely to wear over and over again. Cost per wear is my best friend! This is my favourite way to justify purchases. If I buy a £30 item, that I wore once. That cost £30 a wear. If I wore it 30 times; £1 per wear. Just by making sure you get the most out of your clothes you really are helping the environment.
“Doubling the useful life of clothing from one year to two years reduces emissions over the year by 24%, while reducing the longevity of a shirt from one year (50 uses) to only 1 month (4 uses) increases emissions over the year by around 550%.” – The Carbon Trust.
Try to stop impulsive purchases. I have started making lists of items that I would like to buy so that I don’t buy unnecessarily. Pintrest and Instagram photo saves are my best friend. I check out these regularly and look at patterns of what I like and try to incorporate this into what I need. Yes, it’s a bit of work, but it works for me. It’s also means I can spend a lot of time online ‘researching’… ’tis important research!
Another thing we can try to do (if you can) is to spend a little more on clothes. If you buy less in the first instance, this would mean you have more money to spend per item. Now, I am not saying you need to spend your life savings on that Chanel handbag (if it is the only bag you ever own though, think of the cost per wear! 😍). Just spend a little more. Chances are your clothes will be better quality and if you don’t want the item anymore, it will be much easier to sell on. Not many people will buy your second-hand Primark top! However, I see pieces from the brands such as Sezane fetch more on eBay than what they were originally purchased for!
On another note, a lot of ‘high street’ brands are waking up to the fast fashion impact and are starting to offer alternatives. These aren’t perfect but it’s a start and if we invest in these recycled/conscious lines, companies will listen. They want us to spend their money with them, so the way we spend it is powerful regardless of how much we have. I was thrilled that my guilty pleasure brand NastyGal now offer one off pieces from recycled material!
My favourite way of offsetting my fast fashion habit is buying vintage/secondhand clothes. I regularly struggle to justify spending money on more expensive clothes. I want the quality pieces at purse friendly prices. Trust me, thrifting is the answer! You will also be saving the environment. It’s a win/win situation.
These are just some of my favourite resources;
1) eBay. I have picked up so many pieces that still have their tags on. Easily 90% cheaper too. For example, I recently purchased a Laura Ashley winter wool coat for £10 . RRP approx £150. It’s a stunner. It’s a classic colour tweed, therefore I class it as a ‘timeless’ piece and I will most likely keep forever.
2) Apps like depop are great! There is so much variety on this platform. I love browsing these apps. Items tend to be a little more expensive than that of eBay but this allows room for a good haggle!
3) Swop your clothes. There is an online shop called swopped.co.uk. This platform literally allows you to swop your unwanted clothes for other items you will wear. I love this website for when you need one off occasion outfits. Wear a dress to a wedding once, swop it for a dress you will wear twice a week. Sometimes one off outifts are inevitable but this website really offsets that waste and guilt. It works by you subscribing to a minimal rolling monthly fee. You take a photo of that wedding guest outfit, send it in. You will receive an offer of credits. Accept or decline the offer. If you accept, send the item in and you can then spend the credits in the ‘online shop’. I recently picked up an &other stories dress from there. It technically cost me nothing as I swopped it out for never fully dressed skirt. It’s a zero waste, completely circular way of reusing clothes. No clothes end up in landfill like the majority of the clothes that end up in charity shops do.
4) Charity Shops. Now, these are very hit and miss. You will have to check regularly if you want to increase your chances of finding the right pieces for you. I am going to list a few of my last month finds for you to get an idea of what you can find.
– Levi Jeans £4.99
– 100% wool, St Michaels brand trench coat £8
– 100% cashmere cardigan £1.99
– 100% marino wool jumper £2
– Genuine leather belt £1
– Leather satchel similar to the cambridge style ones. £10
Also, location is important. I cisut charity in Llanelli, as basically their whole high street are charity shops and always quiet. I have found lots of reasonable/bargain pieces. I have shopped in Mumbles and Swansea. But I tend to find they are considerably more expensive for not that much better quality. Independent 2nd hand shops, like Hobos in Swansea are amazing and have really statement one of pieces that no one else will have! I really recommend a visit.
To conclude; I can understand how fast fashion has taken a hold on the industry. Collections are showcased on the runway by luxury brands and within days, similar pieces will be in the high street. Accessibility and clever marketing has made us very hungry to buy new all the time. I can completely sympathiese with anyone who wants to be ‘on trend’ and have the latest instagram ‘it’ item. Media can make you really believe you need it and it will make you happy for a short time. But let me ask you this, if you bought a dupe of the current ‘it’ bag by Bottega Veneta for £5 would you treasure it the same way you would when you’ve saved up for years to buy it? I bet once that bag looks a bit dull, you’ll just put it in the bin. Is it actually worth it? Is it worth the impact on the environment or the fact somebody has made that for an unfathomably low wage? We can’t be perfect and I personally still shop the high street but 85% of my wardrobe is now second hand. My clothes have never been this good in quality, this long lasting and never as inexpensive.
P.S. Yes, yes, I am aware that if everyone buys second hand, this will drive up the price due to demand. But, is this really a problem? Knowing that all your clothes still of monetary value regardless of age? Clothes will be an investment and cherished, like they used to be.