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How You Can Support Sustainable Fashion

Ways YOU can make a difference, with or without spending money!

Sustainable/slow fashion is gaining momentum in light of awareness and upheaval against fast fashion's environmental and ethical issues.

Air pollution from carbon dioxide emissions from extracting fossil fuels for synthetic fabrics, water pollution from chemical processing and toxic coloured dyes, terrestrial and marine animal loss due to micro-plastics, human rights violations, and increasing landfill space being used from excessive purchasing and purging of clothing are just a brief summary of the many impacts the textile industry has on our planet. As there are more options to reduce this damage, such as the emergence of more ethical based fashion companies, some options can be pricy and unattainable for some people. There are still many options to help reduce your environmental impact within the textile industry, regardless of price, and I'm here to share them with you!

Slow fashion can be described as many things, and we shouldn't say that any option is "better". Remember, any effort makes a difference!

Here are some options if you have the means to purchase/support businesses directly:

  1. You may purchase from a conscious clothing brand with ethical policies

  2. Choose to buy vintage, as it's the most sustainable textile

  3. Invest in timeless staples such as neutral coloured clothes so they may be interchangeable to be more minimal with your wardrobe

  4. Supporting a small business making handmade clothing or accessories

  5. Purchase from artisans at your local farmers market

  6. Buying second hand from an online vintage shop or thrift store

  7. Check out online buy & sell groups

  8. Take your worn shoes to a shoe repair shop, especially if they are genuine leather

  9. If you don't like the way something fits, you could take it to a tailor to have it fitted to you instead of giving it away

  10. Donate/support activism initiatives for the textile industry

Great sustainable options that don't require money (or very little) :

  1. Looking through your family's hand-me-downs before it's donated

  2. Volunteer at a second-hand store

  3. Post an advertisement and sell your clothing on online marketplaces

  4. Take care of clothes you cherish, wash them according to instructions if it's a special material so you may extend the garments' life

  5. Hold a clothing swap with your family or friends to trade clothes

  6. Always donate fair condition clothes to charity if there is no one in your family/friend group that could use them

  7. Mending your favourite pair of socks or any garment that needs some TLC

  8. Rework an old shirt into a new style with a sewing machine or hand stitching

  9. Sharing, liking, saving, and commenting on your favourite vintage shops on social media

  10. Share scholarly articles on social media to spread the word about the unsustainable and unethical nature of fast fashion, awareness is key

  11. Cut up old clothing/bedsheets to use as fabric, reusable gift wrap, makeup remover pads, cleaning cloths, an eco friendly heating-pack with rice inside, and more!

  12. Get some yarn from the thrift, preferably natural like cotton, wool, or bamboo (or ask your grandma!) and learn how to knit/crochet clothing or accessories

  13. If you have clothes with unrepairable holes/tears, offer to give them to someone that could use them as rags in the garage

  14. The option most overlooked, wearing and reusing what you already have!

The idea is to keep reusing and repurposing clothing, to strive towards a circular economy, and limit the amount of new resources we consume. A change in perspective is needed in a world where many believe that more is better. We need to work together and understand that purchasing the 10 dollar dress from a fast fashion website is at the cost of unethical human labour, environmental degradation, and wildlife destruction.

There are many more options that are out there that's beyond this list, but it is a great start!

If you found this list helpful, share it to help others learn about great ways to support sustainable fashion/clothing initiatives!

With love,

Rebecca van Gennip

Queen's University Bachelor of Fine Arts, Artist, and creator of Sweetheart Classics

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