Quitting Fast Fashion, A Personal Experience
I know I’m not the only one that’s guilty of having a closet filled with clothes, yet I’m still complaining that I have “nothing to wear.” My go-to place was always the mall, where I’d regularly look for deals and sales in every store I’d walk into. And I didn’t give a second thought about it. About my unhealthy shopping habits, which were actually costing me more because I’d make purchases so often. About what’s going on behind the scenes of garment production. And about how much I was hurting the environment because I wasn’t informed about fast fashion at all.
So what changed?
For me, it started with watching The True Cost documentary, which changed everything. And I mean everything. This documentary opened my eyes to the terrible working conditions that garment workers have to endure, and some atrocious consequences that have resulted from it. The True Cost also gave valuable information about textile farmers and the unfair practices within that industry, as well as what really happens to the clothes we donate in the process. All of these different components, and more, are linked to fast fashion. After watching this documentary and researching some more, I knew I wanted to change my shopping habits—immediately.
I didn’t want to be responsible for more garment workers being killed because of unsafe working conditions. Or another textile farmer committing suicide because of the high costs of toxic pesticide that are simultaneously hurting the people in their community. Or risk my donated clothes being sent in bulk to a developing country, thus hindering the local economy. Or hurting the environment and polluting the earth because many textiles aren’t easily biodegradable.
If I didn’t do something, I would only be helping the problem continue. So, my first step was to research. And research. And research some more. It’s an ongoing process, but I’ve been trying to avoid stores that practice fast fashion. I don’t want to buy into the cheap prices because I know what’s happened behind the making of those low-priced products.
So I did what anyone might do. I went on a detox. It’s been about a month since I’ve been able to successfully avoid any stores that practice fast fashion, and let me tell you, it’s been a tough ride. As someone who used to go shopping just about every weekend, it was hard to go with friends or family and train myself to not try on a really cute top or a pair of jeans that I knew would look great on me. Because I knew better. If I gave in and bought something, I would be inconsistent in my journey for knowing everything I do about fast fashion and throwing it out the window.
Although it’s been a bit tough, it’s been just as rewarding, if not way more. As a global citizen, I feel like I’ve been taking significant steps in the right direction. Not only am I feeling better about myself, but I’m also feeling better about the contribution I’m making for society and for the environment. Being informed about fast fashion has allowed me to inform others, which is very important in order to keep the conversation alive. I believe that we, the consumers, have the power to change the direction of the fashion industry—and it’s an opportunity we need to take.
The Good on You app has been a really helpful tool because it gives summaries of how ethical a brand is based on a number of areas. This app has helped me to build up a list of more ethical brands to shop from. Another small but helpful change I made was unsubscribing to the daily emails I’d receive about a new deal or sale going on at the stores I used to shop at. Not being exposed to that has really helped me to not fall back into my old shopping habits. I’ve heard a lot about wardrobe capsules, which builds up a very practical and versatile closet. This is a great next step I’d like to take because it would eliminate unnecessary items in my closet, like clothes I’ve never worn, don’t have anything to wear with, etc., and really free it up with clothes that I absolutely love instead.
Being more mindful has only helped me in this journey of embracing slow fashion and kicking out fast fashion mentality. This has been a learning experience for me, and I’m still trying to find more ways to play a better part. Fast fashion is obviously too big of a problem to be swept under the rug, which is why we need to play our part and not let it carry on. Anything counts, a small change or a big one, but we can’t let fast fashion continue. To continue to exploit garment workers for fast clothing production. To continue to hurt the communities around textile farmers. To continue to delay development in third world countries. To continue to hurt the planet we live on. So, let’s change that.