We are surrounded and tempted everyday by new products, trends, and clothing items. They are advertised to us on our Instagram feeds and hidden in targeted ads on Facebook. We actively follow brands on social media outlets, keeping up with new styles and reviews of the next big thing. What many of us don’t know or often forget to acknowledge is the environmental impact that the fast fashion industry is making. The truth is that fast fashion has severe effects. The industry rips off of independent designers and commercializes their creativity. It propels a distorted view of consumption by encouraging spending without any regard to true cost or origin. We are often so blinded by the low prices of the industry that we fail to see its consequences. So how can we as consumers become more conscious and reduce our waste in a world that tells us to “buy buy buy”?

Here are some tips:

1. Do your research.

Some of the most popular stores and brands are a part of the fast fashion industry. To name just a few, there are Zara, Forever 21, H&M, Adidas, and Urban Outfitters. Let’s not forget about their parent companies or the companies they own. Researching your favorite brands will allow you to be more cognizant of where you money is going. Are your favorite clothing stores using sustainable material in the manufacturing of their clothes? Do they provide recycling/reuse centers where you can discard unwanted clothing? Where exactly is the unsold apparel going? Do they treat their workers fairly with sustainable wages and healthy working conditions?

2. Support and purchase from ethical and sustainable companies.

There are several brands that have emerged in order to reduce the environmental footprint of the fashion industry. Some include: Everlane, Patagonia, LA Relaxed, Stomie Dreams, My Sister, Modernation, Aeon Row, People Tree, Nisolo, Alternative Apparel, Good Cloth and many more. Believe it or not, there are sustainable companies out there that are also affordable. Did you know that the average shirt takes about 700 gallons of water and ⅓ pound of chemicals to be produced? In response, many of these green companies use recycled yarn and organic textiles. Some even use biodegradable fabrics. Furthermore, these brands are ethical and make sure to treat their workers with fair compensation. Show your support for these clothing companies. Follow them on social media outlets. Make your next purchase a slower one.

3. Decrease your own spending and environmental footprint.

Think twice before you buy into a new trend. Try to reduce the amount of fashion trends that you follow. Keep in mind that what might look cute and trendy today, may be obsolete in just a few months. Be more inclined to buy clothing that you can picture yourself wearing for years. Furthermore, don’t participate in ‘hauls’. By purchasing clothing items in lesser amounts, you will leave less waste, while simultaneously encouraging yourself to consciously think about each of the items you purchase. Wear recycled clothing. Go thrifting with friends. You can even try to mimic some trends by DIYing.

4. Tell your friends.

Educate your peers and family about the fast fashion industry. Even better, when you go shopping with friends, hold each other accountable in making more ethical purchases and reducing your waste. Spreading the word about the impact of the fast fashion industry will encourage more people to become conscious consumers.

Buy less. Choose well. Make it last.
— Vivienne Westwood

The benefits of being a more conscious consumer are plenty. Not only will you end up saving more money in the long run by wearing sustainable clothing and not spending money on fleeting fads, but you will also be reducing thousands of pounds in landfill waste each year. You will end up reducing the exploitation of impoverished communities. You will contributing to a better fashion industry, and ultimately, a better world.

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