If you’ve ever watched the 2015 documentary, The True Cost, on the destructive impact of the fast fashion industry on human beings as well as the environment, you must have played around with the idea of switching to sustainable fashion. But, as easy as it sounds, doing a complete overhaul to your fashion habits can be extremely difficult. The fast fashion industry has turned us into ever-consuming, well, consumers and adjusting to the new values of sustainable fashion will take time to turn into your way of life.
How to Become a Sustainable Fashion Consumer
If you’ve been trying to quit fast fashion and switch to a more sustainable mode of fashion instead, check out these following tips to start you off on the right track:
Avoid High Street Brands
It’s easy to fall into the temptation of buying the latest collection from your favourite high street brands when you’re constantly surrounded by their stores everywhere you look. We know it’ll be hard to completely avoid them when what seems like almost every inch of our little red dot is covered with the stores of high street brands, but try to do this as best you can. Skip unnecessary trips to the shopping mall and frequent popular shopping districts like Orchard Road less often. Avoiding high street stores applies to your online shopping habits as well. If you have a tendency to make impulse purchases (don’t worry, we’ve all been there), consider blocking those sites to save yourself from spending hundreds of dollars on things you’ll use once only. Once you take control of your fast fashion shopping habits, you’ll find yourself saving more money than usual and your ever-fattening bank account will motivate you to keep on with your new ethical values.
Switching to sustainable fashion doesn’t just mean rehauling your entire wardrobe from fast fashion to ethical ones. Practising sustainable fashion also means doing your part to help reduce the amount of items that are contributed to the landfill. According to the National Environment Agency, Singaporeans produced 205,800 tonnes of textile and leather waste in 2018, and only 6 percent of this was recycled. It’s almost impossible to even imagine how much waste that is, right? If we as a community don’t take control of our waste production, it’s only a matter of time until our landfills are totally used up and we will be forced to look for other waste management methods in the future. One way for you to do your part and help reduce the amount of textile waste we generate is by purchasing second-hand or pre-owned items instead of buying entirely new ones. By buying second-hand, you’re saving the items from being thrown away after just a few uses, thus giving new life to these pre-owned items.
Find Your Personal Style
One reason why it’s easy to fall into the trap of the ever-changing fashion trends is that you haven’t found your own personal style. You see Hollywood celebrities rocking a pair of patent leather pants and you purchase a pair for yourself. And if every fashion designer has incorporated thigh-high boots in their collection, you have to get them too, never mind the fact that your legs will be sweating buckets in Singapore’s sunny weather — who cares as long as you get smooth and slender-looking legs, right? Sure, some trends are too great to pass up, but if you succumb to every single one of them, you can’t be surprised when your wardrobe is overflowing with items you’ve only worn a few times. If you have your own personal style, however, you’ll find it easier to let these trends go by without a second look because you know what suits your style and what doesn’t. If you love the minimal Scandinavian look, you know you’re not going to wear those thigh-high boots anytime soon. And if you live in dresses most of the time, there’s no reason for you to buy leather pants which you would only wear once. Therefore, see what kind of clothes you tend to gravitate towards and figure out your personal style from there. When you’ve done this, you can then decide if that new item you’re eyeing will be a good fit in your wardrobe.
Create a Rotation
The fast fashion industry has created a society that is dependent on the excitement one gets when they get new clothes. If something has been worn a few times, the novelty wears off and we feel the need to replace it with a new item to bring back those positive feelings again. This is fine to some extent — your clothes should produce a positive feeling in you instead of just having a practical purpose — but when this happens too often, you’ll soon find yourself stuck in a cycle that is destructive not only to your wallet, but also the environment. How then can you recreate that feeling of excitement with a wardrobe filled with clothes you’ve owned for years? A way to do this is by creating a system of rotation, which follows the system of rotating clothes according to the seasons, i.e. keep winter clothes during the summer time and take them out when the cold season arrives. But, since we have sunny weather all-year-round in Singapore, what you can do is to store a small collection of your clothes away for a certain number of months and allow yourself to work with another set of clothes throughout that period. This way, when you bring out the other set of clothes after the first rotation, you’ll have fun rediscovering all these other items you haven’t worn in a while and start falling in love with them all over again.