We used to know where the clothes we wore came from. We made them ourselves, our the local tailor did, or a factory a few hundred miles away.
We used to own fewer of those clothes, and wear them longer, and turn them into rags or otherwise re-use the fabric.
Now our clothes are made halfway around the world and the manufacturing output moves ever faster to satisfy our tastes for fast fashion and cheap fashion.
But the negative impact of that change–on both the planet and the people who work in the garment industry–has become clearer recently (and in the case of the Bangladesh factory fire, tragically).
Since we can’t turn back the clock, what are our options?
Tips for responsible clothes shopping
There are a few ways we can change our behavior to in turn cause change on an even larger scale.
- Buy responsibly. Look for brands and labels that are fair trade or sustainable. And look for companies that have signed the Clean Clothes Campaign’s Accord on Fire & Building Safety in Bangladesh.
- Buy less. Supply exists to meet demand. There are a number of ways to learn how to live with (and love) the clothes you already own, including Project 333 (“a minimalist fashion challenge that invites you to dress with 33 items or less for 3 months”).
- Buy used. If you have to buy, shop secondhand. There are thousands of items waiting on the racks of your local thrift, consignment and vintage shops (or even your mom’s closet).
And don’t forget to recycle your own clothes. Whether you re-use the fabric like our moms and grandmas used to, consign them, or you donate them to a charity, keeping garments out of the landfill is another step toward greener, more sustainable fashion.
- Fab mamas: Have you changed your shopping habits to be more sustainable or responsible? What are your tips?
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