5 ways to cloth you AND your kid ethically (without going broke)

5 ways to cloth you AND your kid ethically (without going broke)

SHE CHANGED: The fast fashion Industry. 5 ways to make ethical shopping choices (without going broke)

Before my daughter was born, I was as fast fashion as they come. I lived for trends, was notorious for only wearing something once or twice, and popped into the mall on a near weekly basis to see what was new. I rarely left without at least one new t-shirt.

And then I had a baby. And I, like every other new mom out there, was overwhelmed with how much I loved her. But what surprised me the most was how fiercely I felt like I needed to protect her. The thought of something horrible happening to her was unbearable. I spent many nights irrationally thinking of all the bad things that might come her way, and how I could save her from them.

So when I came across an article in the Toronto Star about a reporter who went undercover in a garment factory in Bangladesh, where she was surrounded by 9 year olds working 12 hours a day sewing garments for one of the fast fashion companies I visited on the regular, a lump in my throat began to form.

I know for a fact that I am not alone by wanting to protect my child at all costs. Women the world over experience that-it’s in our biology. Yet here I was buying clothes for myself -and my child- that another child had made. Someone else’s baby was being treated like a slave on a daily basis, and I was supporting it.

I stopped buying fast fashion right then and there. It hasn’t been an easy change, especially when you have to clothe a growing child. But it can be done, and it can be done without breaking the bank. Below are 5 ways I’ve stopped buying fast fashion, without going broke.

Seek quality over quantity: 

People see the price tag of ethically made, environmentally conscious garments and often scoff at the price. “I can’t afford that!” or “That’s insane! I can go to (insert fast fashion chain here: H&M, Mango, Topshop, Joe Fresh, Primark) and buy 20 of these for that price!” But here’s the thing: buying ethically made goes hand in hand with buying well-made. So although it’s an initial investment at first, you WILL spend less in long run because your clothes last so.much.longer. Natural fibres like wool, silk and linen are naturally stain and sweat resistant. This means you don’t have to wash them as often, so they won’t wear out as quickly. Rather than buying a new t shirt every other month that quickly looses it’s shape, pills, or is easily stained, invest in higher quality items and over time you’ll spend less money in the long run.

Hone your personal style:

No one wants to show up to the party looking like a Zara look-book. Talk about unoriginal! Think about someone’s whose style you really admire: what is it that makes them such a style icon? I would argue it’s their ability to put unique pieces together that only they seem to be able to pull off. I think we can all admit there is nothing unique about mass production! Spend some time thinking about what pieces you feel great in. What pieces look amazing on you? Build a collection around that. Sticking to this mindset is a great way to avoid being sucked in by that trendy item you buy on a whim and never end up wearing because it’s totally wrong for you and your personal style.

Celebrate being seeing wearing the same beautiful pieces again and again:

I’m gonna throw a little bit of social psychology at you here: did you know that more than anything else, repetition forms our personal preferences? Take for example, a new song you hear on the radio. At first, you might hate it, but a week later, you find yourself singing along, totally enjoying the groove. What happened there?? Repetition happened. The more often we see or hear certain things, the more we begin to like them. So, I challenge you to a little social experiment. Take pride in wearing the same beautiful pieces over and over again, no matter how many times you meet with the same people. I bet that over time, you might start to notice that people are suddenly starting to dress like you. You are unconsciously forming their preferences and suddenly they are lusting after your wardrobe! You’re one step closer to becoming that style icon I talked about earlier!

(If becoming a style icon is totally not your jam, then do it because we have to stop supporting these fast fashion companies who continuously speed up trends, release a new clothing line not every season, but every week, giving clothing shorter lives in our closets and forcing a mindset of needing more, more, more.)

Shop your favourite influencer’s wardrobe:

Even if you invest in a beautiful and timeless “capsule” wardrobe, you’re likely to pine after a trendy item from time to time. We are only human, after all. Don’t let that be the catalyst for a fast-fashion binge shop. Instead, consider raiding your favourite instagrammer’s closet for her hand-me-downs. Websites like postmark and depop make this easier than ever.

Enjoy the thrill of the chase:

Another trick I turn to when I find myself wanting a cool, trendy item is to hunt it down at a local consignment shop. I might, for example, decide that I really need a pair of culottes. I see them everywhere and they look so cute so I really want a pair. Rather then heading to my local H&M, where I’m going to end up buying a pair that 10 other women in my circle either have or have seen, I scourge my favourite used-clothing stores for a truly unique, possibly vintage pair. I save a ton of money buying them used, and I know that I haven’t supported any abusive fast fashion companies in the process. And if I don’t find them? Guess what, by that point the trend is over, I’m over them, and I’m not bummed I spent money on an item I don’t care about anymore! It’s win-win all around.

 

Not too long ago, I (nervously) walked into a fast fashion store for the first time in more than a year. The window display lured me in, and I convinced myself a look wouldn’t hurt. The truth is, I worried I would cave and buy something. I walked in and saw thousands of articles of clothing, for one season. Everything just kinda looked like a similar version of everything else, and I suddenly felt extremely underwhelmed. The clothes, or more specifically, the cookie cutter looks, they didn’t appeal to me anymore. More than I felt the need to look like a mannequin, I felt sad for all the waste and a little grossed out at the lack of ethics behind making all these pieces. I walked out feeling more confident I was on the right path then ever before.

Not sure if an item is fast fashion? A general rule of thumb is if the tag says made in China, India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam, or Thailand, it is not our friend!

And if you need a bit more convincing, here are a few more links about all the horrible things happening because of fast fashion companies we are shopping at:

https://www.thestar.com/news/world/clothesonyourback/2013/10/11/i_got_hired_at_a_bangladesh_sweatshop_meet_my_9yearold_boss.html

https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/environment-costs-fast-fashion-pollution-waste-sustainability-a8139386.html

https://cleanclothes.org/resources/publications/labour-without-liberty-2013-female-migrant-workers-in-bangalores-garment-industry-short-version/view

We can all change the world in a BIG way by making this small changes to our shopping habits.

 

-Kait

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