If you've bought clothes in the past decade, you can be part of the fast fashion solution. Learn why "fast" is a problem and how buying less can save the world.
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Whenever environmental change seems futile, it can be beneficial to focus on something we all do every day. Like wearing clothes! (And if you don't, well... please share.) Our clothing choices have a huge impact on the environment—more than most of us know.
Here’s what we’ll cover step-by-step:
The fashion industry does a LOT of damage, especially through fast fashion. Fast fashion (the opposite of sustainable fashion) is cheap, low-quality clothes produced at breakneck speeds, prioritizing instant gratification of trends over sustainability. It turns out that $10 Forever 21 dresses are, actually, too good to be true. Here's a primer from The Good Trade that explains fast fashion more clearly.
We can all make tangible strides to mitigate it. We can start by buying less, or at least turning away from fast fashion.
🎯 Action step 1 of 4: READ — Let's start by looking at a few articles together.
They're just clothes - how bad can they be?
You're right—clothes themselves aren't a problem. As trendy as it might be to go back to the pre-clothing days of Adam and Eve, those leaves would definitely start to poke after a while.
It's our approach to the creation of fast fashion that makes it so damaging. Here are three main problems:
If you like getting your info from Instagram, Aditi Mayer (@aditimayer) is a trusted source who talks about sustainable fashion in all senses of the word, from culture to human rights to pollution and more.
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 1 of 4: READ.
🎯 Action step 2 of 4: LISTEN — we'll watch a short video or listen to a podcast to further expand on our topic.
Here, we feature a Conscious Chatter podcast episode with Erin Wallace, a leader at ThredUp, the world's largest online thrift store. Erin said something during the episode that stood out to us—in many cities, thrift shops were either too dirty and unseemly, or too upscale to justify it being a "thrift" purchase. #RelatableContent for sure.
This episode is a much-needed solution to this challenge. Listen here!
The benefits of resale shopping and the circular economy are too large to ignore, and ThredUP provides a good compromise for people who do not have access to local t
If everyone in the US bought just 1 item used instead of new this year, it would save around 6 billion pounds of carbon emissions, which is the equivalent of taking half a million cars off the road for a year. Small changes have massive impact when performed at scale, which is what we're out to achieve. - Erin Wallace
You'll learn that:
(Most of the stats cited in this episode are from ThredUP's Resale Report.)
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 2 of 4: LISTEN.
🎯 Action step 3 of 4: ACT — Now it's time to do something. Let's go!
Here's how you can adopt sustainable fashion:
1. Buy less stuff.
Here’s a technique for hanging clothes that can show you how many unnecessary things you buy. You put the hanger on so the hook is facing towards you. When you wear that item, you can put it back the normal way. If you don't touch it in a year, you probably didn't need it! If the hanger technique isn't your thing, consider doing regular mental check-ins and set small goals. Maybe it's buying just one less thing than you usually would. Another easy win is to join your local Buy Nothing group. You’ll get a chance to say if you did this or not below! (Fun fact: so far, to our knowledge, members of Soapbox Project have started Buy Nothing chapters in Brooklyn, USA and Amman, Jordan!)
2. Leverage the resale economy.
ThredUP is a good place to start if you like shopping online! Here's a 10% discount code. Stores like Crossroads and Buffalo Exchange allow you to buy, sell, and trade clothes! It's a neat way to make some quick cash if you have quality clothes that are looking for a new home. You already knew about Goodwill, but did you know about GW Boutiques? Turns out, Goodwill has a few stores just for designer items and you can find a location here. What a time to be alive.
3. Make ethical and sustainable purchases.
It’s often our instinct to buy the cheapest things we can to save money up front, but if you can afford a higher price point, your stuff will last you much longer. Here’s a brief guide of sustainable fashion brands. There’s options at every price point!
This is ranked roughly by price, from low to high —
When you join our membership community, you get recommendations and monthly discount codes for sustainable products you need in your life.
So, which action(s) will you commit to?
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 3 of 4: ACT.
Before we go any further, it's time for you to pledge your commitment. It takes less than 30 seconds to pledge and we can bother you about it in a friendly way, so we can hold each other accountable. Pledge here!
🎯 Action step 4 of 4: REFLECT — what can you commit to? What fresh perspectives can we look at?
We asked people to comment on our Instagram @soapboxproject with their biggest challenges in giving back/social impact. Here were some of our favorites:
You can find Marjan Kris's full bio on Instagram @soapboxproject, but here's some highlights:
As a child of working-class immigrants, he grew up with #sustainablefashion as the standard, not the exception. Today, he actively works to promote and amplify brands that prioritize an environmental ethos when it comes to mitigating their carbon footprint in the production process.
We love to reward our supporters for taking action alongside us and inspiring us. Thanks for staying in the loop!
🏁 Checkpoint: This is the end of action step 4 of 4: REFLECT.
Check out our membership community for more resources like free weekly events with social justice experts, sustainable product discounts, pre-written email templates, a social impact job board, and in-person hangouts with new friends. Thanks for taking action with Soapbox Project!
Get our free bite-sized climate action plans before you go!