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5 Reasons for You to Shop for Clothes Sustainably

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

When shopping for a Sunday brunch or a long-awaited music festival, there’s usually a plethora of go-to stores to find those items for an inexpensive price.

With their good enough quality articles and irresistible cost, there’s hardly any doubt behind what’s pulled off the hangers.

However, research and observation has continually been exposing the downfall of cutting corners to providing ready-to-consume pieces, and the reality isn’t pretty.

From environmental concerns, to the well-being of the human race, there shouldn’t be any doubt as to why fast fashion should be worn as minimally as possible. Additionally, the options for sustainable ways to shop are becoming more popular and widespread.

To raise awareness for Sustainability Day/Week, here are five reasons that will motivate you to revolutionize your closet in an ethical way.


Fast fashion negatively affects more people than you think

According to Krugstore.com, “1 out of 6 people alive today work in some part of the world’s fashion industry.”

When clothing companies make decisions about what and how they want their clothing manufacturers, it’s affecting the well-being and future of millions of people.

From the pay to the work hours to the work environment, our consumer dollars go to fund whatever their lifestyle will become.

Unfortunately, a limited amount of companies actually has genuine intentions with those components.

Krugstore gives insight on how the biggest exporters of clothing (China and Bangladesh) only pay their workers “just US $0.13 per hour, which is the lowest in the world.”

They work for 70 hours every week just to make a livable income that quickly depletes if they have to support families.

Most factories they work in have extremely poor conditions, including little temperature control and outdated health policies.

Recognizing the companies that take care of their workers helps bring awareness to the importance of ethical treatment that fast fashion companies are being slow to adopt. 


Both consumers AND the environment are paying

When trying to keep up with consumer demands, a plethora of ethical and environmental corners are cut to make ends meet.

The fabrics that are used to create the newest starry crop-top or patched-up jean skirt are treated with chemicals that not only poses a health risk for the workers, but also to whatever environment the clothing relocates to.

Most factories over-produce items in relation to what is actually consumed, so a majority ends up in the landfill.

The chemicals/synthetic materials break down into the surrounding earth and eventually end up in the waterways.

Textile dye, among other by-products of manufacturing, is “the second largest polluter of clean water globally, after agriculture,” says the Independent.co.uk.

Certain materials in clothing have a similar makeup to plastic, which is well-known for having a long decomposition life and time to seriously affect the animals that come into contact with it.

If we continue to rely on unsustainably made clothing, we will also continue to fuel the detriment of our environmental resources as well.


You can become a rational shopper

Becoming aware of how your shopping habits affect others is key to starting a sustainable wardrobe.

Adopting the mindset of avoiding excessive consumerism saves you the closet space and gives you contentment with what you already have.

Patagonia reinforces this concept by speaking out, saying “the most environmentally sustainable jacket is the one that’s already in your closet.”

Rationalizing how much of one clothing item you already own can help avoid the “need” to have more of it when you’re in the environment to do so.

We have so much power with where we put our money, so sending a message that less is more to companies will have a bigger impact than originally intended.

Set limits on how often you shop fast-fashion, and, if necessary, buy clothing that can be worn multiple times and can work with a lot of different styles.

Maximize your outfit selection with cute basics that fill your closet with infinite possibilities.

Save money by buying secondhand

There are too many resources not to try and update your closet in an ethical way.

Apps like Poshmark, Curtsy and Depop allow for an easy way to buy and sell secondhand clothing.

Going to the thrift store is another great way to find unique and easily DIY-able pieces for extremely low prices.

This option is optimal for college students because it gives the most bang for your buck.

Goodwill, The Salvation Army and other similar places always have discounts on all of their clothing, which makes it the most accessible way to find additions to your closet.

Especially if you’re one to constantly go through clothing, this is the most conscious way to go about it, and you can go even further by donating your items back after using them. 


Because it’s better

Paying attention to how you shop not only affects your mindset, but so many other people within the equation.

Thinking and shopping sustainably influences how companies behave and can be a catalyst to focus on providing better environments for workers, slowing down consumption rates and creating more eco-friendly materials for clothing to be made from.

It’s important to not only recognize these concepts on Sustainability Day, but onward as long as you are a consumer.