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5 Alternative and Affordable Brands to Support in the Fight Against Fast Fashion

As the Earth is rising in temperature and material waste is exponentially increasing every year, it is becoming ever more important to fight fast fashion. This term, which has recently moved to the forefront of many minds, refers to inexpensive clothing that is quickly made and allures consumers with cheap and trendy items. Examples of fast fashion companies include Missguided, Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Shein and Zara. Due to their poor quality, many items from these companies are quickly thrown out by customers, which is detrimental to our planet. Every year, 85% of all textiles end up in a landfill. With every item being thrown out, consumers are buying more and more cheap clothing, which only escalates the issue. Additionally, the fast fashion industry consumes the second highest amount of drinkable water than any industry, fills the planet with carbon emissions from cheap materials and dye, employs millions of underpaid workers and produces 35% of microplastics (which never biodegrade, and are vastly polluting the ocean). If these statistics don’t frighten you, then I challenge you to open your closet and think about how much waste is produced from your own clothing. 

While these numbers may seem concerning, there is still hope! People are becoming more aware of their fashion purchases and are trying to do better. In fact, for every cotton shirt that someone chooses to put back on the rack, nearly 2,700 gallons of water are being saved from future production. Also, while sustainable options are often more expensive, they will save you money in the long run because you will avoid having to regularly replace them. There truly has never been a better time to reflect on your carbon footprint and start shopping sustainably. As a way to feel environmentally conscious about your spending, here are 5 alternative brands to start supporting (and my personal shopping recommendations) that won’t break the bank.

For timeless basics, try PACT Apparel.

PACT Apparel is a leading company in the growing slow-fashion movement. With a myriad of affordable and classic items for women, men and children, as well as bedding and decor, they are a great sustainable option. Upon browsing, I fell in love with the Tulip Wrap Dress ($50) and the Lightweight Sleep Set ($60).

For comfortable workout wear, try Outdoor Voices.

Outdoor Voices is an online retailer that sells affordable and eco-friendly activewear for women and men. As a business model, they prioritize giving their employees a fair wage and benefits, avoiding scrap fabric and recycling old water bottles into many of their products. My favorite item is the OV Kit, which allows you to build your own package of a workout crop and leggings for $98.

For stylish swimsuits, try SummerSalt.

SummerSalt is an environmentally conscious swimsuit brand that prioritizes using recycled fabric. All of their swimsuits are made of extra strong recycled textiles, so you know that they will last a few summers. Plus, they are based in St. Louis, so you will be supporting a Missouri business while getting an adorable new swim suit! Upon browsing their site, many items caught my eye including the Ruffle Oasis One Piece for $95, and the Plunge Bikini Top for $50.

For supportive undergarments, try People Tree.

Let’s face it, bra shopping is the worst, and it doesn't help that many big brand stores like Victoria’s Secret are unsustainable and use wasteful materials. However, People Tree is a wonderful alternative for bras and underwear basics that are Fair Trade Certified and ethically made. My recommendations from the website are the Lace Trim Triangle Bra for $35, and the Lace Hipsters for $15.

For an entirely fast-fashion-free approach, try thrifting on thredUP.

Thrift shopping is quickly becoming a popular pastime for many people across the world. It is a great way to get your shopping fix without supporting fast fashion, and you can find some truly one-of-a-kind items while doing so. If you like the idea of thrifting, but prefer online shopping, I suggest thredUP. It is an excellent second-hand online retailer that inspects everything before being sold, so you know that you are getting quality products.

When it comes down to it, many people realize the harms of fast fashion, but can’t afford the expensive alternatives. Hopefully, this list of sustainable clothing options will give you a few affordable brands to support. The slow fashion industry is rapidly growing, so I encourage you to reevaluate your shopping habits, and start shopping sustainably

Abigail Weiler (She/Her) is currently a Freshman at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where she is majoring in Political Science and minoring in International Studies and French. In her free time, she loves traveling, watching movies, running, keeping up with politics, and spending time with her dog named Heidi. She can almost always be found watching Parks and Rec, listening to Stevie Nicks or Carole King on repeat, working on her handmade earrings business, or encouraging people to vote.
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