There was a time I used to think it was great if I scored a deal on a piece of clothing. I’d brag about how little I spent and wear that top like a badge of honor… but that was before fashion was fast. Now I know better.
I make it sound as if I’m impenetrable, but like all shoppers I’m still tempted by fast fashion. I feel the tug when cutting thru the clothing section of those big stores on my way to pick up my prescription. That bright colored denim, those pretty flowy skirts and what about those great workout leggings? All so attractive, all so beautifully merchandised, and all soooo cheap…
And that’s the thing, it’s all so inexpensive! I mean half the clothes hanging in these stores cost less than a yard of the fabric we use to make just one piece of ME, but even I feel the pull of fast fashion. I touch these garments and like a lover flirting with a stranger, immediately feel guilty for even looking at them.
Why? Because if these garments cost so little, chances are, the factories where they’re made are filled with child laborers and the dyes used to make those bright jeans are flowing into their drinking water.
But still, would it hurt to buy just one thing? (Um, yeah ’cause it’s cumulative…)
Educating customers and holding garment companies accountable for their practices are the only ways to create change, but even those of us who are educated are drawn to a “bargain”.
A close friend of mine asked ME how to get off fast fashion. She supports companies like MAJAMAS EARTH but she brought up the fact that there are lots of people who just can’t afford to spend more than a few bucks on their clothes. I get it.
The fast fashion industry has diluted the market. It’s skewed the true price of what clothing should cost, making it hard for many people to justify spending more on their clothes. For those who think they’re saving money by buying it, fast fashion isn’t sustainable and it’s killing us in so many ways. That inexpensive garment has a very expensive cost to not only the health of our planet but our own health.
So for those of you want to shop sustainably and save, I have these tips to change your shopping habits:
1. BROWSE ETHICAL ECO-FRIENDLY BRANDS
Instead of buying five ten dollar tees (or any other inexpensive fashion, accessories, shoes, etc.) get online and check out these bloggers/influencers for lists of responsibly made clothing companies: Done Good, Fashion Heroes, Good On You, Still Being Molly & Style Wise (ME: MAJAMAS EARTH too, of course!) Then go to the retailers’ sites and comb through their collections. No computer? Use one at your local library!
2. START WITH BASIC STYLES & SHOP SALE
Scout SALE sections and give some garments a try without spending a lot on your first order. If the clothing is made responsibly and well, it will last you longer than those great “deals” you found at your favorite mass retailer.
You can start building a sustainable wardrobe slowly and I promise, when you have your Marie Kondo moment and clean out your closet, all those cheap “deals” you bought in the past will be the first things to go.
Invest in classic styles first. Sure, the latest trends are enticing but are you really going to wear that fringed top more than one season? Subtle embellishments like inside trims or prints give that fashionista flair without limiting how long you can wear it. Buy clothing that will look great regardless of the latest trend and use your responsibly made accessories, makeup or hair to update your look. These cost less to update and can resurface ten years later like my favorite Doc Martens from 1984… God’s honest truth! Still got ’em!
3. CHECK FABRIC CONTENT FIRST
Fabric mills are furiously working to improve what they make, so be diligent and Google the fibers in your clothing. Learn about them before judging the durability or the impact they have on our planet. For example, wool is going thru a huge positive transformation. Tencel is environmentally friendly, incredibly soft and durable too. New fibers and combinations are being created every minute and there are a lot of us like ME putting pressure on the fabric industry to make better, lower impact fabrics. To their credit, the mills are listening.
4. TAKE CARE OF YOUR CLOTHES
Only wash your clothes in COLD water on the gentle cycle and if possible hang or lay them flat to dry. We Americans love our dryers, but heat is a fabric’s foe. If you rely on your dryer to remove pet hair or lint, use the AIR cycle for five minutes with no heat after your garment’s dry. It’ll feel soft the way it does after a typical dryer cycle and all that white dog hair will be gone… ahem… Loretta Marie!
NEVER use bleach, special detergents or fabric softeners. Believe it or not, the detergents claiming to be the safest for fine or delicate fabrics can do the most harm to our waterways. Avoid detergents with heavy scents, colors and claims. I prefer clear, scent-free detergent but when I do need a little scent to rid the stink in my workout wear, I use Melaleuca.
A little side note…when I was in Italy, most people there had a small, tight wardrobe made up of versatile basics they took great care with and continued to wear for years and years. I think they were onto something…
5. SPREAD THE WORD
Finally and most importantly, take the time to write your favorite big retailers.
Push them to clean up their manufacturing processes and hold them accountable for their practices. Then support organizations like Earth Justice, Friends of the Earth, Green Peace, Sierra Club and others holding foreign governments accountable for the companies manufacturing these clothes.
Share ME and other conscious clothing brands with your friends and family. The more people support responsible clothing companies, the quicker the fashion industry will change for the better.
Sure, we’re all tempted by a low price, but fast fashion manufacturers have the funding and power to change their practices. If they ALL operated safely, with the environment in mind, the cost of these clothes wouldn’t be completely out of reach, even for those who can’t afford to spend much more.
Everything has a cost, so remember… if you aren’t paying it at the checkout, you’ll be paying it later in medical bills or cleanup efforts to fix that polluted river. Not something I want my kids, yours or anyone to spend their money on.
– Germaine Caprio, Company Owner & Designer
TO HEAR FROM YOU
What is your favorite shopping tip to save on sustainability?
Please share your own thoughts with us – let’s get a conversation started in the comments below! Your comment may even win you a free MAJAMAS® EARTH garment this week!