You may well have heard about the damage that fast fashion is doing to the planet. The West’s appetite for new clothes is harmful to people, animals and the planet itself. Indeed, it has been claimed that the fashion industry emits more carbon than international flights and maritime shipping combined. The fashion industry accounts for 10% of our carbon outputs, uses more than its fair share of water, and damages the oceans by releasing micro-plastics when clothes are washed.
Ethical Consumer Magazine are holding their annual Ethical Consumer Week later this month, from October 24th-30th. This is a week of panels and workshops designed to help businesses and individuals make more ethical choices in the future. With this in mind, our October blogs are going to be all about how you can become a more ethical consumer.
So what can you do if you need some new clothes and want to avoid contributing to the climate emergency? Firstly, ask yourself if you really do need something new. Is there a pair of trousers in the back of your wardrobe you forgot about? Can you put a belt round that dress so that it looks like something new? Has your flatmate got a fancy hat you can borrow?
Sometimes, the answer to all those things is no. And that’s OK - you still have ethical options ahead of you.
Buying second hand is a great option. Bristol is chocca with fantastic charity shops, particularly in Clifton. If you tick the ‘used’ option on eBay, you can find great second-hand outfits for any occasion there too.
Mending or repairing clothes you’d given up on is another option. If you’re not a dab hand with a machine yourself, you could contact one of the local sewing geniuses we list on the BCR website such as Victoria Dry Cleaners in central Bristol, Sew Much More in Easton or Daddy Alterations on Gloucester Road.
Photo by Adolfo Félix on Unsplash
If you’ve tried all of those options and still can’t find the right dress for that special wedding or shirt for that important interview, you might want to turn to some of the high-quality, eco-options for buying new clothes that are out there. Ethical Consumer have a great page which lists a multitude of ethical shops. Let’s have a look at my top picks from that page.
Lucy and Yak are my favourites from the Ethical Consumer list. Lots of my mates own dungarees made by this company and, frankly, I am longing to try out their comfy yet stylish lounge-ability. The dungarees are unisex, but the rest of the range is for women only. Items include fabulously colourful trousers, pinafore dresses and polka dot socks. While ethical clothes are always going to be more expensive than fast fashion, the prices here are not too eye-watering. If you avoid Primark for a couple of months, you might find you have enough for a £54 pair of dungarees without having to smash too many piggy banks.
Thought Clothing have collections for men and women, as well as sale section so tempting I nearly broke my own pledge of buying no new clothes in 2020. They set out to protect people and the environment with their clothes, which are simple, stylish and made to last.
Finally, Greenfibre Organic sell sustainable items for your kitchen, bathroom and bedroom as well as clothes for men, women and children. Some of the pyjamas on this site look especially delicious.
If you do decide to buy new, look out for clothing that uses organic cotton and is fair trade, and always avoid vicose clothing, which is hugely damaging to the planet.
Good luck out there - let us know how you get on with your forays into slower fashion!
Did you know: it takes 1,800 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to make a pair of jeans?