Fashion Revolution Week and Earth Day have had me thinking a lot about my own transition away from fast fashion. I've heard of fast fashion being compared to fast food. Both bad for you and the planet, but easily accessible and cheap to purchase, both addictive in their own ways. They share even more similarities when you start to make a lifestyle shift away from them.
If you grow up on junk food your idea of starting to eat healthy might mean a turkey sandwich on whole wheat toast. But as you get more involved in healthy eating you learn about organic foods, about the hormones and antibiotics in meat and the pesticides used on produce. About the potential allergies and sensitives to gluten. You learn that processed food as a whole is not good for you. That your healthiest options are growing your own fruits and veggies(or meat) or shopping local, farm to table. Essentially the deeper you go down the rabbit hole the more information you learn and the more there is to watch out for. You quit your typical fast fashion store where you can buy a $5 shirt and you upgraded. You're now spending significantly more but the labels still list synthetic fabrics of unknown origin and it's made in another country with unknown working conditions. Even once you learn about natural and sustainable fabrics you discover there is more to them than you realized. The plants that the fibers come from were grown in a sustainable manner, but harsh chemicals may have been used to process them.
Sometimes the more you know the more overwhelming it becomes. Even just thinking about starting the transition process can be daunting. It seems so much easier shopping without a care. Ignorance really is bliss, but it can also be incredibly harmful, especially in this case.
When I first launched my site last fall there was still a lot I didn't know about the dark secrets of the fashion industry, still learning in fact. I did know that workers couldn't possible be fairly compensated if I bought a new tee for $5. I knew that there were a lot of chemicals being used to produce clothing. That your standard beauty products were packed with toxins. And I knew I wanted to find a better way to shop. A couple weeks after These Native Goods went live I finally had a chance to watch The True Cost. My heart sank seeing just how bad things have gotten. But then I started stumbling across more and more people and companies fighting for a change. Fashion Revolution, MIA Project, all the great bloggers at the Ethical Writers Co and countless brands who are combating fast fashion by providing us with better options.
In the same way that healthier eating options have become more readily available slow fashion is as well. You just need to know where to look and hopefully my website helps with that a little ;).
So here's my point/thought... don't let it overwhelm you. I know it can because I'm still going through it myself. Although I've been a thrift store and vintage shopper most of my life, I also fell under the fast fashion spell. I still have quite a few pieces in my wardrobe, where they will stay. Because tossing them out would only contribute to our waste problem. I understand that becoming a more conscious shopper doesn't happen overnight. Make the changes that work for you. Prices can be daunting when you move away from fast fashion but consider that the products are better made so they'll last longer. Throw in some second hand or vintage and hit sample sales or regular sales to stalk up. This is especially helpful when you have a baby or a kid, they go through clothing so quickly. A lot more brands are starting to have online sample sales which is awesome, especially if you are in a different city and can't attend in person.
But take those first steps. Question where your purchases come from and consider how much you really need something before you buy it, quality vs quantity. Stop viewing clothing as disposable, treat items with care and they will last longer. If rushing into being a conscious consumer seems frightening and impossible, take baby steps, you'll still get there.
If you are interested in learning more about conscious shopping, I can't recommend the Ethical Writers Coalition enough. Some of my personal favorites to follow along with are Holly Rose of Leotie Lovely and Alden Wicker of Eco Cult. Zady is also not only a great clothing brand but their site is extremely helpful. Check out The New Standard section on their site, they provide a very informative break down on fabric types and their impact. The Fashion Revolution website is full of information and great for tips on how you can get involved as well.