As August draws to a close and September approaches, I would like to issue a challenge to everyone buying clothes for Fall or back-to-school:

I challenge YOU to NOT buy fast fashion this Fall.

What is “fast fashion?”  In case you are unaware, the global garment industry is horrifying.  In order to bring us new designs every single day, people are working as slaves and literally dying.  Children younger than mine are working for pennies, are separated from their families and are literally dying.  If the human cost isn’t bad enough, the environmental cost is tragic.  The garment industry is the second largest global polluter next to the oil industry.  In order to keep costs low, something has to give and in countries like Bangladesh, safe and ethical manufacturing is what gives.  I cannot pretend to be an expert on fast fashion, but I also can’t pretend it isn’t happening.  When I see a garment for less than $10, I can’t pretend that the price is just that low.  It’s that low because someone or something is paying the cost that I’m not.

I know that thrifted tees are more than this, but at least you're not contributing to fast fashion if you buy secondhand. The bottom line is not always most important.
I know that thrifted tees can cost more than this, but at least you’re not contributing to fast fashion if you buy secondhand. The bottom line is not always most important.

I don’t want you to feel guilty or judged.  I just want you to stop being inert.  Most of us know fast fashion isn’t good but we don’t quite know what to do about it, and we doubt that just one person can make a difference.  To that I say, if you’re doing something about it, you’re making a difference and that is good enough.  And what can we do about fast fashion?  Here are a few ideas:

1. This Fall, do not buy NEW clothing from brands like Zara, H&M, Joe Fresh, Wal-Mart, Children’s Place,  Forever 21, Gap/Old Navy/Banana Republic or anywhere else you find garments at super low prices.  I know, I know; fast fashion is alluring.  It is trendy, stylish, cool and cheap – it’s hard to resist.  If you have a kid or three or more, you will have an even harder time resisting the low prices of fast fashion to outfit your family.  If you are having a hard time resisting, check out some of these links about fast fashion to bolster your resolve.

2. Buy garments made in Canada, made in the US or made ethically like my favourite belts, Flatter Me Belts.

3. Buy garments made locally and other sustainable labels.

4. Homemade garments are NOT fast fashion!  So if you are lucky enough to know how to sew or knit, make yourself some awesome, unique pieces!

This thrifted tee is handmade! So that’s a doubly whammy against the fast fashion industry!

5. Shop secondhand.  Many of us cannot afford to shop sustainable brands but that is no excuse to revert to fast fashion.  Shop secondhand via thrift, consignment, buy-and-sell pages, Kijiji, etc.  If you’re not buying new, you’re throwing a cog into the machine of fast fashion.

6. Do a clothing swap.  This is a good one if you like the novelty of new clothes but don’t really need anything, or if you have kids of compatible ages with another family…  Be creative, get involved in your community and swap rather than buy new.

7. Consume less.  I grew up getting new clothes for school every year however that’s the only time we got new clothes.  Fast fashion didn’t exist then.  Now, people buy inexpensive low quality garments any time throughout the year…  Instead of automatically getting new clothes for Fall, consider if you *need* to consume more.  Wear your clothes longer – buy quality long-lasting pieces that spark joy!  Use accessories to change the look of your pieces and call yourself Parisian chic!  After going through my kids’ closets, I realized they need almost nothing for back-to-school clothing.  I thrifted my oldest son some jeans in a bigger size, passed his old ones onto his brother, and got my daughter a couple of cute outfits.  I spent less than $25 on a sale day and got what we needed.

Gymboree pants, CK hoodie, 75 cent tee - she'll be perfectly happy in these thrifted threads!
Gymboree pants, CK hoodie, 75 cent tee – she’ll be perfectly happy to start kindergarten in these thrifted threads!

They also wanted to get some new cheap t-shirts…

Fall Fast Fashion Challenge

But I said no.  I explained a bit about fast fashion and said we would have more fun thrifting for some unique t-shirts and they were totally fine with that.

No one else will have this t-shirt in 5th grade! We both think it's hilarious.
No one else will have this t-shirt in 5th grade! We both think it’s hilarious.

Did you catch that?  All you need to do is say no.  I hope that this Fall Fast Fashion Challenge will “change the way you think about what you wear.” (The True Cost movie)  Consuming fast fashion will not buy you happiness.  Every consumer has the power to become an “activist” simply by making different choices when it comes to clothing.  The next time you go to “like” a fashion photo featuring a fast fashion brand, think twice.  The next time you think you might as well pick up a top while you’re getting groceries, realize how ridiculous that is, then say no.  One choice at a time, let’s make an impact on the fast fashion industry.  Who’s with me?!!

 

6 Comments

  1. Awesome!  Thank you so much for the educational links in your blog post.  I am anti-fast fashion and have officially been a thrifter since 2001.  I feel good about my choices, and I also enjoy the compliments that I receive on my unique outfits that reflect my personality and beliefs.  I greatly enjoy your blog and instagram postings too 🙂 Thanks!

  2. The Spirited Thrifter Reply

    I’m sorry but I had a hard time discerning the “fast fashion” brands from the Googling I did. In the past, *i think* Geoxx and Nike have been implicated. I would suggest looking for where the shoes are made as your best bet for avoiding fast fashion.

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