Shopping Sustainably in Quarantine – Tips and Tricks to Avoid Fast Fashion

Whilst in quarantine, our bored thumbs are constantly tapping away at screens, ordering swimwear for holidays we’re desperate to book, or clothes for a friend’s wedding that has been postponed. This seemingly harmless way to fill spare time can result in endorsing the fast fashion industry - a trade that is not only unethical, but it is also having a severe environmental impact during a climate crisis.

Engaging in sustainable fashion can sometimes seem very daunting - almost as though you need to have completed endless research in order to start ethically shopping. This is not the case, and in an attempt to make sustainable fashion more readily accessible, here are seven hassle-free tips and tricks:

  • Occupy your time

One of the main causes of online consumerism is retail therapy; the endless hours of quarantine have injected us with the insatiable desire for quick gratification and an adrenaline rush – often supplied by online buys, along with the disposable time to enable these whims. However, you can try to reduce the amount of unnecessary purchases by occupying your time – it doesn’t need to be productive. Focus on what you enjoy, whether it be exercising self-care, meditating, or finally watching that series you’ve been putting off; you’ll feel far better for it (and your wallet will also thank you).

  • Create outfit inspiration boards

Whether you choose to do this digitally or physically, vision boards are a wonderfully creative way to avoid impulse buying, giving you a way to peacefully direct your energy, and encapsulate your style. This way, you will know exactly what pieces you require to complete your wardrobe, and you can make your style cohesive, instead of buying lots of one-offs that go with nothing else and ultimately spend the duration of their short lives in a pile at the bottom of your wardrobe. Plus, you get to spend your time searching through your favourite movies and magazines for style inspiration – bliss!

  • Upcycle

Repurpose the clothes you have however takes your fancy - you could choose to restyle pieces, build new outfits, or put your craft skills to the test and completely overhaul them. Adding a hem, removing sleeves, or playing with decals may seem like a small change, but some elastic, some dye, and some ill-fitting t-shirts are a combination that gives you the ability to refresh your wardrobe, and create a new set of clothes you can feel comfortable and confident in.

  • Shop from local and independent stores

Shopping locally and independently is another simple way to cut the fast fashion industry out of your sphere – you can venture to charity shops near you, find boutiques that source recycled vintage wear, or where the owner is also the designer. If you aren’t yet comfortable with leaving the house, online alternatives such as Etsy allow you to explore different independents, and support local businesses, which is vital during the pandemic.

  • Take care of your clothes

We all know that frustrating glass-of-red-wine-down-the-front-of-my-new-white-dress moment when a favourite piece of clothing gets ruined, and sometimes this is unavoidable, but one of the easiest ways to prevent using fast fashion is to look after the clothes you have. Make sure you actually read the care instructions label and follow it – not only will you be able to make a positive impact – but you’ll be able to keep your beloved jumper for much longer!

  • Donate unwanted clothes

If you’ve finally made the difficult decision to condemn your clothes, make sure you explore the options to reduce waste. You can donate unwanted garments to clothing banks, charity shops, and check with your friends – clothing swaps are also a great way to get that new clothes rush.

  • Download the Good On You app

Endorsed by Emma Watson, this app will do the research you don’t have time for – simply search a brand, and you will be provided with an overall rating, drawn from a score on three categories: ‘labour,’ ‘environment’ and ‘animal.’ There is also an optional breakdown of the policies, allowing a focus on what’s important to you. ‘Good On You’ will also give recommendations for similar brands with a better ethical and sustainable choices to make the transition as smooth as possible. You can download the app for free from the App or Play Store, or at the bottom of their journal website accessible here under ‘connect’. Alternatively, if you don’t yet wish to commit to the app, you can also search the ‘Good On You’ ratings directory here.

You don’t have to make the transition into a ‘perfect’ sustainable shopper overnight; even small changes such as the steps above give you the ability to make a huge social and environmental impact. Doing the best that you can is always enough.

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