Words: Jocelyn Robinson
By no means am I writing this from a fully sustainable, no ‘fast-fashion’ perspective. At the age of 27, I can confirm that I am an easy target for good marketing. I am certainly swayed by social media’s adverts and I regularly check online for new, sensational outfits and products. I hope the reason I am being targeted is not due to my complete naivety, but because I just love fashion and new beauty products. But over the years, what I have grown to love and have begun educating myself on, is loving brands that are ahead of the sustainability and environmentally friendly game.
I am an avid Googler (but please choose any search engine of your choice) and find myself researching more and more, to see how sustainable or ‘kind’ brands are to both the environment and its workers.
However, I did not instinctively get to this point by myself. Partly, I was targeted by marketing (once again) but marketing that promoted ways to look after our wonderful world, then slowly I started researching myself. A friend of mine bought me Naked Fashion: The New Sustainable Fashion Revolution by Safia Minney for a birthday gift, and I cannot recommend this book enough. Something that was initially gifted as a coffee table book has become my ‘go to’ when I want to dip my toe into the reality of fast fashion and its harm on the world and its workforce.
Simply, it depicts the reality of how the brands we recognise and love treat the world. In the sweatshops in Bangladesh, 85% of their workers are women, or I should say girls, aged from 14 – 25. At 25, they are often sacked due to their poor eyesight, from working in the factories for 12 hours, 7 days a week for years. Plus, their fingers are no longer ‘small enough’ to work the machines. If this is not shocking enough; the fashion industry is the second largest polluter of clean water globally after agriculture. (site here)
There will always be incredible people that will live fast-fashion free and completely sustainable. And I applaud them. However, this often cannot be a reality. It is more expensive, time consuming and sometimes you just want to buy that top! Yet, I truly believe there are always things you can do to help.
Below I have written 10 simple tips that can support this movement…
- Look for products that are vegan and cruelty free. Surprisingly, there are more out there than you think. The easiest way to do this is type in the product you want e.g. lipstick and then type after ‘cruelty free’.
Look for natural products… No parabens, and sulphates like The Conscious Beauty Co. They are kinder on your skin and the less chemicals used means they are kinder on our planet.
- When on clothing websites, pay those additional few pounds for the Organic Cotton t-shirt. Not only does organic cotton use less water, it is not treated with pesticides, insecticides or herbicides. In addition, it ensures farmers are paid more for their crops and use less polluting farming methods.
- Sell your clothes on, we do not want to be throwing away clothes. If you can sell an outfit you no longer wear, someone else has a ‘new outfit’. It is a beautiful cycle!
- Offer the clothes you no longer wear to a friend - they may have use for it.
- Donate to charity shops.
- Look for outfit inspiration on social media platforms. I find I am often inspired by an outfit someone else has put together and I often already have the majority of the clothes already - I have just never thought to put them together!
- Buy sustainable and environmentally friendly products for friends. They hopefully will love them, then continue to buy them. You will be surprised, sometimes people just need a gentle push in the right direction, and you can do the groundwork for them.
- Do not berate yourself if you want something that is not sustainable. Just do something else to counteract it.
- Find products that offer refillables. Whether this is for your beauty routine such as The Conscious Beauty Co, or even food products. Many supermarkets are offering you to bring your own containers to refill with their dried cereals, fruit, and nuts, reducing plastic waste.
I believe it is incredible that we can try and help fix the environment but also stay in love with fashion and beauty at the same time. No one is telling us that it is a problem that is not reversible. But I understand that no single person can fix the environment, so please do not berate yourself or become too consumed. Do what you can, and remember… It is never too late to start!