What is Ethical Fashion?
Start writing a post
Lifestyle

Window Shopping Is Fun, But Ethical Shopping Is Impactful

There's a connection between climate change, the fashion industry, and human rights.

126
Window Shopping Is Fun, But Ethical Shopping Is Impactful

What exactly is ethical fashion?

This is the question I asked myself several months ago, and it's the question that started my spiral into the world of ethical and sustainable shopping.

Basically, having an ethical, sustainable mindset when it comes to fashion means being thoughtful about what you buy and where you buy it from. And I won't lie, it's hard.

Production chains, especially for clothing companies, are extremely complex and companies often can't guarantee what kind of conditions their products were made in. It can be especially difficult if you're a college student barely getting by, like myself. What really, really got to me and made me rethink the way I buy clothes was watching a documentary called "The True Cost" for one of my college classes.

This film documents the way most of our "fast fashion" trends are produced and sold, and the conditions in which the workers are treated. From this, I started looking at the way our current fashion industry impacts the environment, and spoiler alert, it's not good. Everything from an unbelievable amount of excess plastic waste from packaging and production, the toxic materials and gases that go unregulated from big corporation factories to the causes that some companies donate to and support.

All of these things had me taking a deep dive into where I get my clothes. What I learned wasn't really a shock. Most of the companies I've bought from and supported are integral players in the fast fashion industry. A lot of the brands I'm used to buying from have terrible working conditions, pay their workers unfairly, and have a terrible environmental impact.

So, why should I care? Why should you care?

Because our world runs on the basis of caring about other people. How they're treated, how they survive, how they can improve their lives and contribute to our ever-growing industries. We've become accustomed to a high-speed world. A world of mass-produced goods that we rarely give a second thought to where they've come from or how they affect the world we live in.

Take popular brands like Forever 21. In an effort to keep up with fast fashion, they're constantly creating new styles to stay on-trend and low-cost, routinely using toxic chemicals and dyes that seep into the water of the countries where the clothing is made. And in turn, damage the water supply of where we live when we wash them.

Not to mention the damage that's done by the almost 11 million tons of clothing that's thrown away each year in the US alone. Pieces of clothing filled with these hazardous materials take forever to break down (if they do at all), and they spend the rest of their life span releasing toxic chemicals into the air and the land they occupy.

The human beings who make these clothes, for wages far less than they should be paid, are exposing themselves to these chemicals on a daily basis. The workers who make clothes in the fast fashion industry are proven to be mistreated, underpaid, underfed, and often physically abused. What's worse is that most have no other option when it comes to putting food on the table.

If any of that makes you rethink the way you get your clothes, there are other options out there. There are many established brands, and several new ones making an appearance every day, that are fair-trade, ethical, and sustainable. Shopping from responsible brands can give you peace of mind when you wear new clothes you've bought.

The one thing about ethical fashion is that it can tend to be on the expensive side because the quality is so high. Clothes made ethically and sustainably will last longer than any fast fashion apparel and the price tag reflects that. While I'm all for trading low cost for high quality, as a college student it's not something I can realistically afford and I know a lot of other people are in the same boat. However, there is a solution.

Secondhand fashion.

Thrift stores. Consignment. Clothing swaps. Online secondhand shopping. All of these are great ways to shop ethically on a budget. By shopping secondhand you're giving pieces of clothing a second life and allowing them to get the most wear possible. You also aren't directly supporting brands that operate unethically. Instead of buying a brand new piece of clothing, buying something secondhand reduces the amount being bought new from the store. So, you can buy that Forever 21 sweater secondhand without a guilty conscience. For me, secondhand shopping is a win-win. It's more ethical, more sustainable, and it's affordable. It's a great way to employ the "reduce, reuse, recycle" motto.

Another way to benefit from secondhand shopping is by selling or trading your old clothing. Instead of throwing it away, potentially releasing those toxic chemicals into your local water supply, take it to your local consignment store. Let someone else benefit from the things you no longer need.

The bottom line? Ethical shopping is difficult, but worth it when you see the impact it can have on our planet and working human beings.

It all comes down to being thoughtful. Asking questions. Where did this come from? Who made it? Does this company operate within my personal ethical code? Do they support causes I want my money going to?

How often can I wear this?

Is there a certain season this caters to the most? If so, can I wear it for the next 5 years and still be happy with it?

Does this work for the rest of my wardrobe? How do I feel when I wear it? Will I regret long term walking away from this purchase? Do I already have something similar? Can I put my money towards something better?

These questions can avoid the pile-up of fast fashion items in our wardrobes and ensure that we're shopping with a purpose.

If we all took a step back and asked more questions about where our clothes come from, we'd be one step closer to an entire world full of ethical shoppers. The best advice I can give to anyone who wants to look into ethical fashion/shopping: don't take my word for it. I am by no means an expert. Do more research, find the brands that inspire you (and your budget). I'm a beginner at this, just like a lot of people, but you're one search away from starting a responsible, eco-friendly, shopping journey.

The links below can provide further insight into ethical shopping and what it means to shop sustainably:

Building an Ethical Wardrobe

What is Fast Fashion Anyway?

Compare Ethical Brands

Ethical Brands on a Budget

Online Secondhand Shopping

Responsible Brand Directory

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Swoon

23 Pandemic-Approved Date Ideas That'll Send Sparks Flying From Six Feet Apart

There's a safe way to date right now and yes, it includes masks.

59093

While some people would rather opt out of dating altogether during the pandemic so they don't have to wear a mask on a first date, others are choosing to listen to both guidelines and their heart in order to find love during the time of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Should you be one of the individuals welcoming romance right now, there are pandemic-approved dates you can go on that still adhere to guidelines (and yes, you'll have to wear a mask).

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

20 Books About Latin And Hispanic Heritage Absolutely Everyone Should Have On Their Bookshelf

Any ally of the community needs to be reading these incredible reads.

1006

I go through phases when it comes to what I like to read. I am typically reading two books at any given time: one serious nonfiction and one escapist fiction novel to have on hand and open up depending on my mood.

What remains consistent, however, amongst most of my fellow bibliophiles is a desire to try new and different authors and genres. I, as an Indian woman, have been partial to reading books written by fellow Indian and Desi writers since I first got a library card.

Keep Reading... Show less

In our patriarchal society, men hide from their feelings, but toxic masculinity is literally killing men. They swallow the pain and move on so that they can look, feel, and act "tough."

But, strength is derived from asking for help and voicing your struggle and, trust me, working on your mental health is one hell of a struggle. The real way to "man up" is to acknowledge the downfalls in unjust societal norms. Mental health problems do not mean that a man is weak, they are neurologically-based disorders that require professional treatment.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

I Asked 46 Women What They Thought About The Term 'Plus-Size', And Here's What They Had To Say

It's 2020, where change is inevitable and norms are not only questioned, but challenged.

450

We live in a world where it's become customary to push boundaries, break rules, and question standards upheld by society. Though try as we might, some of these standards are harder to conquer than others — body image is one of the top contenders.

For years, the body positivity movement has pushed for the acceptance of all marginalized body types not represented or celebrated in the media. Recently, we've gotten better at appreciating and accepting all body types, but one thing that's still lingering is the stigma of body image in the fashion industry — more specifically, the term "plus-size."

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

Sorry, But 'I Don’t Care About Politics' Is Not A Valid Excuse For NOT Voting

The younger generation of voters is so crucial to the upcoming election because our vote is going to shape the world that we are about to enter as adults.

18251

When I ask my friends if they are voting this term most of them respond with "no" followed by an explanation of "I don't care enough," "It doesn't affect me," or "I don't keep up with politics," etc. I get it, as a college student I know that there are many other things to be concerned about like school, relationships, work, and friends. I also understand that keeping up with politics can seem like trying to keep up with an over-exaggerated reality show that has way too many seasons. Not to mention most news stations and websites are biased so it's hard to decipher if what you hear is true or fake.

However, despite all of this annoyance, as the next generation of Americans, we have to remember that we owe it to ourselves, our families, and to our futures to care.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Taylor Swift Sang 'betty' At The ACMs And It Was The Perfect First Live 'folklore' Performance

I guarantee that Inez is spreading rumors about how fire this performance was.

962
CBS

The Academy of Country Music Awards were last night and the performances were wonderful, but Taylor Swift's live version of "betty" from her newest album "folklore" really took the cake for me.

Keep Reading... Show less
Photo by Anna Hernández-Buces

"Do you have big parties on Cinco de Mayo?"

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

9 Reasons I Unfollowed All The Fitness Influencers On My Instagram Feed

I don't need to feel bad about myself because of who I follow on social media.

344

Throughout quarantine, something that a lot of us picked up on was working out. With all the free time, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to work on that "dream bod" you've been wanting for years, or to just feel good about yourself.

A common way to stay motivated and keep yourself on-task is to follow fitness influencers on various platforms. For some people, yes, this can be a healthy and helpful way to keep your drive. In other cases, however, this can do more harm than good.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

The Ultimate Guide To Being A Latinx And Hispanic Community Ally

Educate and celebrate their culture to lift the community up.

802

It's well known that the Gen-Z and millennial generations are more passionate about social justice and conscious about their decisions as consumers as any other generation to come before us.

For these generations, making mindful decisions about where we like to allocate our money, who we choose to follow on Instagram, and even the books we like to read are extremely important to us. With the rise of the digital age, we are constantly consuming media and content, and so there's no longer an excuse for being uneducated if we want to be educated on a wide range of cultures.

Keep Reading... Show less

It was a day we all knew would possibly come but hoped it never would. The day the outbreak hit.

I remember, back in March, I was just about to return home from a socially distanced vacation in my Florida home with my mom and grandpa, when my dad called to tell us he was feeling sick. At the time, President Trump hadn't closed the borders, my school was still going back after Easter, and sheer panic hadn't yet flooded our news outlets. We were meant to return home on Saturday, but when the borders closed on Thursday, things got a little more serious.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

21 Romance Novels You'll Fall In Love With By The Fire

It's time to cozy up and fantasize about our fav fictional love stories.

282

Recently, I found myself reading a bunch of romance novels and it's truly unleashing the romantic side of me. With fall weather nearing, it's the perfect time to cozy up with a good book and ignite the romantic flame in your hearts with the turn of every page.

Here are 21 romantic books you should read this fall, some I've read (hence the reviews), and some I'm hoping to get my hands on.

Keep Reading... Show less

There is a lot going on in the world right now, much of which is contributing to the mental health crisis we've found ourselves in. While it would be fantastic to snap our fingers and jump out of our rut, that's not exactly how these things work. Thankfully, small, sustainable steps can make a huge difference in your mental wellbeing.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

These 10 Oversized Graphic Tees Are JUST As Cute As Urban Outfitters — And They're All Under $30

There is never a bad time to get some new oversized graphic tees, especially when they're all under $30.

6593

While we all love Urban Outfitters' graphic tees, it can be hard to justify a $40 T-shirt, so I am always on the hunt to find cheaper alternatives that are just as stylish! Thrifting is always an option for authentic, vintage tees, but we don't always have the time to search through the endless aisles of Goodwill.

Lucky for you, there are still affordable alternatives that don't require quite as much effort.

Keep Reading... Show less

On Monday, "Dancing with the Stars" returned to our televisions with their 29th season. This season featured a lot of different changes including a new host, a new judge as well as a new judging system.

Among these changes, there were also changes to account for the coronavirus pandemic. Some of these changes included practicing socially distancing as well as different filming practices.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments