How to achieve sustainable fashion in the future

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There is no doubt: the fashion industry is far from sustainable. Massive amounts of energy and natural resources are needed to meet global demand for clothing, footwear and accessories.

Although there has been increased pressure on fashion brands and textile manufacturers to reform, the resulting efforts have dwindled to little more than greenwashing. Much more will need to be done before the fashion industry is close to carbon neutral.

In the meantime, individuals have the power to take matters into their own hands. They won’t transform the industry, but they will embody the change they hope to see at higher levels and magnitudes.

With that in mind, let’s look at six ways individuals can achieve sustainable fashion in the future:

Buy a second hand

The unsustainable nature of the modern fashion industry comes down to the volume of textiles produced. This production depends on demand. But what if demand drops because more people choose to buy used items? Buying used clothes extends the life of clothes that would otherwise be thrown away. When individuals opt for second-hand fashion, they avoid spending money on new items, which lowers demand over time.

Shop sustainable

While the fashion industry as a whole has so far not taken the initiative to develop sustainable practices, individual companies have chosen to bring eco-friendly options to consumers. From biodegradable shoes to clothes made from recycled materials, there are plenty of sustainable alternatives to traditional fashion. While some of these offerings may prove to be more experimental than practical, others are shaping up to be durable replacements in the future.

Invest in quality

It’s nearly impossible to completely avoid unsustainable fashion. Sooner or later you will have to buy new jeans and other clothes that are difficult to make in an ecological way. With that in mind, think about prioritizing quality over quantity. In other words, buy items that are made to last more than a few years. Part of the problem with cheap “fast” fashion is the relatively short lifespan of the typical garment. By investing in slightly more expensive alternatives due to the expectation of durability, you reduce the amount of clothing you buy over your lifetime.

Stick to classic styles

Those interested in style might be wondering what’s the point of buying clothes that last if the style goes out of fashion in a year or two. The answer to this conundrum is to stick with classic styles that never go out of style. Denim jeans, khakis, canvas sneakers, black dresses and pea coats are just a few examples of timeless fashion. Additionally, high quality items can be found at reasonable prices.

Avoid throwing

Do everything you can to avoid throwing away clothes and shoes. While no one wants a holey t-shirt covered in stains, any item of clothing that appears to be in good condition should be donated to your local goodwill or the Salvation Army. Depending on the brand and quality, you may even be able to resell your old items to alternative thrift stores. The less clothes and shoes you throw away, the less you contribute to the high volume of fashion-related waste piling up in landfills across the planet.

Take care of clothes and shoes

The instructions found on the beacons are there for a reason; they provide useful information regarding the proper care and maintenance of clothing and footwear. The better you take care of your clothes and shoes, the longer these items will last. With that in mind, start following the care instructions provided by the manufacturer. If it says to wash in cold water and air dry on a clothesline, that’s because it will keep the shirt looking newer for longer.

The sad reality is that the fashion industry is far from sustainable. But that doesn’t mean consumers can’t take the initiative and start respecting sustainable fashion choices. The burden should not fall on the individual, but the longer we continue to support the industry as it exists, the longer it will take to see it change. Consider these choices a moderate form of protest. If enough people do it, change will move from a possibility to a certainty.

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