#BeTheChange: Slow Fashion

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The fashion industry is one of the worst polluters in the world, second only to the oil industry. Let that sink in. It’s shocking, and not enough people are talking about it. Chances are, you’re wearing clothes right now…so this applies to you.

I love the idea of sharing our own stories, tried and tested ideas that can inspire and impact the lives of others and the world in a positive way. This story is about clothes, and I’d like to start by sharing a few more startling facts about fast fashion and the industry.

‘Fast fashion’ – cheap clothes following seasonal trends, a disposable take on clothing.

The fashion industry is currently responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions, that’s more annual carbon emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. Synthetic fibers, like rayon and polyester, take hundreds of years to decompose in our landfills and they shed microplastics each time you wash them. These plastics end up in our rivers, lakes, oceans, and in our food and own bodies. The apparel industry consumes 1.5 trillion liters of water each year. Textile dying contributes 20% of industrial wastewater worldwide. Take a look at the tags in your clothes, where were they made? Most of these factories are in countries without environmental regulations. This toxic wastewater is dumped untreated into the rivers. There are places in Bangladesh, for example, where the rivers run black with chemicals and dyes, there are no fish, and the people don’t have enough freshwater to drink. It’s mind blowing. The good news? We have the (buying) power to Be The Change!

My personal slow fashion strategy:

  1. Buy used clothes – Plato’s Closet, consignment, Once Upon A Child
    Time to flip the stigma of second-hand shopping! If I’m going clothes shopping for myself, the first place I look is Plato’s Closet, and for my son – Once Upon a Child. The main drivers for this are reducing consumption and finding alternative styles, the frugality is a bonus. Buying used things (not restricted to clothing) reduces waste, reduces consumption, and reduces our footprint on this planet.
  2. Buy less and buy better quality
    When I buy new clothes, I look for natural fibers like cotton, linen, and wool. I look for classic cuts and timeless designs. Clothes that look fashionable now, but also look as if they could have been sold in 1990, 1970, 1950…theses styles have stood the test of time. I love supporting Canadian brands, made in Canada.
  3. Mend clothes instead of chucking them
    My family is hard on clothes, and I regularly mend seams in pants and patch holes. Not everyone has a sewing machine, but luckily, every neighbourhood has a tailor or seamstress – which has the added benefit of supporting a local entrepreneur. This is not a thing of the past. We don’t need to live in a disposable society.
  4. Clothes swaps – my personal favourite!
    For over 15 years, my friends and I have been holding ‘clothes swaps.’ The more people you invite, the better the swap, and any unclaimed items get donated. It’s an awesome feeling: a) seeing someone’s face light up at something that you once enjoyed…new life breathed into old things, and; b) going home with a bag of new-to-you clothes that you didn’t have to pay for!

If you enjoy fashion and you want to stop contributing to the fast fashion industry, check out these websites:

Everyone loves a good sale. The turning point for me, was the realization that the price on the tag isn’t the only price we pay. Slowing down fashion slows down climate change.

At RVA, we believe that climate action not only relies on what our organization does, but on the individual choices we make each and every day. Our #BeTheChange stories seek to inform, challenge, and inspire people to learn about the impacts of climate change, and empower them to take make responsible choices at home and at work. By increasing climate literacy and promoting a culture of sustainability within our firm and beyond, we can help drive collective action at the scale required to facilitate the transition to a low-carbon future.