The fruit in your bowl is local produce, the meat on your plate is from grass-fed animals, your coffee is fair trade...but what about the shirt you’re wearing?
Unfortunately, the reality of the fashion industry is not a pretty one, with sustainability and ethics taking a back seat to mass production, cheap labour and low manufacturing costs. The True Cost documentary explains this reality in further detail.
Sustainability and ethics are sure to put a yawn on most faces. The good news is that, although the problems seem to be far away, you can make a big difference with your choices. Although there is little you can do physically, you can embrace the ‘slow fashion’ movement, which focuses on making ethical and eco-friendly fashion choices instead of supporting fast fashion, which thrives on seasonality, quantity rather than quality, and short-term trends.
What is slow fashion?
Companies in the slow fashion industry use sustainable methods to create clothing that lasts, while practicing ethical and environmentally-friendly methods.These garments will usually end up costing slightly more, but greatly benefit both the people behind the clothes and the environment.
Did you know? An item of ‘fast fashion’ clothing from one of the big fashion brands has an average lifetime of five weeks.
So, how can you easily adopt the principles of slow fashion?
1. Acknowledge that a real person made your clothes
Slow fashion is founded on knowing where your clothing comes from and paying attention to the fact that a real person actually made your clothing. It didn't pop out of a machine ready made. Once you think about the hands that made your clothes, the conditions in which they work will matter.
2. Use what you have
Before you buy your child a new outfit for that big event, shop his/her closet first and see what you can re-use and combine in different ways - get creative!
3. Resist “the deal”
A $15 bodysuit is a worry. Factor in labour and production costs and on top of that shipping costs as it probably would have come from overseas. It may sound like a good deal, but at what cost?
4. Less is more - choose quality over quantity
When it comes to slow fashion, the less-is-more concept applies. You buy less, as the clothes are more expensive, but the items last for years. If you decide to invest in quality and ethical brands, you might find that your baby’s clothes outlast his/her growth-spurts, and despite the everyday wear-and-tear, you will even be able to pass those clothes on to your next child or a neighbour.
Did you know? If you measure clothing prices against how much they cost, the cheaper garments will usually end up costing more because they need to be replaced more often.