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People’s shopping habits are dictated by ethical concerns and personal values. In an ideal world, we would all never buy fast fashion. Everyone would be wearing organic linen made by fairly paid garment workers who love their job and career. But that’s just not realistic for everybody. 

There are a few reasons people might need to buy fashion. They might have trouble finding clothing in their size (many fast fashion brands have plus-size ranges); they might not be able to access ethically made clothing where they live; or they just simply might not be able to afford the more sustainable fashion options. These are all valid reasons, and shaming someone for genuinely not having another choice isn’t fair. 

Is there a way to shop fast fashion brands without feeling like you’re hurting the planet? Here are a few ways to try your best when you just don’t have another choice. 

Don’t Let Price Dictate Value 

Just because something is cheap doesn’t mean you have to buy it. It also doesn’t mean it’s not worth anything. 

A garment’s price tag can often help decide whether something is worth buying, taking care of,  and ultimately not throwing away. Try to change that mentality. Cheap prices are where fast fashion companies get you. Why think about if you need that piece when it barely costs anything, right? 

When you shop mindfully, forget about how much (or rather, how little!) the piece costs, and really consider if you actually really need or want that piece. What’s enticing about it? The color? The fabric? Or the fact that it is incredibly affordable and buying it will give you a retail rush without any financial consequences? 

Stay Away From Trends 

Buying super trendy pieces is arguably the worst way to vote with your dollar. It shows companies that you don’t care about how ethical or sustainable they are, and it rewards them for quickly and cheaply producing this week’s Instagram trend in a blink of an eye. 

Trends will be gone in a matter of weeks, or possibly a few months at the most. When looking at more trendy pieces, consider why you’re attracted to them. Do you like it because it genuinely goes with your style, or has all the hype around it made you want to get your hands on it? 

It’s perfectly valid to enjoy trends. Fashion is exciting and seeing the new things everyone is wearing can be super fun – but financially supporting the companies that choose to use labor exploitation just to take part in these trends is not very fun at all. 

How do you know if something is trendy? 

  • You’ll see it all over Instagram. Bloggers are supposed to disclose when a piece is a gift or sponsored, so if you see the same kind of piece being sent to loads of Instagramers, that’s probably a brand’s attempt to build hype around a new trend. 
  • It will suddenly be all over fast fashion websites. These companies aren’t known for being very creative. Once something pops off, they will all jump on it immediately.  
  • It seemingly came out of nowhere. One day it wasn’t here and the next day it was. Keep a lookout for that pattern in certain styles. Chances are, it will disappear as quickly as it appeared. 

Be Prepared to Mend

Fast fashion is notorious for its low-quality garments. If you decide to purchase something from one of these companies, be prepared to fix small holes and anything else that might need to be mended during its time with you. 

If you throw away something the minute a button falls off or a seam starts to come loose, you’re contributing to the fast fashion cycle. By honoring your clothes and taking care of them (regardless of how cheap they are), you extend their life significantly and make that purchase a little bit more worth it. 

Most fast fashion is made by women who involuntarily sacrifice so much for the garment industry, the least we can do is respect the work they’ve done. 

Have a Look at Thrift Shops 

We know, this sounds like such an obvious suggestion. However, because people shop fast fashion so carelessly, so much of it ends up at thrift shops! This is perfect for shoppers struggling to find ethical size-inclusive clothing, or even just for people on a budget. 

It’s genuinely surprising how much fast fashion clothing is in thrift shops. What a perfect way to try that new craze without rewarding a brand directly for making the trendy piece! This way, you can enjoy their clothing without financially supporting them. 

If There’s a Will, There’s a Way

One brilliant thing about shopping ethically is that it can mean different things for different people. Buying a fast fashion dress and wearing it 400 times is arguably more conscientious than buying an ethically made garment that you only wear once. 

Think about what matters to you, shop mindfully, and have fun! 

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