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SUSTAINABLE FASHION: Wear and Tear, How Will We Fare?

By Sharlene Nguy and Ava Henderson

After browsing clothes from store to store, your eyes finally zero in towards the cutest top you have ever seen… in the discount section. You have been scouring the universe for so long now and the developing frustration of skimming through racks of clothes, checking the price tags, and defeatedly hanging it back up has made you desperate. Giving an exasperated sigh as you question the cost of the mere flimsy piece of cloth, you hesitate momentarily before you decide to try it on anyway.  But as you’re trying it on, you are thinking, should you buy it? But are you really thinking enough?

Jeff Ruloff

Fast fashion has taken over the fashion industry with its appeal of inexpensive prices and up to date on the current fashion trends. Despite how attractive this sounds on the surface level, it is quite terrible if you dig a little deeper. What makes fast fashion so unideal is that it contributes to unethical issues such as poor working conditions as the clothing is made in poor factories, environmental issues due to the fact the toxins are being dumped into the environment. We all know one of the various solutions to fast fashion is to stop purchasing from these types of stores and just buy from sustainable stores. However, consumers are at a crossroads. Whereas sustainable clothes are overall beneficial, socially and environmentally, they really break the bank, fast fashion items are seemingly affordable as they hide their true cost and dire consequences behind a discount price tag. 

There are multiple factors that contribute to why sustainable clothing is so expensive. Pertaining to sustainable clothing, every factor is weighed. From what will happen when it is created to what will happen when it is disposed of. It is generally more expensive because it is an investment. You are paying for clothes that are of good quality- it will last longer, produce less waste, and is ethically supportive. Quality is key.

Sustainable clothing is so expensive for the reason of (but not limited to) the cost of fabric, cost of labour, ensuring ethical practices, and many other reasons. The cost of fabric has so many sub-factors that make it so expensive. For example, sustainable fabrics are sourced from plants (cotton) or animals. These natural resources are produced and farmed which costs more compared to synthetic materials. Not only that, these materials must be farmed in a sustainable method that requires paying farmers and weavers justly. The cost of labour is a pressing issue as it needs to be ensured that ethically run sewing facilities pay their employees well and respect the basic human rights to contribute to a safe working environment. Ethical clothing is expensive, yet you are paying for more than just a shirt or a pair of pants. Hence, it is a worthwhile investment. However, there are other alternatives to buying ethical clothes such as thrifting, renting and doing a clothing swap. 

The pressure to be more sustainable is on. Yet, there are not a lot of affordable alternatives to buying sustainable clothes. It is almost ironic that people who want to help support sustainable companies are unable to afford it, and the people who can afford it choose not to buy it. 

One of the best options is the thrift stores. It may take a little more work and effort, but the end result will leave you feeling unique. There has long been a stigma about thrift stores. Most people don’t want to buy from them because they think clothes from them are all ugly and unclean. However, this stigma is starting to change. Luckily people are realizing that a brand new t-shirt is not worth $20 when they could get a similar one for $8 at a thrift store. Not only will this option save you money, but it can be fun too. If you are able to make a day out of it and go with friends, it can be a lot of fun, and you can end up with a new piece you would have never found otherwise. Additionally, there are online thrift stores such as ThredUP.com that make thrifting even easier and more efficient. There are thousands of items to browse through, which makes it impossible not to find something you’ll love. Some items are even considered “designed” which means that they are high-end brands for less than half the price!

Odan Jaeger

Another alternative to starting your sustainable wardrobe is renting clothes. Although this means you won’t actually be keeping the clothes in your closet, it still serves the same purpose. Renting clothes is especially useful for a night out when you want to wear something special, but probably never again. By renting the outfit rather than buying, you will have access to high end and fashionable clothes, at a reasonable price! Dresst.ca is a great site for anyone who needs a special dress. Additionally, Reheart is another good alternative for everyday wear and also offers rentable clothing.  

Furthermore, participating in a clothing swap at your school, workplace, or community can provide you with a great way to get new clothes at no cost. How it works is that each person brings any clothes that they want to trade and then you can bargain to get something that you like. This is a great alternative because it costs nothing, it is sustainable, and more importantly, it’s fun! If there are no clothing swaps in your area, you can always start one with your friends, or organize one for the community. 

Being sustainable can be just as hard because it is expensive but knowing why it’s expensive plays a key role when deciding what to buy, and where to buy it from. Purchasing sustainable clothing is an investment as they are clean, conscious and earth-friendly. 

After reading this article, it’s our hope that you are able to understand what goes into making sustainable clothing, and what are the possible options you have to not only save your wallet but also the Earth!

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