Dumping Fast Fashion: Why Buying Second Hand is the Way Forward

Dumping Fast Fashion: Why Buying Second Hand is the Way Forward

In an age where instant gratification is just so darn achievable, it’s hard to say no to something we want right this minute. Everybody wants cheap clothes, and in an ideal world, they would all be produced ethically. It’s all well and good picking up Primark’s finest bits and bobs without having to deal with a hefty price tag, but can we really guarantee that the places our clothes are coming from are ethically sourced? And it’s not just the low-cost companies that are the problem: with bigger, more expensive brands like Victoria’s Secret and Beyonce’s line Ivy Park being called out for unethical practices, can we trust anyone at all?

It’s easy to shove all that ethical and environmentally friendly business to the back of our minds and pretend that it doesn’t concern us when we’re browsing Topshop’s latest stock, but in reality it does concern us. We are responsible for our planet, and we are responsible for the health and happiness of our fellow human beings, whether they’re people we know personally or not. These are the things that we should be training ourselves to actively think about when we make a purchase, because it has become all too common to sweep it all under the rug. Does it really matter that the person who sewed your garments is a child, or is paid a suitable amount for them to survive, or has clean water that isn’t polluted by dyes? Does all that stuff matter when that dress looks so good on you?

It’s time to start having a guilty conscience and making active changes when it comes to the way we think about fashion.

The average consumer spends over £1000 on clothes each year – a pretty hefty amount. That can add up to a whole lot of new items, and inevitably a whole lot of clothes ending up as waste. Fast fashion is a fun concept for anyone – the ever-changing fashion industry is fun to follow online and in magazines, and even more fun to join in with – but it’s having a devastating impact on our environment that goes way beyond the sweatshops we’ve all heard plenty about. Dyes used on the fabrics that make our favourite prints and patterns are polluting water worldwide – in fact, textile dyeing is the one of the largest contributors to the pollution of clean water, second only to agriculture. On top of that, microfibres that come off our clothes when we wash them are making their way through our drains and into our oceans, and they don’t biodegrade – that poses a huge threat to our fishy friends, who go on to consume these tiny fibres, and if you eat fish, you’re more than likely consuming those microfibres through them, too. Not to mention that cotton is often picked by children in dire conditions, and it also takes a whole lot of water to grow, causing a higher risk of draught in these areas.

In addition to the questionable sources of the clothing that we fork out our cash for, we should really be considering the aftermath of fast fashion, too. In the UK, we throw out more than a million tonnes of clothing every year. Clothing that, for the most part, could have been donated, recycled, or sold on to another loving home. The more we buy, the more we chuck out, and all of our once-fashionable pieces are sadly ending up in landfills.

I know we’ve all been through the “I’ve got nothing to wear!” drama whilst staring into a wardrobe that’s fit to burst. There are a multitude of reasons why we might abandon our once-loved (or even never-before-touched) items of clothing: they don’t fit, they have a stain or a rip, we don’t like them anymore, or they just don’t go with anything. But instead of going straight to the closest black bin bag with all those things and then heading straight to the shops for a brand new look, think about how your old apparel can be reworked or rehomed, and how you could give a new home to something else. Selling to your friends or on sites like eBay or Depop will gain you a bit of cash back, or even better, you could donate to one of your local charity shops who will sell it all on for good, or donate to people and places that could use the help. It seems like common sense, but with the amount of clothes ending up in our landfills, it sounds like a lot of people are overlooking these simple steps and just opting for the closest bin. If you didn’t know, there are even clothing, shoe, and textile recycling points that you can take tattered, stained, or ripped bits and bobs to if you don’t think they’re worthy of a new home, so that even your most bedraggled attire can find a new use.

There’s even more you can do: shop second hand and love clothes for longer. You can find pretty much anything you want for second hand, whether it’s online or browsing vintage stores and charity shops. Minimise the amount of clothes ending up in landfills and the amount of strain placed on the fast fashion industry by buying preloved – Depop is my personal favourite second hand platform, where I’ve picked up brand new items, still with the tags on, for half the original price, or at the very least things that have been worn a few times but are still in perfect condition. In fact, the bulk of my wardrobe is full of clothes from either eBay or Depop, and all of my favourite pieces are second hand. Second hand doesn’t necessarily mean old, but we all know that the vintage look is always a winner anyway.

Making small changes to the way we shop all adds up – set yourself a challenge to buy no new clothes for a month or two, or to only shop second hand for the next five pieces you buy, and you’re already on your way there. It feels good to be greener!

Want to see a lookbook of my favourite preloved garms? Let me know!


6 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Use (And Save Our Oceans)

6 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Plastic Use (And Save Our Oceans)

It’s time to get serious.

We all know that there’s a global plastic problem, and it’s impacting on our oceans more than ever. Forbes have recently reported on another whale found washed up on the coast of Spain, and the cause of death was determined to be ingesting 64 pounds of plastic waste. And this isn’t a rare occurrence either. Last year, a whale was found dying off the coast of Norway with 30 plastic bags in its stomach. Sea life is swallowing, choking on, getting tangled in, and trapped amongst our plastic waste on a daily basis.

There’s no beating around the bush here: we caused this. Every time one of us buys veg in plastic wrap, a plastic water/coke/lemonade bottle, a disposable coffee cup from Starbucks, or a plastic bag, we are contributing to the mammoth plastic problem.

A quick Google search will tell you that plastic takes up to 1000 years to decompose in landfills, and yet most of us use plastic items every single day. In fact, more than 300 million tonnes of plastic is produced every single year, and a measly 10% of that gets recycled, but a whopping 8 million metric tonnes end up in our oceans. We only seem to care about what’s in the ocean when we go for a dip in the Mediterranean and find ourselves floating amongst a dirty nappy and somebody’s absconded bottle of sun cream, but it’s a global problem, and one that we need to start thinking seriously about. So what can we do to cut down, and how can we help?

1. Actually reuse your bags for life.

This is a really easy one. They’ll save you 5p every time you do a shop, so there’s no reason to leave them behind. Or, if you’d rather, you can invest in a cute canvas tote bag if you want something a little more personal. There are tonnes or reusable bags on the market, so there’s no excuse to still be picking up new plastic bags every time we shop when we all have a drawer filled with 100 at home.

2. Pick up a reusable water bottle.

I haven’t bought a plastic bottle in months since I copped this bottle from Amazon. You can get them in a million colours and styles, so there’s something for everyone. I opted for this one because it’s a full 500ml, as some other bottles can be a little small. These are so handy to have because you can fill them up pretty much anywhere – ask in a coffee shop or bar and they will happily refill your bottle for you. This will save you money in the long run, as you’ll no longer have to pay for water when you’re out and about, and it also keeps your drinks colder (or hotter) for longer! Plus, if you didn’t know, plastic can release harmful chemicals into your drinks which can impact on your chances of having a baby and increase your risk of heart disease, so a reusable bottle is better for your health too.

3. Invest in a reusable travel mug.

Every year, 100 billion single use coffee cups make their way to our landfills. Even if you don’t pick up a coffee that often, having an eco-friendly travel mug on hand saves our land and oceans from one more plastic lid, and lots of chains have started offering money off your drink when you bring your own cup, so this investment could actually end up paying for itself. I got this super cute one from Amazon for the occasional hot chocolate I grab from Costa, and it keeps my drink hotter for way longer than your standard disposable cup. This one is made from naturally organic bamboo fibre, and it’s biodegradable.

4. Grab some metal straws.

I’m telling you, this has been one of the best purchases I have ever made. I picked these ones from Amazon because the packaging was plastic-free, the straws themselves come in a little bag that makes it so easy to pop them in my bag, and they even come with a handy little cleaner so I can clean them super easily. In the UK alone, we go through approximately 8.5 billion straws a year – a number which makes me feel sick to my stomach. Instead of dishing out plastic straws with every drink, we could easily make a swap to paper, or even better, these metal ones, to save a sea turtle from choking.

5. Opt for beauty products with less (or at the very least, recycled) packaging.

Taking a few steps towards a zero-waste beauty routine, or at the very least a zero-waste shower routine, would cut down on our plastic use drastically. Think about all the things in your bathroom that are made out of plastic: containers and packaging for liquid soap, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, face wash, and so much more. Not forgetting that pesky plastic toothbrush. Pick a couple of things in your bathroom to replace with plastic-free options, and you’re already doing your bit. Opt for a luxurious bar of soap that comes packaged in paper wrapping rather than plastic, switch to shampoo and conditioner bars (Lush have a great range of zero-waste stuff, and of course they smell amazing), grab you and your family a pack of bamboo toothbrushes, and you’re well on your way to converting your bathroom to a plastic-free space.

6. Say no to plastic cutlery.

Disposable cutlery is so easily avoidable, so whether you opt for a wooden alternative or simply carry round a standard fork or spoon in your bag, it’s a really easy change to make. You can even get portable cutlery kits that come in handy little cases that you can carry about with you!

I’m well aware that most of these tips involve splashing a little bit of cash, and not everyone has the opportunity to do that. But every little change makes a difference, and just starting with the small stuff can help you on your way to bigger changes. I’m by no means suggesting that I’m some kind of zero-waste queen, but I try to do my bit where I can, and I think that everyone else can find small ways to chip in too. Just being more conscious of your plastic usage is the best way to start tackling our plastic problem.

Got any more tips? Let me know!