Cheap ways to avoid fast fashion

Fast fashion is a big issue, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calculating that it causes 10% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions each year! On top of that, it also uses about 1.5 trillion litres of water annually. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the fashion industry exploits underpaid workers in the process of making their clothing lines. So there are many reasons to want to avoid fast fashion, but how do we do it when more sustainable clothing brands can cost quite the pretty penny? Well, I have a few Eco-friendly suggestions that won’t burn a hole in your pocket.

  1. Charity shops

My favourite places to shop are charity shops. You never know what you will find — some of my favourite, most unique clothing items are from Age UK or the Red Cross. And all the money you spend on your second-hand items are given to a good cause instead of fuelling fast fashion. What’s not to love? We’re lucky to have a lot of charity shops in the UK so why not look around, browse and have some fun. The only thing is that it is quite difficult looking for something specific. If you’re searching for a winter coat you might have to try a few different shops before finding one that’s your size, style and within your budget. So if it’s something specific you’re after, then that’s where Depop comes in.

Photo by Burst on

2. Depop

I only just found out about Depop a couple of months ago and I am already hooked. If you don’t know what Depop is, it’s an app that allows you to log on and see all sorts of people selling their clothing items for often quite affordable prices. This is a great place to find second hand clothing which is tailored to what you’re after. You can even adjust the settings for your size and price range, and save items to compare them later on. All of this is wonderful, but be wary as some sellers buy new items to sell on, and sometimes you might not even get your order, so make sure you check out the seller’s profile beforehand, looking out for their reviews and what they’ve previously sold. There’s no point buying from Depop to avoid fast fashion when the seller got their wares from Primark yesterday.

3. Making & fixing clothes

This is the most sustainable thing you can do when it comes to clothing. If you have a hole in your leggings, why not take out your sewing kit and patch it up yourself? This can be a bit daunting if you’re not used to it but there are tonnes of tutorials on Pinterest and Youtube that can help you out. And going a step further, why not re-purpose or make your own clothes? You could tie-dye an old shirt with some natural plant-based dyes, or even go a bit extra and watch more tutorials to learn how to make a skirt.

4. Car boot sales & Vintage fairs

Car boots and Vintage sales are again places where you can discover amazing second-hand items for a good price. Car boots often have things going very cheap and you don’t know what gems you could find there. Vintage sales might be a bit more pricey, but sometimes you can nab a bargain. I got an embroidered plaid shirt from a vintage sale for £5 and I’m still wearing it five years later.

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on

5. Clothing Swaps

Clothing swaps are an amazing eco-friendly initiative where you don’t have to spend any money. The main premise is that you bring some clothes along and add them to a table or clothing rack which you can then explore and find other clothes you want to take home. If you haven’t heard of any going on where you live, why not start one yourself? It’s probably not the best time to host one in a pandemic, but when all this has blown over, what’s stopping you? You could talk to your work, university or local council and see what they say. Alternatively, why not swap things on a smaller scale among friends? You might all find you something you want and you get to remember where it came from with a smile.

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