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Everyone likes a good deal, but not every deal is good for us – or for the planet. That’s why this Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend is a great time to think about ethical and sustainable shopping. If you’re looking to refresh your style, here are some tips for dealing with sustainable fashion, and some stylish brands that will find clever ways to make Black Friday Green Friday.
Fashion doesn’t look very good when you consider the amount of waste involved in making and disposing of clothes. Many large stores offer cheap clothes, but their “fast fashion” model exploits workers, uses enormous amounts of natural resources, and pollutes the environment with toxic carbon, dyes and microplastic waste. It’s horrifying that fast fashion is the second most polluting industry after the oil and gas sector.
In addition, millions of tons of clothing are simply thrown away every year. According to ethical fashion monitors Good on You, 80% of discarded garments in landfills or incinerators have (on average) been worn only seven times.
So what can you do? Good on You suggests three questions to ask before buying new clothes on Black Friday (and you can apply these ideas to the, not only this weekend but all year round):
1. How much do I already own?
2. How much will I wear it?
3. How long will it last?
“If you do want to buy new ones, give yourself the strength to make ethical choices,” says Good on You. “Do your best to choose something from a brand that has a positive impact on the planet and its people.” The Good on You online directory and app rates brands, from boutiques you may be new to well-known, big-name stores. Each brand is judged on labor conditions, environmental performance and use of animal products on a sliding scale from “not good enough” through “it’s a start” to “great”.
Buying clothes from sustainable brands can be expensive, but Good on You notes that higher quality, better quality clothes last longer and are a better investment when you consider the cost per item of clothing. And when it comes to cheap clothes, you often get what you pay for. “So many of the products listed as ‘great deals’ are products of planned obsolescence,” said Aja Barber, sustainable fashion expert. “That sweater you bought that you don’t really like, but felt compelled to buy because it was ‘on sale’? It’s made of low-quality material that is offered at a lower price for Black Friday. “Don’t get to do something you never really wanted. You’re going to get a dopamine rush.”
And put yourself in the shoes of the person who made that sweater. “We need to have a conversation about pay inequality,” said Barber. “If everyone in our world is paid fairly for their labor, then people may not shy away from the price of a dress where everyone in the supply chain was paid fairly.”
“When in doubt,” says Lauren Bravo, author of How to Break Up With Fast Fashion, “try to stick to the # 30Wears rule. As good as the deal seems, ask yourself: Will I get at least 30 times? If the honest answer is no, then step away. ”
“It’s important to understand that we can’t shop for sustainability,” says Bravo. “The most sustainable piece of clothing is already in your wardrobe, and the easiest and most accessible way to reduce our impact is to just don’t buy anything. Don’t be tempted by bargains for clothes you don’t wear – we’re in a pandemic, which Christmas parties do you actually go to? “
So before you go bargain hunting, start repairing and reviving your existing clothes. Buy second hand, vintage or refurbished items via eBay or Depop or your vintage store of choice. You can also make room in your closet by recycling or donating clothes, shoes, and other items that you no longer wear or use.
like you to be eager for a new look and ready to do it ethically, there is a growing movement away from fast fashion to a much more sustainable circular fashion model, with stylish brands re-using and recycling materials for each new look. Here are some cool brands and initiatives that will keep you warm this holiday season with both cozy attire and the shine of your bit as an ethical shopper.
Some brands, like Asket, close on Black Friday and refer you to their repair services or show you how to extend the life of the clothes you already own. The Dutch denim brand MUD jeans, which rents you jeans made of recycled cotton, closes its webshop and only sells second-hand vintage items. The proceeds will go to Justdiggit, an organization dedicated to the greening of deforested land and the regeneration of vegetation.
Annual event Black Fridye has a simple and genius idea: bring new life to your existing clothes by dyeing them black. Starting with jeans brand Citizen Wolf, the initiative is available to Australian consumers – but you can follow suit and dye your clothes yourself (it’s as easy as throwing your jeans in the washing machine with some black paint). Sustainability is the new black!
Forget Black Friday: brands like Article22 and Whimsy + Row are all about GivingTuesday. Taking place on December 1, it is a global movement to give back to communities and the world through simple acts of kindness and generosity.
Check out Good on You’s Black Friday blog for more sustainable brands doing interesting things.
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