Changing consumer habits: an ethical fashion adapted to oneself
Have you ever wondered how our clothes are made? Where do they come from? What are the issues and consequences behind the textile industry?
Since I started to take a deeper look at this window of my consumption, I’m dizzy.
Human abuses, social inequalities, afflicting ecology impact, consumer brainwashing, psychological impacts and social pressure ….overconsumption of these products is a scourge for our planet and our freedom.
To not bother you with a huge article listing the reasons, I invite you to start by watching the documentary The True Cost on Netflix which will surely be a nice first step into your reflection. In this article I rather tell you how I changed my attitude towards clothes and how to do it easily.
When I was younger, I worked in retail and spent a good amount of my salary buying clothes that I sold every day. When I think about it, I find it ironic. Today, despite the sort my clothes ok still overflowing with clothes “for the garden” “for DIY” “to hang out on sundays when it rains”, and so on..
Fortunately, since I started a nomadic life 3 years ago, I learned to free myself from this addiction to clothes. It started with understanding
That weighs its weight
When you have to wear your clothes, you have to think about what you are going to put in your backpack, and concentrate on the handy, the clever (versatile) and comfortable use. The comfy clothing that will be adaptable to everything. We can’t afford to bring 1 clothing per occasion, we must learn to combine styles and anticipate off-road situations.
I’m learning to be less influenced by all these ads, Instagram accounts, or brands that immerses us in new looks or new clothes everyday. With the time ,I understand better my own style (even if it’s changeable, we can note the recurrences) and especially I know what suits me, what does not suit me (yes, I had to say goodbye to mustard yellow to my consternation) and in which I feel good. I also noticed that men are not so attached to the appearance of clothing and that makes you feel less guilty! In the world of backpackers, everyone gets dressed the most comfortable way possible, often at the expense of the latest trendy look and everyone cares!
Our desires change
Then, I realized that an item is only a reflection of a state of mind and a passing mood. When you are traveling, we evolve very fast. Far from our family cocoon, in uncomfortable situations, in contact with various cultures, we learn a lot about each other and about ourselves. Our desires change, our style too. We are inspired by the dominant colors of these cultures, by the climate, the local way of life, the state of mind, and so on… You don’t wear the same clothes in town than in the countryside I imagine? Traveling is the same!
Just as we evolve, our clothes – which are often the outward translation of our personality – seem to be quickly inadequate. Laura and I have had regular experiences in the last 3 years and we regularly feel the necessity of changing our wardrobe.
From that moment, I understood that it was useless to buy every new fad, and to fill up the cupboards because of a tendency that will be gone in 2 months. I wanted to go back to basics.
How did I change my habits?
1) To sort
When I returned home, I wanted to sort the boxes of clothes that were accumulating and taking space at my parents. I started my “fashion revolution” by documenting to minimalist bloggers who teach you to sort your dressing objectively.
So I spent last summer at my parents’ house with only 30 items in my closet (I have a lot less when I travel, but the conditions are different) and I loved the idea. Beyond saving time and energy to get dressed in the morning, I felt better in my shoes and more in alignment with myself. When we think less about trivialities, we focus on the essential and it feels good to empty your mind.
Nevertheless, I noticed that many “capsule wardrobes” are created around neutral shades like black, grey or blue jeans while I prefer colorful things! So I preferred to bet on tones that reflect my personality and bring more pep to my outfit. Minimalist yes, but fun!
To start with good advices:
I don’t recommend any video, it will depend on your personal journey and your needs. I skimmed a few to have a wider panel of advice and once I considered having all the information that inspired me I started! Also, don’t take it too seriously, you will not have a test at the end of your sorting; if you have a little more than 30 items it doesn’t matter, put the little extras aside in a bag or a box and test your behavior: if you had bet on a tee-shirt as an essential you may not wear itand may want to put the one hiding in the box, waiting for another chance. In this case, adjust!
Since I made this sorting, I have missed a single piece of clothing on the hundred donated or sold. And again, I know that I sold it because I was not comfortable in it. #noregret
2) Free yourself
As I said before, I realized that our style of clothing changes according to our moods but also the external environment. In travel too, by dint of doing and redoing our bag we forget or lose things, we wear out clothes faster. So I learned not to overemphasize it and to practice letting go. However, I take care of my clothes and I learn to wash them properly (with care), or repair them.
3) Stop buying compulsively
To buy without thinking is precisely the beginning of the heap. Do you like a certain clothing? Wait 5 days before buying it. When I think a little bit more, I often find alternatives in my closet: I shorten a long skirt to have a mini, I make a tunic from a too short dress, I dye my stained tee shirt … or simply I change my mind on that crush that was not really one.
An ecological and revolutionary action
I boycott as much as possible all the brands of fashion giants like H & M, Zara, and more. I use those brands only when I have the absolute necessity of something and I can’t find elsewhere (underwear for example).
To understand the reasons for my boycott, I invite you to watch the documentary mentioned above “The True Cost”.
4)Use cunning your brain
To sell, to get rid yes. But beware, if you are subject to phases of “relapse” in your minimalist approach, you must have more than one trick in your bag! As far as I’m concerned, I keep 1 or 2 suitcases of clothes at home so I can rotate my clothes. When I put my nose in these suitcases, I feel like discovering new clothes when I bought them a long time ago. This avoids me to buy clothes for single use (parties, weddings, and so on…).
5) Yes to second life!
I do my shopping in thrift stores, the Red Cross, Emmaüs, flea market, neighborhood associations … There are now many places that offer second hand clothes. Do some research on the internet, keep your ears wide open or ask locals, you will always find the information!
You can also go on specialized websites to resell or buy used clothes like Vinted, Vide Dressing or Ebay (in France). There are even websites to rent your clothes! I never tried but it seems to work well 😊
6) Talk about it
Your family, your friends, your boyfriend … anything goes when it comes to find rare pearls. Like you, the others are full of unused clothes in their wardrobe in the hope that they will use it one day (since 5 years), or simply because they don’t know what to do with it. Ask the question, even be a little cheeky and ask your entourage to sort. So you can take a look at their collection and surely find your happiness. You will be able to think of them when you wear their clothes! My dad’s undershirt became my favorite white tee-shirt, my auntie’s wide-leg pants saved me more than once from the Balinese warmth, this year I use again the green dress that my best friend gave me 10 years ago …
You can also exchange your clothes. Laura and I, we dit it a lot during our travels. She takes one of my T-shirt against one of her shorts and vice versa. It gives us the effect of shopping without opening our wallet!
7) Do not throw away
A hole? Learn to repair your clothes rather than condemning them! If you don’t know how to sew (my case), you can learn easily on Youtube according to your need, find a seamstress, or even ask for family help (thank you mom !!) 😉
Your clothes are too worn? Reuse them! Clothes make very good rags, and can be reused in many ways. Again, you can find many ideas on Youtube or Pinterest. For example, you can make a bag out of a tee-shirt!
In France, there are specific places to recover your clothes even if the quality is not good anymore. If they are in good condition you can also resell them or give them to your friends and family. In addition to getting rid of stuffs, you are taking a good action and ecological movement.
8) Buy slow fashion brands
As far as we are concerned, we don’t have the money to orient ourselves towards ethical brands which often offer higher prices than in big stores (it is normal, they have more honorable conditions). But that doesn’t bother us more than that because we prefer to invest money in our travels, more than in our physical appearance.
However, you may not find what you need in thrift shop or you simply may not like the idea of wearing someone else’s clothes. In this case, there are brand referral sites that works for a more reasoned consumption.
In summary :
Buy less and buy better. You are a fan of shopping and you like to look after your style? Very good! Today there are alternatives other than brand new, and there is surely a solution to your needs. 😊 Also think that the time and money you spend in your shopping can be recycled much more usefully for activities that may bring you more satisfaction. Perhaps rethink the way you consume: doing things conscientiously always allows you to refocus on yourself and your essential needs. And above all, THINK GLOBAL. Yes, YOUR action has an impact on consumption, policies and the environment. Everything is governed like an ecosystem of which you are an actor.
And, last tip: do it in your own pace. It doesn’t help to feel guilty, as soon as you become aware of your consumption and its impact and want to change things you are on the right track 😊
“There are no small actions”.
Tell me in comments what are you actions to be more sustainable with your clothing !