Fashion + The Circular Economy

‘Keeping it Circular’: Staying Ethical on a Budget

We are in the midst of the golden age of content, with each second brings a flurry of new products and stylish images to our fingertips. The constant advertisement clouds our own judgement and leads us to believe that we need whatever it is that is filling our explore pages at that particular hour.


What’s the problem?

One of the biggest advertising industries that ensnares us daily is the fashion industry, and with new aesthetics emerging daily and the ever-growing list of online clothing shops, it is hard to resist. However, whilst this new way of experiencing fashion is exciting, it is creating a serious impact on not only ourselves but the planet. Globally, there is an estimated 92 million tonnes of textile waste created each year and the number is only rising. The fast fashion industry is dulling our attitudes toward waste, normalising the throw-away culture that is destroying our planet. Our clothing is integral to us and our self-expression, and by ditching fast fashion we are not giving up our self-expression but rather heightening it.


Why should we reject fast fashion?

By rejecting fast fashion companies, we are expressing our moral objection to clothing that actively damages our home planet and embracing brands and new ways of shopping that are leading the circular economy; an economic system whose aim is to eliminate waste and the continual use of resources.


Circular brands

There are new fashion brands on the rise that incorporate values of the circular economy, creating fashionable yet sustainable clothing. Brands such as MUD Jeans, a denim brand founded in the Netherlands that creates high quality, eco-friendly jeans. MUD also offers free repairs within the first year and the option to return the jeans and receive a discount on the next pair.

Another brand that prioritises sustainability is Stella McCartney, a brand certified by Cradle to Cradle (a system that scores brands based on their dedication to the circular economy). Stella McCartney uses recycled materials and supports restorative farming processes in order to preserve natural resources all whilst creating unique, stylish clothing and accessories.


Why eco-friendly brands aren’t for everyone

Whilst I would love to personally support these brands and others that are leading the circular economy and re-imagining the relationship between fashion and the planet, the clothes are outside of my budget. It is totally understandable that someone would rather pay £20 than £100 for a pair of jeans, and it is for this reason that fast fashion is preferable to the majority of people, it encourages customers to buy without thinking too much about the purchase. It’s important to avoid making environmentalism a class issue, which is what we do by promoting expensive brands with no alternative. There are, however, ways to stay ethical without splurging.


How can we stay ethical when on a budget?

A great way to shop consciously whilst retaining your personal style is by frequenting second-hand clothing stores and websites. ‘Second-hand’ can mean anything from car boot sales to charity shops to vintage boutiques.

In the UK, charity shops such as Age UK and Cancer Research can be found in most cities and stock unwanted clothing and other items. The best thing about shopping in stores like this is that you are likely to find unique pieces, you don’t have to worry about that fateful moment of turning up to an event and matching with someone else wearing the same Boohoo or PrettyLittleThing dress. As well as this, they are just as, if not more, affordable as fast fashion and don’t come with the added carbon emissions.

If you’re looking for the convenience of online shopping, it is also possible to shop second-hand online. The most popular websites in this vein are eBay and Depop. Refining your search terms when looking for particular styles or items is important when shopping on these websites, as there is a huge amount of choice; you can also filter your search by price which is essential when you’re on a budget.

All of these ways of second-hand shopping ‘keep it circular’, reducing waste and carbon emissions. And whilst the emergence of eco-friendly clothing brands is encouraging, they are not the only option. It is important to note that anyone can thrive to be sustainable in their choices, regardless of income and circumstance. Whoever you are, by refusing to partake in the throw-away culture that fast fashion companies have created, we are doing our part in saving the planet and looking great whilst doing it.

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