Five easy ways to start your own ethical fashion revolution

Let’s be honest, we’ve all nipped into Topshop or H&M in a panic to pick something up for a party at the weekend. But do we know how those clothes are made or who made them? No, and that’s what Fashion Revolution Week is all about. Running from the 24th – 30th April, Fash Rev is a positive movement that came out of a tragic garment factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013. It’s about asking the right questions and thinking about what we’re buying before we hand over our money or click ‘add to basket’.

Ethical fashion has a bit of a bad rep because of visions of worn out harem pants and head-to-toe tie dye (although tie dye is totally in this season…) but you don’t have to ditch your style to join in with the fashion revolution. Honest. Scroll on for five super easy ways to get started.

1. Stop shopping (for a bit)

Every time we buy something, our brains release a happy chemical called dopamine. Yep, there’s a scientific reason we love to shop. Finally. So taking a break from shopping might sound a lot like doing nothing at all, but it’s really a pretty huge step in breaking a cycle and starting to make ethical choices.

It doesn’t matter if it’s two weeks or two months, taking some time out to hit ‘reset’ on your shopping habits will make a big difference. The reason is that the fashion industry is a major polluter. Making clothes impacts the environment because the process involves oil, lots of water, chemical dyes and pesticides, so learning to love what you already have instead of buying something new is a big deal. Check out The True Cost to find out more about the impact of fast fashion.

Tip: If your willpower is non-existent, try making a pact with your BFF and supporting each other along the way.

Blogger Susie Bubble participating in Fashion Revolution 2016. Photo by Rachel Manns. Wearing jacket by Katie Jones.

2. Set up a swap shop

Ever get wardrobe envy? Don’t just lust after your mates’ clothes from a distance, get your hands on them for free (with permission…)! Round up your most stylish friends, get each person to bag up the clothes they don’t wear anymore – or have never worn, we’re all guilty of that! – and then spend the day ‘shopping’ all those clothes you’ve been eyeing up for months.

You get to make some wardrobe space without adding to landfill, plus you get some fresh new garms without spending a penny. At the end of the day, if there’s anything left over, donate it to your local charity shop. A win for your wardrobe. A win for ethical fashion.

3. Upcycle your old clothes

200 million tonnes of textiles end up in landfill every year. That’s a crazy amount considering that almost 100% of it is recyclable. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to avoid adding to it and all it takes is a bit of creativity.

If something feels a bit last season, don’t chuck it – upcycle it instead. You don’t have to be a sewing pro; there are loads of easy tutorials out there. Check out Love Your Clothes and Brit + Co for everything from no-sew DIYs to simple step-by-step sewing tutorials. If you feel like levelling up, head over to Our Life is Beautiful and Cotton and Curls for some seriously amazing clothes transformations. I’m totally in love with this Ruffle Skirt.
And, as always, Instagram is there for all your inspo needs; search the #refashion hashtag to find loads of ideas for upcycling projects.

4. Investigate the high street

Don’t worry; I’m not talking about going undercover or anything. Fash Rev started with the purpose of asking one simple question: who made my clothes?

Asking that question encourages brands to share where their clothes are made, who they’re made by and the conditions they’re made in. It’s an important question and they want everyone to ask it. To make it easy, they even have a draft tweet on their homepage that you can send to your fave high street haunts to get some answers.

Photo: Joan Subirats

5. Buy vintage and secondhand

There are so many upsides to buying vintage and secondhand clothes hands; I’d probably have to write a whole new list to cover them all, so here are just a few: Firstly, vintage clothes are super cool and totally individual. You can create your own fresh look without worrying about bumping into five other people wearing the same thing. Secondly, you’ll save loads of money. I once bought a vintage Versace dress for £12 and there is no way real life me (as opposed to dream, millionaire me) could ever have afforded it brand new. 30 quid can get you a full secondhand outfit, and that is no joke when there’s pizza to be bought.

And last but not least, it’s one of the most ethical ways to shop. It cuts out all of that waste and pollution, stops clothes going to landfill and gives new life to old clothes. There’s basically no downside. If you need some inspiration, check out Helibells for bright and beautiful looks, Waiste for modern boho and Charity Fashion Live to see how you can make catwalk-fresh outfits from secondhand clothes.

The fashion revolution is coming, guys. Jump on board.

@SophieBenson

Find out more about Fashion Revolution Week here.

Images: fashionrevolution.org

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