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Is sustainable (and ethical) fashion expensive? Yes, it is if we are only talking about the “price per item” compared to fast fashion. Things like quality and eco-friendly materials, certifications, fair wages and recycling programs all drive up the cost, and for good reasons.

Does this mean you have to spend a fortune to support sustainable fashion? Actually, not at all. In fact, there are a ton of ways to support sustainable fashion no matter what budget you have.

Love what you already have.

The most sustainable option is to wear what you already own. (Yes, even if it’s a fast fashion item.) Before you open another shopping tab, first shop from your own closet. Take good care of your clothes, and find new ways to style them. 

Take good care of your clothes, and find new ways to style them.

When you no longer wear a piece of clothing, don’t immediately donate it. (Most donated clothes end up in landfills.) First, consider if you can DIY it into something that fits more of your current style, which, let’s face it, is a lot of fun. 

Shop second-hand.

Pre-loved pieces are not only budget-friendly, but they are also environmentally-friendly. By supporting second-hand, you give a piece of clothing a new life, and save it from going into a landfill. You can do this by either swapping with friends or visiting some of the online marketplaces. ThredUp, Poshmark and The RealReal are just a few among the many places where you can find great, second-hand deals.

Think dollar per wear, not dollar per item.

The concept of sustainability means inherently thinking long-term. This requires a mindset shift for most of us. Rather than dollar per item, think dollar per wear, which actually saves more money in the long run.

This means when you do buy something new, fight the urge to get the trendy or cheap (and typically poor quality) items. This will serve you and the planet better because of how fast these items fall out of trend or break. To get your trendy fix, renting is a more sustainable option and also easier on your wallet.

Fight the urge to get the trendy or cheap (and typically poor quality) items.

Rethink your laundry.

How you wash and dry your clothes is also a big part of their environmental footprint, but it is often overlooked. Washing and drying can be water, energy and chemical intensive, especially with traditional dry cleaning. Each time you wash synthetic materials, you also introduce microplastics into the water. 

The good news is, by changing your laundry habits, you can lower the environmental impact of your clothes. Wash less often, wash with cold water, hang to dry and cut dry cleaning. As an added bonus, you may also save on your energy and water bills.  

Be a sustainable brand advocate.

Building sustainable fashion brands in an old and polluting industry isn’t easy. I know that first-hand. We need support from everyone to make the practice mainstream.

Buying from these brands is great, but it’s not the only way to show support. Recognizing their initiatives and spreading the word is also powerful. Buying less new items, especially from fast fashion, is always helpful. Educating ourselves and others about sustainable fashion are also great ways to show support.

All in all, there’s no single way to support sustainable fashion. It doesn’t have to be intimidating despite common perceptions. If we all contribute in our own ways, then a more sustainable future is near.

How can you support sustainable fashion? What, if anything, keeps you from purchasing sustainable items?

Image via Remember When, By Ceci Frost

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