MONDAY READS: How to be a Conscious Consumer

Written by: Amelia Hoge

At this point, it’s no secret that current clothing production methods have negatively impacted the environment. Sustainability has become a much more prevalent issue for both retailers and consumers, and many retailers today have undergone radical business transformations in an effort to be at the forefront of this issue.

In a recent article in Business of Fashion, Stella McCartney gives her input on fashion’s archaic production methods while highlighting The MacArthur report, which introduces some of the environmental impacts of production and outlines a vision for a more sustainable future.

“The booming fashion industry is medieval in its approach to manufacturing and needs to modernize in order to radically cut the damage it is doing to the environment” – Stella McCartney

In a previous Monday Reads, I highlighted seven sustainability measures, based on a report from Global Fashion Agenda, that retailers and manufacturers can take to change the trajectory of production’s severe impact on the environment. Today I want to focus on two measures that we as consumers can take to support this new direction.

  1. Awareness
    It seems simple enough, but awareness is sometimes an understated and extremely powerful catalyst for change. Why? Because knowledge is power.Did you know that the clothing industry is actually the second largest polluter in the world? Every step in a garment’s cycle, from production, to distribution, to use, to discarding, has a negative impact on the environment. On top of this, clothing utilization has decreased while sales have increased. In other words, we are buying more clothing because we have cheaper options (hello, fast fashion) and we are throwing our clothing away much quicker because, well, it’s cheaper.

    Educating ourselves on how the environment is affected, as well as how the countries we rely on for imports are affected, can help put things into perspective and change the way we choose to shop, which brings me to my second point.

  2. Practice being a conscious consumer
    For most of my life, I only purchased clothing based on two things: how it looked and how much it cost. In high school, my entire wardrobe was basically all fast fashion, and I don’t recall ever looking at things like fiber content or country of origin. Now when I make purchasing decisions, I try my best to look at the whole picture. I’ve also cut back on shopping at fast fashion retailers and instead focus on buying better quality clothing from resale/thrift stores.When it comes to changing your shopping patterns, obviously you don’t have to strive for perfection right away, or swear off fast fashion (especially on a student budget) forever, but even the slightest step in the right direction, whether that means buying one less piece of merchandise or checking out a local thrift shop before heading to Zara, has the potential to make a radical difference.

These are just two examples of the many different ways we can support sustainability in the fashion industry. We would love to hear from you–let us know in the comments of some other things you can do to make a positive impact! Sustainability isn’t a trend anymore, it’s becoming a business imperative. Let’s start the conversation.

Thanks for reading this week’s Monday Reads. See you next week!

National Retail Federation Student Association @ FIT


Business of Fashion (April 20 2018): Stella McCartney Calls on Fashion to Adopt Cleaner Production

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