Life in the Time of COVID
By: Maria Casey
Fast fashion may be cheap, but the human and environmental costs are monumental. In the clothing industry, you'll find every kind of abuse imaginable—forced child labor, workers making poverty wages while working 16-18 hour days, and the annual addition of half a million tons of plastic microfibers to our oceans.
Here’s the thing: these stats are just the tip of the melting iceberg.
If you're already feeling discouraged, keep in mind that you have the power to vote with your dollars. It can be easy to shut down when hearing grim facts and figures, but money keeps this industry on the fast track to disaster. Put your money somewhere else, and you become part of the solution.
Please know that we share these truths not to overwhelm, but to inspire. Together, we can change our habits and transform our planet. By committing to creating a wardrobe that reflects your values, you’re making a huge difference. Read on to find out why shopping sustainably is such a good thing.
One of the biggest reasons to shop sustainably is because the traditional fashion industry is wasteful. Global clothing production has doubled in the past 15 years. We buy 60 percent more clothes than we did in 2000 but keep our clothes half as long. This is part of the reason why every second, we burn or send one garbage truck of clothes to our landfills.
Non-biodegradable textiles stay in our landfills for up to 200 years, and global apparel production is projected to increase 63 percent by the year 2030. That’s almost two garbage trucks per second! Part of sustainable fashion ethos is to buy less and keep things longer. The theory is simple—purchase less, and the industry will produce less.
Clothing production is resource intensive. Synthetic materials require 10x to 25x more energy to produce than natural fibers, but even making a cotton tee takes as much water as you could drink in two-and-a-half years. So when you buy less and keep your clothing longer, you save our precious natural resources.
You know about the plastic problem—by 2050 plastic will probably outweigh fish in the sea. But what you might not know is that microplastics are also deadly for our oceans and not so good for us either. When washed, synthetic garments release plastic microfibers, causing half a million tons to seep into the sea. When you choose to buy clothing made of natural fibers, you’re saying no to these tiny poisonous threads and yes to healthier oceans.
Here’s the naked truth: One of the reasons fast fashion is cheap is that garment workers, who are primarily women and sometimes children, are not paid living wages. During deadlines, they often need to work an inhumane number of hours without being paid overtime if they want to keep their jobs. As if that weren’t enough, large retailers make big promises about improving labor practices, but often make the situation appear better than it is.
By choosing to support ethical fashion brands (many of which you can find here at BUHO), you’re helping the people who made your clothes have a better life. Ask the brands you love #whomademyclothes—a movement launched by Fashion Revolution after the Rana Plaza factory collapse. Keep in mind that most brands don’t have pristine supply chains. When it comes to ethical clothing, the main idea is to ask brands for transparency (apps like good on you can help) and put your dollars toward the best brands your budget will allow.
When you fill your closet full of wool, leather, and fur, chances are the animals you're wearing were treated in ways that would make your skin crawl and your heart hurt. So the first thing you can do to help is to stop buying new items containing these materials. Buying vintage or second-hand pieces extends the lifecycle of those products and cuts down on the cruel animal skin trade.
In addition, leather production has a massive environmental cost. If you do choose to wear leather, consider these humane alternatives, or better yet, choose vegan leather instead. BUHO has plenty of super cute, vegan, eco-friendly options to choose from.
Being a part of the minimalist fashion movement isn’t necessarily about creating the smallest capsule wardrobe ever, but it is about curating your closet so that it’s full of items you adore. We believe minimalism is about loving what you own, which probably means that you’ll have less and keep things longer.
Whether that means investing in fewer items at a higher price point, or simply buying things that you can use season after season is completely up to you. It’s all about intention—what are you buying and why? When you’re about to purchase something, we recommend you ask whether you’ll wear it 30 times. If you can’t see yourself wearing that piece over most of the coming year, consider buying something else instead.
Buying vintage is one of the most fun ways to explore sustainable fashion! Not only will you extend the lifecycle of the garments you purchase, but you'll end up wearing distinctive pieces. And remember—vintage leather shoes and jackets also help you say no to the cruel animal skin trade. At BUHO, we love a good find, which is why we have curated a selection for you.
It’s not just about taking care of our planet and each other. Here at BUHO, we love fashion. Yes, we exist to change the industry, but we believe clothing is a means of self-expression. A by-product of living a sustainable, fashion-forward lifestyle is that your style will become more intentional and personal. By supporting brands that stand apart, thrifting, and shopping for vintage pieces, you’ll have more opportunities to create a signature look. And you’ll know that you’re doing everything you can to heal this planet of ours.
So there you have it, eco-fashionista! What are the reasons why you choose to shop sustainably? Leave a comment below—we’d love to hear from you.