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Written by Pauline Davis
Affordable fashion and cheaper clothing is something of a marvel in the modern age, and there are so many ways to make clothes even cheaper that it’s no wonder we are often spoiled for choice. However, in its present form (globally speaking) the fashion industry isn’t sustainable, and unless we start thinking about it now, we won’t be able to keep living this way.
The numbers speak for themselves. Cotton, the backbone of the fabric world, is a very intensive crop. It takes 132 million tonnes of coal per year to produce the 60 billion kilograms of textiles needed for global demand.
If this was all necessary consumption, it could be worth it, but every year over 15 million tonnes of fabric and textiles of both natural and artificial kinds is discarded as waste. That number is for just the United States alone. To see the full extent of what’s being talked about, read Carolina Obregon’s fascinating report on sustainability and fashion.
These numbers might be scary, and you might think that as an individual you have very little power in this game, but that isn’t true – especially as a traveler. Globetrotting might not seem like a sustainable practice, but with some care, caution, and passion you can really make a difference. Keep these three tips in mind.
3 Tips for Embracing Sustainable Shopping Abroad
Tip One – Do your Homework
Before you leave on your globetrotting cavalcade of fashionable fun, find out a little more about the country you are going to be visiting. Specifically, what they wear and how they make it. This will mean you can tell what’s genuinely local from the fake, fad, or fast fashion.
Buying from locals instead of big companies mean you’ll be supporting the kind of people who know how to make clothes sustainably because they have no choice. Companies can just up-sticks, and go elsewhere. Locals can’t. Choose with care though, as companies want to make you think you’re getting something exotic when it’s just the same as what you could have bought in the high street. Train your eye. (I’ll even check on Amazon to see if a product is truly “locally made.”)
Tip Two – Don’t Buy to say Bye Bye
Fast fashion is a big problem for sustainability, so, when you buy a new item while traveling, make sure you’re playing the long game. Don’t pick something that you are reasonably confident could be ripped or torn or otherwise ruined beyond usability in a few short months. Durability, quality, and longevity are key watchwords for the traveling sustainable fashionista. This might seem like it’s spoiling your fun, but it’s actually really great for your wardrobe. Unfortunately, locally sourced products are usually more expensive. Knowing you are buying less means you can concentrate your purchasing power and buy only the best things.
Tip Three – Asking is Learning
Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the people you source your local fashion from. They will not only be delighted that you want to better understand how their craft comes together, they will also appreciate that you value their items enough to want to know how to properly repair them. Travel is about broadening the mind, and learning new techniques on how to make do and mend is a great way to make your mind-broadening experience sustainable as well.
From Australia to Amsterdam, sustainable fashion is alive and well around the world. Make your journey this year something that is great for you, while not costing the earth.
About the Author:
Traveling since she was 5, Pauline is now a working student with a long list of travel destinations. For her, everything is a balancing act – working, studying, traveling and taking care of her 2 Labradors. Also a budding writer, Pauline expresses her love for both traveling and writing by contributing to a slew of online publications in her spare time.