Ethical fashion: How to become a responsible consumer

It’s clear that big brands have a lot to be accountable for when it comes to global emissions and the exploitation of garment workers. But the industry is directly influenced by high demand from the people purchasing the clothes…so where does this leave the consumer?

Educating yourself on how to be responsible with your purchasing habits is one of the most affirmative ways of instigating change. Here are some top tips for how you can influence change:

1. Join the ethical fashion movement

Support the charities and movements that are providing information on how to better your purchasing habits. Organisations like the Clean Clothes Project, Labour Behind the Label, Fashion Revolution and Remember Who Made Them are all wonderful organisations doing great work exclusively on ethical fashion.

2. Where possible, buy with integrity

Buy responsibly and with integrity, investing in pieces that will last and, wherever possible, where you can confirm their provenance. Know that this can be a double-edged sword, and that just because a piece is considered ‘luxury’ or ‘Made in the UK’, it does not mean it is doing any better in terms of mitigating exploitation that a more affordable equivalent. The best way of ensuring you’re not contributing towards any sort of malpractice is to buy second-hand – which helps the environment out too.

3. Use your voice for change

Recognise the power of using your voice. If you are unhappy with the brands you know and love, let them know! If you believe the government could be working harder to improve legislation for workers in the UK and beyond, appeal to your MP. Join a protest, sign a petition. Use your platform to propagate about the things you believe in. Raise your concerns with friends and family – you never know who you’ll inspire to rethink next time they’re at the till.

While consuming new fashion of any kind will generally always be unsustainable for the planet, lobbying for change is showing brands that there’s earnest demand for clothes with transparent ethics. We are not calling for the garment industry to grind to halt, but rather to commit to hiring people on a long-term basis who are treated fairly and paid in accordance with national laws.

Will you be incorporating any of these changes? Let us know!

* This piece is a modified excerpt from the piece ‘Gender Equality and Exploitation in the Garment Making Industry’, written by Izzy Taylor of STOP THE TRAFFIK in collaboration with Fashion Revolution. It is available in full here.

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