Sustainability has always been a passion of mine. By “sustainability” I mean using resources that are already available in order to reduce the pollution created when new materials are produced, basically just eco-friendly. The first, and maybe hardest, thing to becoming sustainable is to reduce consumption. This means a lot less shopping and buying things that you don’t need. Fortunately, there is hope for those of us who still crave something “new” every once in awhile.
It was reported by L.A. Times that the average American throws away 54 pounds of clothing and shoes each year. That is an astonishing total of 9 million pounds annually! While many of us hate to hear it, the best way to stop this incredible amount of waste is to significantly reduce the amount of unnecessary things we buy. Cutting down to 1 impulse buy per week instead 3 can make a significant change! If you are like me this probably comes as a challenge, so you may need to ease your way into it. The best way to start this is by avoiding fast fashion stores like Forever 21 and A'gaci, and start buying products that have been recycled or sourced from natural fibers like organic cotton, linen, or hemp. There are many brands that offer items that are made with renewable energy and environmentally safe dyes. Of course many of the sustainably made and biodegradable products can be expensive. An even better option is to buy less frequently in order to save up for a higher quality garment that you can appreciate more.
Another fun option that I recommend for everyone is to go to consignment, vintage, or thrift stores. One of my favorite things to do with my old clothing is to exchange it for something “new” at Buffalo Exchange. Buffalo offers 30% in cash for items that you bring in or 50% store credit. There has never been a time when I have gone in and didn’t find something that I absolutely loved, and it’s all a great price! They only take the newest trends or vintage items that are still in great condition so you don’t have to dig through piles of gross hand me downs from someone’s great uncle. There are a few other stores around Austin that offer a similar service including Plato’s Closet, Second Time Around, and Restyle. You can also find many great vintage shops in Austin that aren’t very expensive at all. Some of my favorites are Big Bertha's Paradise, Blue Velvet, and Ermine Vintage. There are also many great thrift stores in the Austin area.
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There are many vintage stores in Austin, but there is one that truly stands out among the rest. Big Bertha's Paradise, located on North Loop. There seems to be an endless amount of fabulous vintage fashion despite the stores size. I could spend hours in there! From Chanel to Gianni Versace the clothing and accessories are breath taking. This store has so much to offer for Austin locals or for a traveling fashionista just passing through. And don't be intimidated by the designer labels, there are many other pieces that are in a lower price range as well. If you don't fall in love with the fashions you will surely fall in love with the owner, Henry. This store is all around amazing!
There are items also available online.
Other places to check out while on North Loop:
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What is Fast Fashion?
Fast fashion is the process of creating high quantities of clothes quickly after runway trends are released and selling them for low prices. Many of these items are made in underdeveloped countries. Stores similar to Forever 21, H&M, and A’Gaci are examples of Fast Fashion.
6 Reason Why It Should Be Avoided
· 9 million tons of clothing items are thrown away annually
· More demand means more pollution from factories in countries with little to no emission standards
· About 1,200 factory workers in Bangladesh were killed last year due to poor factory maintenance
· Factory workers are affected from harsh chemicals used in dyes
· Shortening deadlines for factory workers, increasing their hours to 13-14 hours per day without a break
· Synthetic products do not decompose in landfills
The best way to put an end to these horrible conditions is to reduce our consumption, especially of fast fashion clothing. If for some reason you still find yourself browser through one of these stores, check the tag. It is always safest to with items made in the U.S. or a European country. H&M, Gap, Zara, and a few other companies have made some initiative towards becoming more sustainable and ethical companies. Check the tags to be sure you are purchasing one of the sustainable and ethical options.