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How Traveling Turned Me into a Sustainable Fashion Minimalist

sustainable fashion

Just like most women, I also went through a phase in my life when I bought so much clothes, bags, and shoes that I don’t really need. And even then, I still had trouble trying to figure out what to wear to work every day even though I had a closet full of clothes. Girl problems, I know.

During that time, I was buying what was trendy and affordable. I didn’t care about the quality because I know that after 2 weeks or so, I’d go shopping again and besides, quality cost more.

I thought it was a normal behavior for all women until the moment when I was packing for my first long-term trip to South America. I had a tough time deciding what to bring that I ended up bringing way too much clothes. A newbie mistake because my backpack was too heavy to carry so I didn’t have other choice but to give away half of what I brought with me.

When that happened, I realized I was clinging too much on material things and when I gave away my clothes, it felt liberating and I felt lighter, literally and figuratively. For more than a year, I got by with the clothes and shoes that I had on my backpack and those were more than enough. And that’s how I turned into a minimalist.

When I came back home, I went shopping only to replace the clothes that were already faded and had holes in them. I was careful in stocking my closet again and made sure to keep only what I need. Last year, I went shopping only once. And when I go shopping now, I consider the following:

  • Quality: will it last long after x number of washing?
  • Versatility: will I be able to mix and match with my other clothes?
  • Material used: is it made out of lightweight material?
  • Price: is the price reasonable?

I’m not brand conscious and I care more about the quality and versatility than the price. I also consider if what I am buying is something that I can bring with me when I travel. So it is important that it’s lightweight.

However, there’s another factor that I have never considered until now — sustainable fashion. You see, it’s not enough to check the quality and versatility of the clothes but also its impact to the environment and to the people who make the clothes. And for someone who have traveled and experienced the life and culture of small, local communities, supporting sustainable fashion is really something I should take part of.

To be honest, I was clueless about what sustainable fashion is until recently when I was doing my research for One for Humanity. Reading about it triggered deep interest mainly because of its environmental impact especially after knowing that the fashion industry is the 2nd largest polluter in the world, next to oil.

Based from everything I’ve read, there is more to sustainable fashion and Green Strategy was able to clearly define what it is:

More sustainable fashion can be defined as clothing, shoes and accessories that are manufactured, marketed and used in the most sustainable manner possible, taking into account both environmental and socio-economic aspects. In practice, this implies continuous work to improve all stages of the product’s life cycle, from design, raw material production, manufacturing, transport, storage, marketing and final sale, to use, reuse, repair, remake and recycling of the product and its components.

From an environmental perspective, the aim should be to minimize any undesirable environmental effect of the product’s life cycle by: (a) ensuring efficient and careful use of natural resources (water, energy, land, soil, animals, plants, biodiversity, ecosystems, etc); (b) selecting renewable energy sources (wind, solar, etc) at every stage, and (c) maximizing repair, remake, reuse, and recycling of the product and its components.

From a socio-economic perspective, all stakeholders should work to improve present working conditions for workers on the field, in the factories, transportation chain, and stores, by aligning with good ethics, best practice and international codes of conduct. In addition, fashion companies should contribute to encourage more sustainable consumption patterns, caring and washing practices, and overall attitudes to fashion. (Green Strategy, June 2014)

If you are curious to know more about sustainable fashion production and consumption, here’s Green Strategy’s Seven Forms of Sustainable Fashion.

It’s clear that today’s industry is run by “fast fashion”, which heavily impacts the environment. And sadly, shoppers do not care as long as they get to have new clothes that are both affordable and trendy.

We can only hope that these “fast fashion” companies take the first step to a more sustainable fashion but in reality, why would they even bother if people are still buying? Perhaps if we, the consumers, all take part in slowly transitioning to a more sustainable fashion, then maybe, just maybe, we can revolutionize the fashion industry.

It has to start somewhere, don’t you agree?

Sending you love from my side of the world. Thank you for stopping by. Cheers!