In the pic: Atacama desert in Chile, covered in discarded clothes
The only way we can prevent what's on the pic from continuing to happen at such a big scale is by making fashion companies produce their products in much fewer quantities.
Shopping Pre-Loved is the best way to achieve that and also prevent garments, that are still in great condition, from ending up in the landfill. Why throw away something that can still be used?
But if you're still going to shop brand new fashion items, these are a few things you should keep in mind to reduce your environmental impact with your shopping choices:
Avoid shopping anything that contains polyester
Every time you wash your polyester clothes they shed microplastics that go directly into the ocean: causing pollution, killing fish and causing a lot of long-term damage we currently haven't got any solution for.
Shop pieces with a fabric that has a composition of 100% the same material
With our current technology, only fabrics that are 100% the same material can be recycled, so try to consider that before splurging on something new.
Shop biodegradable materials
To name a few: cotton, linen, wool (mohair, cashmere, angora, alpaca,…), silk, modal, lyocell, viscose,… This way you make sure that, when the day your new piece can no longer be used comes, it won’t be harmful for our planet.
Avoid vegan leather, even if you're vegan
Anything that says “leather look”, "fake leather", "faux fur"... There’s plenty of other cruelty-free alternative materials you can find that don’t contain any plastic, and that therefore, won’t shed microplastics into the ocean.
Avoid materials that come from animals
Animal farming is one of the most polluting industries when it comes to carbon emissions. Materials that come from animals include silk, any kind of wool and leather. Cutting your meat intake also helps!
The goal is that you’re aware of how your actions impact the environment so you can make better informed decisions!
Following all these tips to a T is, of course, very difficult. So if you feel like you can't sacrifice everything, make sure you choose the cause (or causes) that are more significant to you.
For example, my personal view on this is to stay away from polyester (as we don't have a solution for microplastics yet) and I’d rather buy materials that come from animals (as they’re naturally biodegradable) and reduce my meat intake. There are animals that are already being slaughtered for their meat, it would be a waste not take advantage of their skin.
Finally, remember to respect other people's opinions! The cause you care the most about might not be the cause others are more identified with. And yes, not everyone is educated on this topic so it's always a good idea to educate from a respectful point of view.