Most of us strive to put our best foot forward every day, presenting ourselves as positively polished and poised to take on any challenge with a smile. Whether we’re headed to school, on the way to work, or just running errands around town, there’s something to be said about the “look good, feel good” mentality.
Maybe you get ready every morning with motivational mantras and incorporate gemstones into outfits, thereby activating their healing properties, raising your vibration levels, and boosting your energy for a demanding day ahead.
Colors are another powerful way to align your chakras and optimize your state of being. Want to show the world that you’re strong and confident? Open your solar plexus and radiate your expansive brightness by wearing yellow in your outfit of the day—you’ll definitely feel an intensified fire in your belly as you manifest great vibes.
Here’s the catch: we want to look stylish and match our ensembles with our mindset, but therein lies the problem. Our closets may be stocked with all the essential items needed to express our originality—unique pashminas, ethereal skirts, vibrant tie-dye—but unfortunately, many of us are unaware of unethical underpinnings that are rampant in the fashion industry.
Some of your favorite garments may be produced out of high-volume, fast fashion factories that create terrible environments for workers, and terrible consequences for the environment. Sure, it can be fun to get carried away with a low-cost shopping spree, adding items to your that that you don’t really need, but must have because they speak to you in one way or another.
But how can you shine authentically, set with intention, if deep down, you know that what you’re wearing comes at an unhumanitarian cost? Here’s a deeper look at the darker side of fashion, including three tips for how you can be sustainably stylish while expressing your sense of self!
1)Say “No” to Sweatshops
Sweatshop labor drives the low prices in the fast fashion industry. U.S. companies outsource their textile manufacturing to countries overseas where labor laws are not enforced. As such, factory workers are paid starvation wages in exchange for higher profit margins; they’re denied bathroom breaks, forced to work unpaid overtime in poor, dimly lit conditions, and face retaliation if they seek better treatment elsewhere.
Join the growing number of consumers who say “no” to cheap clothes in favor of workers’ rights and avoid purchasing from companies who use sweatshops. You can do this by shopping Fair Trade, which system helps ensure economically disadvantaged artisans across the world receive fair wages for the high-quality items they sell retailers and wholesalers. If you spot this label on a hand-knit sweater made in Peru, for example, it means that the craftsman was adequately paid without interference of greedy middlemen.
2) Materials Matter Very Much
A cotton scarf, hemp tote, and denim jacket—what do these different accessories have in common? The way each one is made has a huge impact on the world environment.
Cotton, one of the most common materials in fabric, is a very thirsty crop; it can take more than 5,000 gallons of water to produce a little over two pounds material! Harvesting cotton requires destruction of the entire crop, exposing bare soil to bake in the sun and release C02 into the atmosphere.
Instead of adding more cotton to your closet, consider women’s bamboo tops that are made from textile far more water-efficient (comparatively, bamboo takes only 130 gallons to produce three pounds and requires little to no irrigation at all!). When it’s chopped down, it keeps on growing and gives off much-needed oxygen to combat the earth’s greenhouse gas problem.
As a general rule of thumb, stay away from plastics (such as polyester and spandex) as much as possible and seek out stylish pieces made from sustainable textiles. It’s always better to invest in high-quality products upfront, including premium denim, to extend the lifespan of every purchase. This leads us to our next tip…
3) Cut Back as Much as Possible
The best way to protest the expensive consequences behind cheap clothes is to cut back consumption altogether. Reuse old pieces in new ways, recycle outgrown items for different purposes, and resell once-loved garments to second-hand shoppers who can give your wardrobe a new home. Better yet, donate them to charity and fill those in need with immense gratitude for your offering.
With these tips in mind, you can dress like your best self while promoting what’s best for the world.