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If you have any interest in the world of style and clothing, you’ve probably heard the term “fast fashion” thrown around dozens of times. 

The phrase refers to an industry of fashion that has sprung up in the past decade or so. Stores like Forever 21 have provided easy access to cheap, trendy clothing that is often meant to last for a short amount of time so that shoppers can constantly be on the hunt for the next big thing. Thus, the concept of fast fashion was born.

As great as the idea of affordable clothing sounds, there’s a problem with this idea: it takes a huge toll on the environment. Because more and more clothing is meant to be temporarily owned and used, and because it’s so cheap to buy something new, the average American tosses out roughly 81 pounds of clothing each year. That means billions of pounds of clothing are being dumped into landfills every year. This is enormously detrimental to the planet we call home. 


Fortunately, there are things you can do to combat the negative effects of fast fashion while still staying trendy and stylish. Here are four of the easiest techniques you can employ.  

1. Go for Quality, Not Quantity

When you purchase a t-shirt for $5 at a fast-fashion store, chances are, it’s not made of high-end materials. That means it will probably start to show signs of wear and tear pretty quickly, and you’ll end up replacing it within a few months or a year at most. That means you’re more likely to contribute to the buildup of clothing in landfills. Plus, aren’t you tired of owning clothes that fall apart after a few washes?
Instead of hunting down the lowest prices for your clothes, focus on what materials stores sell. If you can find that same t-shirt for $25 but it’s made of long-lasting, comfortable fabric, it might be worth the splurge.

2. Focus on Buying Versatile Clothing

Fast-fashion stores are all about the present. They want you to purchase a piece of clothing that will work for a very specific event or season, and although that’s a fun way to shop, it’s not economically beneficial or environmentally friendly.
Instead of purchasing clothing that suits a certain kind of day, try to shop for items that can be used multiple times during the year. For instance, you can find rompers that work with bare legs in summer or tights during the winter. Go for tops that can look casual with jean shorts or dressed up with a skirt. The more versatile your wardrobe becomes, the less money you’ll need to spend on cheap items that have short lifespans.

3. Don’t Underestimate the Value of Secondhand Clothing

Thrifting your outfits is a fantastic way to pad your bank account and help save the environment. By purchasing outfits previously owned by other people, you’ll give quality clothing a second chance. An added bonus? Shopping at garage sales, donation centers, or secondhand shops is an excellent way to develop a unique sense of style. Forget buying the same top that’s in the front window of a popular store (you know hundreds of other girls already have it). Try something new by sprucing up an old piece you discovered for a couple bucks at Goodwill.

4. Set Limits on How Many Items You Can Buy

Because fast fashion items are priced so low, it’s easy to convince yourself that buying seven tops every time you go shopping is a smart investment. Unfortunately, that’s not a great mindset to have if you care about the planet. Next time you head to the mall, set a limit for yourself. Maybe you allow yourself to buy one piece each time you go shopping, or you promise yourself you won’t purchase more than five new wardrobe items each month. By creating a boundary for yourself, you’ll be more conscientious about what you buy and how you build your wardrobe.

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