Diwali season is here and your family wants to shop for brand new clothes! But only you are concerned about it being sustainable and ethical. Maybe you don’t even feel the need to shop since you’ve quit fast fashion, but the social norms of buying something new put a lot of pressure on your green lifestyle during the festive season. Tv adverts and your mobile is ringing crazy with all the sale notifications from various brands! So what can you do to make sure you make the right choice for the planet while still enjoying your festival with family?
Sustainable fashion can be a confusing topic if you are a beginner trying to figure out how to make the best choice. Finding the most sustainable option takes for granted a level of consumer education that simply does not exist today. We could easily fall prey to greenwashing that secretly promotes more harm, in the absence of this awareness!
So where do we draw the line?
Here are 6 options you can think through before you step out to shop:
- Upcycled & Custom Made: You can always collect the waste fabric or Upcycle your grandmother’s old sarees which are too far gone for regular use. Utilizing and optimizing fabrics to create custom fashion is a great way to create a sustainable wardrobe. The garments are made to fit so you use them more often, you know you tailor, so no one was exploited to make your garments unethically and you paid exactly the price it deserves. Custom made does sound like a privilege in some countries. If you’re in India, its time to find your nearest tailor!
- Second Hand or Thrift Shopping: Vintage shopping, thrift shopping, and second-hand swapping is an acquired taste if you aren’t used to the idea of pre-loved clothes. But it’s time to turn that around. Follow clothes-swap coordinators on social media and stay updated on the next swapping event coming to your city. Even just by participating in swaps regularly, you will be able to update your wardrobe if you feel bored with looking at the same old clothes. Swapping is a great way to ensure your wardrobe quantity stays under control and you aren’t buried under an excessive number of clothes you don’t even use anymore. If you are on Instagram, check out these pages without fail: @exchangeroom @fair.trunk @gstitched @suss @switcheroo_clothingexchange @swaptillyoudrop @_gstitched @thisforthatcloset
- Look for Natural, and Resource-efficient fabrics: Microplastics are washed out in the drain when polyester clothes are put to wash. Going forth, invest only in durable pieces and try to make sure your garment is made from natural fibres. You may still have polyester clothes from your old days, but sustainable fashion resolutions to change the way you shop can help you focus on finding great pieces made only from innovative new fabrics. Hemp is a fibre to look out for. Avoid pieces that have plastic embroidery on them such as sequins and plastic beads, which is another source of microplastic. Instead, pt for thread/glass/zari embroidery that’s durable.
- Give your wardrobe a long life: Wash your clothes less frequently to prevent wasting too much water that you don’t need to. Find techniques to sterilize your clothes without excessive washing. A simple Vodka + water spray can work for a quick dose of freshness. Letting your clothes dry in the sun is great too! Especially for polyester clothing that leaves out microplastic with every use, we must be mindful of how we can find quick sustainable methods to maintain our clothing. Excessive washing can wear out your clothing quickly.
- Watch the Denim Water footprint: Despite being made of cotton, high usage of chemical dyes and thousands of liters of water to make this product leads to denim being one of the most resource-intensive products. New brands are trying to come up with technology to make denim more sustainable, but until then, If you absolutely ought to buy denims, invest in the most durable ones or just go for second hand. Denims don’t require frequent washes. Denim’s are known for their ability to be reused several times before they need to be washed. And if you wish to dispose of your old denim, donate it to upcycling organizations who can create value and keep it in the loop, like www.dwij.com
- Avoid Fast fashion: Big corporations and brands roll out new collections of clothes every few months to keep up with customers who are spoilt for choice. Ever thought about what happens to the millions of clothes that are never purchased? They are often dumped in landfill or incinerated to make space for fresh arrivals. The big ones to avoid are brands like Zara, H&M, Forever 21, and many others who try to imitate the same fast model.
This toxic cycle of trends that forces companies to constantly roll out cheap and low-quality fashion just for the purpose of making profits has now become one of the leading problems in environmental pollution. Even the fabrics are all polyester or blends, to reduce the prices, and the workers are labouring for less than the working wages of their countries to get you your favourite piece at an “affordable” rate.
Our ancestors did not have the luxury to shop out of impulse. They lived minimally and thus their lifestyle was unintentionally sustainable to begin with. Diwali was a good time to take a look at their basic needs and treat themselves to something they really deserved. But in today’s fast world, we need to put the brakes on the practice of buying new items for the status quo.
For better or for worse, Diwali has become a day for buying new items and crazy sales in the modern age! So, make sure you make the most sustainable choice possible in the midst of this crazy consumerism that has been killing our planet. You never know if you end up starting a new trend unintentionally.
This Diwali, shop wisely and redefine what it means to treat yourself to something new. If times are changing, so can Diwali traditions!