You might be surprised to learn that the fashion industry is the second largest polluter after oil—we purchase 400 percent more clothing today than we did in the ‘80s, but keep our garments for half as long!

Our consumption habits are not entirely to blame. The way our clothing is made — from the materials chosen, to the chemicals and dyes used to treat our clothes, and the number of damaged or unsold garments in landfills — leaves the industry complicit in polluting.

We should also consider the people who make our clothes.  Women make up 80 percent of the garment industry, many of them working in unsafe conditions for extremely low wages. There are also more than 170 million young people engaged in child labour, most of whom are working in the fashion industry.

How we choose to spend our money as consumers can have a massive impact on the industry. If we continue to purchase cheap, poorly-made clothing, we’re contributing to the problem. If we don’t research the brands we buy from or seek fair-trade or organic clothing, we can make the problem worse. And if we don’t slow down our consumption and invest in our wardrobe by buying fewer quality pieces, we’re perpetuating a destructive cycle.

There are some fantastic brand champions like Eileen Fisher, Patagonia, Reformation, and Levi’s, that have always been sustainable or who are currently in transition because it’s the right thing to do, but we have to take control of the situation. We have to buy less, and vote with our wallet!

Learn more at and check out our 7 R’s of Fashion — not just reduce, reuse, recycle but also repurpose, research, rent, and repair!