Many of us love to shop. There's even a term - retail therapy - that acknowledges those endorphins that start pumping. But imagine a high even higher when we purchase things that last and make a difference for the people who make them and the planet that births them. That high lasts longer when each time we look in our closet, we feel joy to own the things we do - in contrast of the feeling of having too much junk. To make the high last, we have to know how to shop for products that are part of a circular economy. To do this, we first have to understand what's not part of it and why? 




Navigating sustainable shopping is confusing, especially if you aren’t familiar with the lingo. We’ve put together a shortlist of terms to know to set you on your sustainable shopping journey.


An industry that maximizes profit by manufacturing and marketing a large volume of clothing. Fast fashion is meant to be disposable and cheap at the expense of the environment and human rights.





Goes hand in hand with ethical fashion to infuse positive social and economic change into the fashion industry. It tries to minimize negative ecological, social, and economic impacts of consumerism. “Sustainable” is a broad but widely used term, so be mindful and investigate the environmental and labor practices of companies and products that claim to be sustainable.



An economic philosophy that says buying more is always better and that your wellbeing and happiness are positively linked to the amount you spend -- if you spend more, you’ll be happier.



Choosing to buy long-lasting, quality garments made sustainably and ethically. It requires being aware of the human, environmental, and social costs of making a modern garment. The opposite of fast fashion.



Mindfully keeping only what you value while considering the environment by fixing what is broken and letting go of what you do not need.



False or misleading claims by companies that they are environmentally conscious/friendly. Consumers are led to think that these products and companies are more sustainable than they actually are.



Exactly what it sounds like! A transparent brand identifies the factories it uses, is honest about its employees’ salaries and company-wide working conditions, explains how it minimizes its environmental footprint, and beyond. Posting pictures of factories or workers does not necessarily equal transparency.


Good On you - What is slow fashion?, Sustainable fashion glossary

Sustainable Jungle - What is greenwashing?

The Good Trade - What is fast fashion?

Investopedia - Greenwashing, Consumerism





Fashion is fun and creative, but it also has real-world impacts beyond helping us express ourselves. Most of us take this industry for granted and many do not give it much thought, thinking perhaps that it is trivial or that artists and fashion designers bear responsibility for its social, economic, or environmental effects. In fact, making changes take knowledge and group effort.




Fast fashion has disastrous impacts on the planet, people, and animals. Let’s face it, the apparel industry is the 2nd most polluting industry to freshwater and is responsible for an incredible 10% of the entire carbon output in the world -- that is 5x more carbon output than all airlines combined!



Nowadays, polyester is one of the most common textiles used in the fashion industry. Polyester is a type of fiber made up of plastic, and thus fossil fuels. Its use grew proportionally with the rise of fast fashion. The process of creating this material is extremely energy-intensive in comparison to linen, cotton, wool, and viscose. Polyester is also non-breathable, which means that, unlike these natural and semi-natural fibers, it traps body heat. And while some forms of polyester are biodegradable, such as plant-based polyester, most of them are non-biodegradable, like ethylene polyester. In other words, almost every piece of polyester plastic ever made still exists today. To put this into perspective, billions of pieces of clothing are manufactured every year and most of them end up in landfills around the world.

When polyester is washed, the fiber sheds thousands of microplastics that end up in our oceans, water systems, and eventually our food chain. Fish consume these microplastics and when we eat fish, those chemicals end up in our bodies and can result in a variety of health issues. Unlike other plastic waste in the oceans, the microplastics are difficult to notice and remove, making them one of the biggest pollutants.



A few decades ago, 95% of our wardrobe in the United States was American-made. Today, this percentage is less than 2%, with China being the United States’ biggest trading partner. The clothing production process is energy intensive, with 77% of the energy supply coming from coal, the dirtiest (most-polluting) form of energy. However, many large businesses claim to be ethical and sustainable while selling items relatively cheaply. This is also known as greenwashing.

Cheap prices usually mean cheap labor. The majority of those working in the fast fashion industry are locked in a channel of poverty. ⅙ of people around the world work in the apparel industry, about 80% of them are women, and 98% of them are not receiving minimum wages and barely receive healthcare coverage, if any.

In the fashion industry, the words ethical and sustainable have no official definition but are widely used. Some organizations take advantage of the vague meaning of these words and claim to be ethical and environmentally friendly when they are barely doing the minimum.Lack of transparency is a characteristic of these kinds of companies. Posting pictures of factories or workers does not necessarily mean they are transparent. Transparency is when a brand is willing to name the factories they work with, when they are honest about their employees’ salaries and working conditions, their handling of dyes, and more.

Moreover, many famous brands employ shadow factories. This is when a brand works with a 5 star factory that they advertise and audit, but secretly outsource their production to another factory -- called a shadow factory -- to speed up the process for cheaper prices. Oftentimes, these shadow factories put their workers in very harsh and unethical conditions.



The apparel industry is the 2nd biggest polluter of freshwater. 90% of dye houses in the developing world dye their products and then release it into local fresh water supplies, polluting the water the people drink and causing diseases and illnesses. On a similar note, cotton as a textile material happens to be the 4th largest pesticide consuming crop, which damages the environment and poisons the soil. The best thing one could do is buy organic cotton!

As much as the fast fashion industry is frustrating, we have power as consumers to change the industry for the better! By interrogating the brands you buy from and patronizing companies with truly sustainable business models, you can encourage the growth of a more equitable and ethical fashion industry (and world!). For more information on how you can become a responsible consumer, check out our article in the journal.



Good On You - Fast Fashion Facts

TED TALK: Fast Fashion’s Effect on People, the Planet, & You

The High Cost of our Cheap Fashion on YouTube Over consumption in the fashion industry



You’ve seen it, you know it, you probably own it. Fast fashion is ubiquitous in our fast-paced, constantly documented modern world. Given how entrenched it is in our culture, it seems like fast fashion has been around for forever. But it is actually a relatively new phenomenon, one that has evolved with our demands on our clothing.






Until the 1800s, clothing and textiles were hand-produced – by necessity.This cottage system relied on individual producers (usually women and girls) who were paid by the piece. They worked when it was convenient for them – after they had put their kids to bed, before their families woke up in the mornings, whenever they had a few minutes in their day.

Because of the human effort it took to produce textiles, new garments were expensive and generally reserved for the wealthier classes. The more clothes in your closet, the wealthier you appeared to be, and the higher your social status. But because it was so expensive, people up and down the social ladder regularly recycled their clothing into new outfits. Sustainability was a necessity if you wanted to update your wardrobe.

Even the wealthy found ways to avoid buying brand new outfits -- Queen Elizabeth I of England was also the queen of recycling her clothing. At the time, how you dressed had a huge impact on how you were perceived by the public, which meant that the young queen had to dress well to cement her status as ruler. Because her father, King Henry VIII, mismanaged the Royal Treasury, she had to work with limited funds. Ingeniously, she had her servants reuse fabric from her old gowns to make new ones to fool her court into thinking her wardrobe was much bigger than it was in reality. That’s why you won’t see her outfits in museums today.

With the Industrial Revolution, everything changed. New technology made it easier to make clothes quickly. Mass production also meant that clothing became much less expensive to produce. That savings that was passed on to consumers, who could then afford to buy clothes more often. Fashion became “democratized” as the practice of regularly updating your wardrobe became accessible to the new middle class that had evolved during this period.

As online shopping took off in the late-20th century, fashion sped up even more. Brands like Zara and H&M were able to streamline their production so that trends seen online and on the catwalk could be reproduced and inexpensively sold to consumers within a matter of days. $3 and $5 shirts and dresses became the norm, making it easy for nearly anyone to purchase trendy clothing. Before the Industrial Revolution, regular folks were lucky to get just a few new dresses a year. Now, we throw away an average of over 60 pounds of clothing per year per person.

Industrialized fashion also comes with risks. From the start, sweatshops and child labor were used to produce a lot of these new clothes, kickstarting the mistreatment of garment workers that continues in the fast fashion industry today. The main difference between now and then is that today, a large part of the garment industry is centered in “developing” countries, far from the eyes of Western consumers. Tragedies like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City in 1911 have modern equivalents in horrors like the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in 2013. Both killed record numbers of people, the majority being women and girls.

In view of the human cost of $5 shirts, it’s time to take a lesson from history on how to buy and wear clothing. Maybe Queen Elizabeth was on to something -- making our clothing last through conscious recycling and reusing has the potential to save lives.



Good On You - What is Fast Fashion

The True Cost film

Vice - A Five-Minute History of Fast Fashion

Elizabeth I’s Royal Wardrobe - Royal Museums Greenwich

Tudor Fashion, an interview with Eleri Lynn- Dressed: The History of Fashion podcast

Eleri Lynn, Tudor Fashion (book)




There are so many problems in the world, and it can be overwhelming thinking about how and where to begin. When it comes to fashion, there are so many little steps we can take to make a difference. We've boiled it down to 7.


Check out the brands you usually shop from. Ask questions about how ethical and transparent they are especially in regard to their supply chain... 




Ask: what do I value about these clothes? What’s their purpose? Are they making me feel better about myself? Will I wear it for a long time or is it just trendy? Does the brand’s story and ethics align with my values? Who made the clothes? Do they get fair wages?

Next time you go shopping, check the tags. Understand where your clothes are made and what their materials are. Check the seams of the clothing! They can tell you a lot about the quality of the item. If you turn the clothes inside out -for example when trying them in the dressing room- you can sometimes see the seams coming apart. Ask yourself, is this piece going to last me a long time? Are the materials organic? What are the names of factories the brand works with? Are the mills certified? Are they dealing with their dye and water appropriately?

Stay up to date with the fashion industry’s new methods to become greener, and stay alert for greenwashing.

See our article about terms in the fashion industry you need to know.



Learn the simple art of hand stitching with needles and thread. You can alter your existing clothes so that they fit you better and last longer or mix and match pieces of fabric to create new items.



Think about the dozens of items in your closet that you barely wear. Many of them still have price tags on them after months of purchase, or they haven’t been worn in years. Make it a habit to clean your closet every once in a while, perhaps every 6 months to a year. And if your items are in good condition, donate, trade, or sell them. Applications such as Poshmark, eBay, Vinted, ThreadUp, and Depop allow you to sell your existing items to extend the life of those pieces and provide them a new home while making some money.


You can also donate your clothes to help charities or grow your new second hand clothing business. Or, trade clothes with your friends! It is a very easy and exciting way to change your wardrobe and shop in your friends and family’s closets.


If the items you have are not necessarily in great condition, recycle them. Think about all the socks you have had throughout your life that you simply threw away. Did you know that in the US alone, 25 billion pounds of textile are wasted every year, and only 15% of that is recycled, while the rest goes to landfills.



Think quality over quantity. Nowadays, marketing campaigns and social media are in constant competition to encourage us to keep buying through advertisements that remind us that we are not enough or that we are lacking or that a certain product will suddenly complete us and make us happier. Buy more basic and minimalist items that can be reworn in different styles and that are of better quality instead of constantly getting cheap clothes that would only last you a few wears. See your purchase as an investment and take responsibility for your actions and choices. True, we are all tempted by fast fashion -- it’s just so accessible. However, cheap clothing means cheap labor, drastic consequences on the environment, and unethical business practices. We need to be constantly aware of the effects of our shopping choices. Perhaps try to limit purchases to once every few months.

The value of the items we own often comes from the sentimental experiences we had while using them. We all have to realize, though, that those memories and experiences are more valuable than the items themselves. Keeping a lot of items only for the sake of the experiences you associate with them can reduce the value of those memories and leave you with clutter. Yes, you can keep an item or two to remind you of someone or a certain experience, but when you have less items, each one of them becomes more and more valuable and precious.

Read our articles about minimalism.

Think about garment life cycle: its materials, how it is produced, its end life and where it ends up after use. Think also about the relationship between nature and the ethics of our actions. After researching fast fashion for a week, I entered a large department store with my mother only to realize how guilty I felt buying extremely cheap items. Of course, my mom was incredibly enthusiastic and couldn’t believe how great it was to find relatively good pieces at such cheap prices, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the people who make these clothes and their working conditions. Perhaps clothes should not be this cheap or easily accessible. Maybe they need to be expensive -to an extent- but of good quality.

Challenge yourself to wear and rewear your clothes! Challenge yourself to stop shopping for an entire year. Too difficult? Start slow. Try to not buy clothes for a month or two. But most importantly, love what you buy!



Extend the life of your garments. Look up stores in your area that sell second hand items. Many of them are in great condition and sometimes haven’t even been worn, so they offer a great opportunity to get quality items for cheaper prices too. You can also buy recycled materials.


During the Covid-19 pandemic, shopping in person has become difficult or nearly impossible. You can still shop secondhand through online stores such as ReRuns and apps like Poshmark, Depop, eBay, and more.



Check out our feature of these ethical organizations that can help you gain knowledge and make better shopping decisions:  

Good On You // IG: @goodonyou_app

Eco-Age // IG: @ecoage

Wardrobe Crisis Podcast by Clare Press // @thewardrobecrisis

Fashion Revolution // @fash_rev

Masters of Good // IG: @mastersofgood 

GoodHuman // @get_goodhuman

Fashion Heroes //



Learn about the fashion industry and its negative effects on the environment, on people working in it, and on you! Watch TED talks, read articles, follow sites like Good On You and Good Human, and use the power you have as a consumer!

Examples of TED & TEDx Talks used in this article:


We have (purchase) power as consumers! What we choose to purchase dictates where the fashion industry is headed and how it reacts to change. Individually, it takes simple changes that add up to big changes in our lives, the environment, and producers around the world.  


For more information on fast fashion and its disastrous effects on the world, see our article in the journal.



Good On You - Fast Fashion Facts

TED TALK: Fast Fashion’s Effect on People, the Planet, & You

The High Cost of our Cheap Fashion on YouTube Over consumption in the fashion industry




Good On You // IG: @goodonyou_app emphasizes that what is good on the planet, people, and animals is good on you! GoodOnYou offers its website and app as reference to learn more about the fashion industry, get to know ethical brands based on their rating system, and read stories, articles, tips & guides and more. One of their most interesting articles is “How Can You Tell When A Fashion Brand Is Greenwashing?

GoodOnYou allows you to search through thousands of rated brands to find more information about the brands you like and discover new brands working for a healthier lifestyle. They also provide you with a criteria for their rating method for a better and clearer comprehension.

For an inside look on the story of GoodOnYou, read or listen to our interview with Sandra Capponi, the Co-Founder of




Eco-Age // IG: @ecoage

Eco-Age guides businesses to include sustainability measures across their brand strategy to meet high social, environmental, and governance standards. They incorporate principles such as community and giving, transparency and communication, product life cycle, fair work and human rights, and more that are necessary for businesses as well as everyday individuals. Eco-Age also does advocacy work with a variety of NGOs, charities and organizations, including global projects that campaign for a more ethical and sustainable world.


Wardrobe Crisis Podcast x Clare Press // IG: @thewardrobecrisis @mrspress

Produced by the first ever Sustainable Fashion Editor at Vogue, Clare Press hails from England, lives in Australia, and travels the world to meet and interview her subjects to get first hand evidence of the work they are doing toward a more sustainable fashion supply chain. Her award winning reporting has called big brands into question as well as celebrated deserved triumphs of large and small sustainable pioneers alike.

ARTICLE22 knows first hand Clare's commitment to the highest standard of reporting because she joined us in Laos in 2019 - two weeks later, we sat together in the rural mountain village where our artisan partners work. Check out: Wardrobe Crisis Podcast 121, ARTICLE22 - Upcycling, Purpose & Peace After the Secret War in Laos and the second part, Podcast 122, Antiwar Photographer Giles Duley - our extraordinary partner, collaborator, and founder of Legacy of War Foundation.


Fashion Revolution // IG: @fash_rev 

Fashion Revolution is a global movement that envisions “a global fashion industry that conserves and restores the environment and values people over growth and profit.” Their team consists of people from all over the world from different industries related and unrelated to fashion. They are consumers, designers, and simply citizens of the world. They aim to make cultural, policy, and industry change according to their website and Instagram page.


Masters of Good  // IG: @mastersofgood

Masters of Good redefines “the notions of quality, growth and success for businesses, thus contributing to a much needed global culture shift.” You can sign up to be a member and keep up with this community of individuals and businesses that focus on shifting our single-use reality to a sustainable one. They hold events and talks and serve as a guide for information and brand recommendations.


GoodHuman // IG: @get_goodhuman

 They host discussions on Youtube about sustainability, amongst other topics. They provide links to articles, blogs, and videos from different sources to help you keep up with the industry and how it is changing. The categories range from curated mindfulness streamboards, fashion and makeup tips, brand suggestions, holistic health of the body and mind, conscious culture, thoughtful DIYs, and more.

 They also have a great feature where you can save your favorite posts into folders of your liking. I personally loved this idea especially since it can be ultimately used as a guide.


Fashion Heroes // IG:

As listed on their website, Fashion Heroes offers a space for people “to speak up about sustainable fashion, to learn more about brands that are taking steps in the right direction and to see how we can all participate to make wise choices in fashion, for the better of all people and the environment!”


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Amethyst, the divine healer initiates wisdom and understanding arousing the life source within. Its energies are soothing and balancing allowing information, magic and dreams to flow. Derived from the Greek word “ametusthos,” meaning “not intoxicated,” it was believed to be a courageous stone, having the power to aid one in breaking negative patterns with conscious awareness and fortitude. In Greek mythology, the Goddess Artemis turns the beautiful maiden, Amethyst, into crystalline quartz to protect her from tigers unleashed by the wrath of Dionysus, the God of Wine & Ritual Madness. Dionysus, filled with guilt for having caused Amethyst's transformation, whom was an innocent by stander, the God wept tears of wine, staining the quartz purple. Amethyst graces the third eye, crown and etheric chakras and represents the birth month of February.


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