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How to Be a Conscious Consumer | Fast Fashion Series II

How to Be a Conscious Consumer | Fast Fashion Series II

How to Be a Conscious Consumer | Fast Fashion Series II

It seems to happen magically… the collection of clothing. You never really realize how much you have until you fill up two or three garbage bags full and wonder how the heck you collected so much crap. By being a conscious consumer we can effectively limit the amount of clothing we waste money on or end up tossing out within the span of a year.

How to be a Conscious Consumer

First, it is important to know the impact of the fast fashion industry. If you’d like to learn about what the fast fashion industry is, make sure to check out my first post in this series: What is Fast Fashion?

Second, we have to know what being a conscious consumer means and involves. Being a conscious consumer is about realizing the impact that our spending habits and purchases have on the environment and our health. This can apply to everyday purchases like buying organic vs. non-organic groceries, or certain clothing products over others.


How to be a Conscious Consumer: Fabric Choices

In the last post about fast fashion, we discussed two fabrics in particular. Cotton and Petroleum based fabrics like nylon and polyester. Of course we can’t all walk around naked all the time (especially in the winter!) We definitely still need to purchase clothing, there’s absolutely no denying that!

Sustainable Natural Fabric Choices

There are a wide variety of natural fibers that can be used for clothing such as organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, Tencel/Lyocell and linen.

Organic Cotton

Organic Cotton is grown without toxic pesticides and fertilizers. In the U.S there are strict regulations on what qualifies for Organic Cotton status. They do not allow genetically modified (GMO) seed to be used for the production of organic cotton. Instead of traditional chlorine bleaching, Organic cotton is whitened with peroxide.

Due to the lack of cheap, toxic products to be used during production the cost of Organic cotton is much higher than non-Organic cotton.


Hemp is one of the most environmentally-friendly fabrics available on the market. Unlike cotton, Hemp requires very little water and is much more naturally resistant to pests. It is a strong, non-allergenic fiber. Although it can be costly and is often blended with cotton in order to reduce cost and make the textile softer to the touch.


Similar to Hemp, bamboo grows quickly and requires no pesticides or fertilizers. It also uses less water during production than cotton. Bamboo fibers are very soft on their own and are naturally biodegradable. However, during the process to transform Bamboo into a usable textile the use of Sodium Hydroxide – a toxic chemical is needed. Therefore, it is not the best option for an organic wardrobe (though much better than regular cotton.)


Tencel/ Lyocell is from the Eucalyptus plant. It requires very little water and can be grown on arid (dry) land. It does not need pesticides or fertilizers and is a very soft fabric. Unlike Hemp, Lyocell does not need to be blended with cotton.


Linen is derived from the Flax plant. Upon harvesting, all parts of the plant are used and therefore it is a completely zero-waste product. Linen is a strong fiber that lasts a very long time, however it does tend to wrinkle.


Modal is derived from sustainably harvesting Beech trees. Modal is a strong fiber that is often blended with other fibers as it is such a durable fiber. It does not discolour easily nor is it prone to shrinkage.

If you want to learn about even more natural textiles, 1 million women has a great and exhaustive list of the various fibers. 


How to be a Conscious Consumer: Where do your textiles come from?

Finding fabrics that do not include toxic manufacturing processes and achieve certain organic certifications is a part of the battle. However, a huge factor of the Fashion industry is a transport. There are certain fabrics that can only be produced in certain parts of the world. For example, Lyocell cannot be grown or produced in Canada therefore the textile has to come a very long way before it is even available to the consumer.

Sadly transportation does add to the impact of fashion so it is important to research which fibers are native to your country and environment as well. Currently, Linen and Hemp are grown in Canada and therefore are a better option than Lyocell – even though lyocell may be a great fiber!

Being a conscious consumer means to actively check labels – read the tag on the back of your clothing to find out what it is made of and where it comes from. It may be the most environmentally-friendly fabric available, but if it has travelled around the world then it might have lost much of it’s environmentally-friendly background. 

In the next installment of the Fast Fashion series I’ll be sharing tips on creating a sustainable wardrobe!

Go check your clothing labels to see where they’re from! 



Sustainable Fabrics – The Good

Global Organic Textile Standards

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  • This was an informative post, thanks for sharing! 🙂 I have been trying to consider fabric more when I buy things, partly because when you have little kids jumping all over you you want to be wearing soft, natural things, but also things you can machine wash, haha!

    I’m going to be considering fabric even more when shopping once my 6 months no shop challenge is over 🙂

    Hope you have had a relaxing weekend and have a nice start to the week.

    Away From The Blue Blog

  • Thanks for this helpful breakdown on sustainable fabric choices. I’m a fan of Tencel because of how comfortable it is to wear and it’s also fairly easy to care for. And it’s also 100% biodegradable.

  • The main problem I have with ethical and sustainable brands, fabrics is the fact the price range is usually pretty high and most of us just can’t afford it. I’m less concerned about that these days not because I recently won the lotto but these days I aim for quality over quantity but for the majority, that would be a concern.

    • Yes, I agree. The prices are verrry high! I did find that when I was looking for some new pieces as well.

  • SamanthaSeries

    So interesting learning about the Fabrics! I always wondered what Tencel and Modal were. Love this series.

    Samantha Series

  • I dont have to check, most of my clothes are from god knows where. It is good to learn more about the fibres and that, but my main problem is that there is just not much options available that is sustainable, made in Germany and looks good. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the price point. I happily pay more for good quality clothes, but I am sure not everyone can afford that.

    Linda, Libra, Loca: Beauty, Baby and Backpacking

    • Haha, fair enough! We have the same problem here – we grow hemp and linen but it isn’t manufactured in Canada. Most likely ships to the U.S and then back! You’re right, not everyone can afford to pay the high prices for the more sustainable brands.

      • Thing is, I probably could, so I need to make an effort. My clothes are falling to pieces and need to be replaced (after 6 years+ of extensive wear), so this little series of yours comes right in time.

  • This was so good and interesting to read, I hardly ever read the label but just reading about these fibers takes me back to my school days haha!

  • This was such a good post! I loved your tips. I think it is so important to see where your stuff is made and the fabric as well 🙂

  • I’ve tried to make sure that most of my clothing purchases are natural fibers– cotton, wool, etc. I had no idea that modal and lyocell were sustainable fabrics! I’m happy to have learned I have more options now 🙂

    Mili | Sharmtoaster

  • Kay (shoesandglitter)

    Loving these tips, hun! I didn’t really know much about natural fabrics before, so I am definitely happy to have learned more about that, so thank you! <3 I like what you said at the beginning about the fast fashion culture, and I think this mentality we have applies to more than just fashion – also makeup, beauty products in general, even food, etc. I have recently completely purged my wardrobe, actually, I recycled most of my clothes and now I'm down to about 20-30 items that I actually love and use on a regular basis, as opposed to hundreds of random pieces of clothing that were just sitting there gathering dust. It felt so refreshing to do that! Thanks for sharing this, love, and I hope that you're having a wonderful Easter weekend! 🙂 xoxo


  • La Veine

    These are great tips, thank you for this informative post!

  • I am loving this series! I feel like I learned a lot from this post. I have to admit that I don’t check tags usually. I mean, I do check what fabric the clothing is of but I rarely check where it was made. Now I will definitely try to check it out more! So thank you for this post and I can’t wait for the next one 🙂 x

    -Leta | The Nerdy Me

  • I always look for organic cotton and bamboo in my beddings but I never really thought about it for clothing…I’ve really cut down my wardrobe in half so perhaps when I do buy new things I’ll keep an eye for these more often. But also to be honest sometimes these things are costly especially when they are local brands. I’d love to support more Canadian clothing brands with more environmental friendly fabrics but often times the prices are way out of my budget. I’m sure it’s not hopeless or I can just continue to keep thifting and looking for these things as well. All great tips though! I’m looking forward to more on your series!


  • Pingback: How to Create a Sustainable Wardrobe | Fast Fashion Series III - Sustainably Savvy | Green Health, Beauty + Lifestyle()

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