How To Not Contribute To Clothing Waste Whilst Travelling

We've all been there, half way across the world picking out parachute pants or 'hilarious' shirts with phrases that are actually more offensive than hilarious (case in point: 'nem vagyok turista, magyar vagyok'). They cost next to nothing (to our wallets) and we wear them out quickly and throw them away. After flying and eating animal products, this is probably the third most destructive and irresponsible of all of our thoughtless behaviours. Let's explore why, and, what the alternatives are: 

We need to talk about the clothing industry 

Fast fashion is awful - when the materials aren't being made from animal skins (leather and suede) and dead worms (silk) or 'merely' tortured animals (wool); they're being made from the earth's irreplaceable resources (plastic is made from oil). But even when they're made from natural resources like cotton, the fields are often made at the expense of the environment - tearing down natural habitats to make profit etc.  

And it doesn't stop there. Perhaps you don't care about animals (hence why you're still eating them) or the world we share, but what about humans? Because fast fashion is always made at the expense of humans, and more often than not it's women, who have to work in atrocious and dangerous conditions - many aren't allowed toilet breaks and are forced to wear diapers, many are at risk every day from chemicals or other poisons - a risk that's increased by them being forced to work 12 hour+ days. 

And then there's the impact of getting the clothes from the global south (where they're often made) all the way to the Western high streets. 

So, we get it, the clothing industry is awful, but what can we do?

1. Stop feeding the beast

I don't want you to read this and start feeling guilty every time you go into Primark or H&M. I want you to just quit going into those shops. It's easy. Your wallet will thank you, and maybe one day so will the planet. And you won't look like a boring clone of everyone else. It's a win-win-win. It's fact that there is enough resources out there for everyone. So next time you get the shopping itch, step into a charity shop. There's an abundance of clothes, you get something that's so much more unique, and the money goes straight to charity.

2. Pick your clothing companies wisely

So sometimes you might want something that fits you exactly, or something brand new - it's okay, I get it. When you have that particular itch, I urge you to opt for sustainable companies. Bambigo for example does everything from underwear to bathrobes and everything in-between. And they're made of bamboo. Yes, not silk, wool, leather, suede or plastic but bamboo, which is awesome because bamboo is quick and easy to grow and takes little water. 

How to do all this whilst travelling 

Last but not least, all of this is doable whilst at home where you know the area, the good charity shops, and you can wait around for delivery. But how do you do it when you're far away and travelling full time? Firstly, I recommend pre-planning before you start travelling, of course, but that may not be very helpful to you right now if you're already on the move. So, secondly, I recommend travelling slowly - not just so you can have the time to receive deliveries and find the good shops, but because it's just environmentally kinder. And you'll actually receive a real insight into the country (or countries) you're travelling, you can live like a real local and not just blaze through as a tourist in some not-pc shirt. 

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We overland. We eat plants and fungi. We live outside as much as possible. We are all connected. A female travel blogger overlanding and writing about ecotourism, ethical and sustainable travel, socially conscious travel and housesitting. An online travel magazine since 2015.


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