5 Things Every Fashionista Should Know - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog


5 Things Every Fashionista Should Know

Being a fashion-conscious and eco-conscious consumer is possible with these tips!


When I was growing up, girls I went to school with loved hanging out at the mall. While I never understood this, fashion companies sure do. That’s why they pump out new styles every week, as cheaply made as possible.

While most people love $7 tops and $20 shoes, I’d rather compile a quality collection of sustainably-made (and non-toxic) clothing. That’s why I make every effort to be a conscious consumer, doing my research on the fashion industry and looking for alternatives to fast fashion.

5 Things Every Fashionista Should Know

Fast fashion is the new normal for major retailers

What I found out was that the true cost of fast fashion is far greater than any bargain. For starters, if there’s a new “season” of clothes every week, you’re bound to be out-of-style before you’ve even worn your new find. To keep up you have to buy more and toss more – the average American throws out more than 68 pounds of textiles per year!

And that’s just the beginning of the environmental impact. In order to keep costs down, manufacturers don’t adhere to safety standards and some of your fave inexpensive accessories contain lead, in addition to all the other chemicals – pesticides, insecticides, formaldehyde, and flame-retardants – that are routinely used in mainstream fashion.

20% of all water pollution comes from the apparel industry. If we change the way we shop we can make a huge impact.

Perhaps the most tragic cost of all is the human cost, with up to 60 percent of fashion being produced by ‘informal’ workers, there’s no way to regulate their working conditions. But you don’t have to participate in all this madness. You can step out of the fast fashion system, by following the below tips:

5 Things Every Fashionista Should Know

Vintage shopping is a fab eco-conscious choice

5 Things Every Fashionista Should Know:

  1. Shop vintage. The most reliable path to being a sustainable fashionista is to by buying vintage. While you can’t be sure the vintage piece was ethically made, by purchasing a vintage piece you’re breathing new life into something that might have been discarded into a landfill. Here’s my guide to getting great deals on eBay.
  2. Look for natural materials. Did you know that polyester is actually toxic because it’s made from petroleum? Always avoid synthetic fabrics (and that includes quasi-synthetics like bamboo), as the dyes used in these materials are particularly toxic.
  3. Manufacturing practices and supply chain matters. For example, bamboo products are being marketed as green, when because bamboo is processed with so many chemicals, it becomes toxic. And even if a brand uses “organic” cotton doesn’t mean they’re using non-toxic dyes. There are some certifying companies such as Oekotex or GOTS which cover parts of the supply chain, so you can also look out for those certifications.
  4. Think you can just wash away the toxins? Think again. Washing clothing does not thoroughly remove toxins, but it does spread the toxins to our local water.
  5. Made in… where?? There is a lot of haziness in labelling law, since it’s a ‘standard’ rather than a rule. Companies take advantage of that and put a ‘Made in USA’ label when the component parts are not actually American made.

The good news is that fashion-conscious consumers don’t have to compromise. A simple rule that I’ve adopted is to buy less, but more high-quality, items I love. I try to find brands that don’t use toxic dyes and chemicals or unaccounted labor. Just high-quality, high-fashion.


A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she spends most of her time in France, NYC, London and Switzerland, and travels extensively around the world. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 25 Comments

  1. Anne Robinson

    Everything is toxic nowadays. However, if you farm your own cotton, dye it your self, manufacture it yourself and make fabric from it. You can be sure that no toxicity would be there.

  2. Joyce Scott

    Why bother? We are gonna die anyway. Why not wear what you want and deal with the consequences later.

  3. This article really opened my eyes! I had no ideas my clothes were so toxic and has such an impact on the environment. Guess I just never stopped to think about it. Going to have to reevaluate my wardrobe….

    • Thanks for reading, Sarah. The good news is that once you reevaluate, getting dressed is so much easier and actually feels great!

    • Pegah Aarabi

      Interviewing Maxine was so eye opening for me – I also had to reevaluate my wardrobe!

  4. I’m going to start buying from these vintage shops more often. Who would’ve thought that fashion can harm the environment?

    • There are still great options out there it is just a matter of knowing what to look for before you buy.

  5. Is there better protection against these toxins if I buy in Europe? I know they have better protection for chemicals in general, but does that mean they also have better protection for toxins in clothing and textiles?

    • Laws are changing in the EU regarding toxins much faster than they are in the US, but unfortunately it still does not mean buying clothing their leaves you better protected. Not yet, anyway.

    • Not necessarily as you have to consider the entire supply chain. You should look for USDA “Certified Organic” and GOTS certification ensures that both the fiber is organic and the dyeing/finishing process is non-toxic. Our own collection meets / exceeds these standards.

  6. Francis Woods

    OMG I didn’t realize that clothing could poison me! I have bamboo sheets! Should I get rid of them? What should I replace them with??

    • Additionally, if you are buying non-organic sheets, OEKO-Tex Standard 100 certification will ensure that there are no toxic chemicals used in the textile dyeing and finishing process.

    • Linen and hemp are excellent replacements. Particularly if organic. In addition, organic cotton sheets are a great replacement as well.

    • Pegah Aarabi

      What I did was not throw out what already had but buy more consciously going forward.

    • Try organic cotton or industrial hemp 🙂

      • But she said even organic cotton can be toxic…

        • Not all, though. Only if they’re using toxic dyes.

          • Look out for GOTS certification, just make sure that there is certification through the entire supply chain. This link has an option: http://www.beyondbeds.com/certified-organic-cotton-sheets.aspx. Hope that helps!

          • If buying organic, you should always look for “certified organic” (such as USDA) and GOTS, to ensure that there aren’t dangerous chemicals used in dyeing and finishing.

          • Right. But there’s no way to know if they are, no? Also, I thought they use toxic chemicals to process the bamboo???

  7. Gabrielle Williams

    Bamboo is toxic? Jeez. And here I was wanting to wear more bamboo-ish clothing.

  8. Hannah Meyers

    Wow. I never thought it was this much waste. This is a very enlightening read. 😀 Kudos you guys!

    • I’m also thinking, why aren’t there more reports out there about this? Are people really naive about the textile industry?

      • We wish there was more. We post facts to our instagram account @zady and have more in depth research articles on our site. Just trying to get the word out!

      • Great question. The information is out there it just isn’t readily available and can be difficult to find.

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