Who made my clothes? The damage of fast fashion explained.
Over the past twenty years, there has been a huge shift in the way in which we consume. This goes for everything from digital content to the clothes we wear. Many of us love to shop and enjoy the thrill of finding that new perfect outfit for the next event, and it has become so easy to find an item of clothing for the same price as your morning coffee. There are countless fast fashion brands out there advertising the cheap prices, quick turnarounds, and constant new designs for us to consume and to keep us buying.
But at what cost? When was the last time you considered the working conditions of a labourer when shopping? Or the amount of pesticides used to grow the material the clothing is made from? Probably never. Or at least not very often, right?
To further prove this point, there was a news story a few years back about factory workers sewing pleas for help into the clothing they were making. And you would never know looking at the shiny shop interiors that this was all going on behind the scenes…
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So, what exactly is fast fashion?
‘Fast fashion can be defined as cheap, trendy clothing, that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed.’ – Taken from goodonyou.eco
This seems like great news for the consumer who gets cheap clothing, and new designs every few weeks influenced by big shot designers. But it also means that we are influencing the supply and demand of the fashion brands and playing into the hands of the large corporations.
In short – the more we buy, the more they make.
What damage is it doing to our planet?
According to WRAP the UK sends around 350,000 tonnes of clothing to landfill, that’s £140 million pounds worth! Buying so many clothes as such a cheap price often means the manufacturers have cut corners in their production and the clothes are of a lesser quality, are worn out after a few wears and are sent to landfill. We have changed our mindset to see fashion as cheap and disposable, which is not how it should be. This is not a sustainable system and soon we will have nowhere to send our worn-out clothing as landfill space is not infinite.
On top of that, our choice of clothing material has a huge impact. The cotton industry alone is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions worldwide, uses 5% of all pesticides and 14% of insecticides sold globally. One of the worst offenders for environmental impact is polyester. I don’t know about you but when I go shopping and check labels, the majority of the items I pick up are made from polyester. Polyester is a synthetic, man-made fabric consisting of petroleum based fibres – meaning it’s created from non-renewable sources. It’s created from PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) which essentially means that the fabric is plastic. So if you find yourself feeling a bit sweatier than usual when wearing your favourite polyester top, it’s because you are essentially wearing plastic. Doesn’t sound so pleasant when you put it like that!
Synthetic textiles, including polyester items, are the biggest polluter of microplastics in our oceans. This is because every single time you wash a product containing these synthetic fibres, up to 2000 fibres are washed off and into our water systems. This could be your gym wear, your work blouse or even your microfibre beach towel. The scale of plastic pollution is getting out of control, and most people don’t realise they are contributing to microplastic pollution just by putting on a load of washing.
How can I help?
Slow fashion brands are currently trying to turn the market on its head and make the public realise that the only way we can make a change is to stop buying fast fashion and invest in better quality, properly designed pieces by brands who have endlessly researched into the impact of their clothing and the welfare of the workers. By supporting slow fashion brands, we are showing our loyalty towards brands that care about our planet and our future on this Earth. We’re showing our love for the creativity that these brands bring us that you just don’t get in the fast fashion world, and you get the chance to support a unique business run by normal people who are just trying to make a difference, without lining the pockets of the big corporations. We can begin to make a difference and bring an end to the culture that has been created by fast fashion by being more mindful when we purchase an item of clothing.
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