Anyone with any interest in environmental concerns realises that ‘fast fashion’ is massively harmful to the planet.
With its emphasis on speed of production, to get the latest trends into the shops as fast as possible, cheap material and often exploitative labour, it is a huge consumer of precious resources to start with. Big brands commonly over manufacture to the extent of 35 – 40%, in full knowledge that this amount will not be sold. A very significant amount of the clothing will therefore end up in landfill, either in this country or after being shipped abroad from donation to another country.
What can we do to avoid this unethical process? Apart from the obvious one, of not engaging in the purchase of fast fashion, there is much a consumer can do.
1) Wear the clothes you already own – the most environmentally sound option
2) Ensure anything you discard is recycled properly. Garments in good condition can be donated to charity shops for resale, but don’t give them anything in a poor state.
3) Swap clothes with friends, or organise a clothes swap event in your area
4) Consider renting garments rather than buying them – especially for special occasion wear
5) Search out ethical brands – in the age of the internet this is increasingly easy to do, and it’s a rapidly growing area in the fashion industry. These brands source and dispose of their materials in an ethical, green way, and take pains to ensure the life cycle of their garments are as eco-conscious as possible
6) Buy clothes which are better quality and designed to last for longer – invest in decent clothing which you will be happy to wear for years, rather than months.
7) Ask brands if they offer a recycling scheme for old clothes once you’ve finished with them – as consumers, we should be trying to hold manufacturers accountable for what they sell so that this issue is taken seriously, and steps taken to solve the problem.
Ultimately, our clothing industry should not continue to make their waste products someone else’s problem, whether that means in this country or further afield.