How Fast Fashion Is Harming The Planet
And what you can do about it
The next time you buy a dress or a pair of jeans from any online clothes-giant retailer, consider what you are actually saving. Because buying into the “fast fashion” industry means you are not saving the planet. In actual fact, buying cheap clothes leaves you out of pocket as well.
Fashion is a complex chain of productivity and supply. Raw materials have to be cultivated and collected so textiles can be manufactured. The clothes are then sewn, shipped and sold before they end up at the back of your closet, never to be worn again. This entire process is the second largest polluter on the planet after oil, isn’t that staggering? It’s unequivocally destroying the planet. And unethical values within the fashion industry seriously contribute to deepening environmental problems at the expense of everybody else.
Growing cotton requires huge amounts of water and pesticides to prevent crop failure. In developing countries that are without an effective infrastructure, clean water is scarce and drought, disease and starvation is problematic. Fast fashion threatens water supply too. Polyester, a popular, cheaper fabric for the fashion industry sheds microbes every time you run it through the washing machine. The debris does not biodegrade and eventually winds up in waterways where it represents a serious threat to aquatic life.
In Stacey Dooley’s hard-hitting film, Fashions Dirty Secret, we see the investigative journalist turned Strictly Come Dancing star confront high-street fashion executives about their ethics. She is widely ignored. Dooley’s appeal to the UK government also falls on deaf ears.
But somebody has to start listening. And if it won’t be the greedy companies pillaging the planet for profit, or the politicians that are paid to turn a blind eye, it has to be the consumers.
It is well-documented that fashion brands exploit overseas workers, but do you realise it also exploits consumers; you are sold clothes that will not last, pay over the odds for an item of clothing and encouraged to keep buying the latest ‘must have’ piece.
What you can do
If you care about yourself, regular people and the planet, consider spending more on high-quality clothes that last longer, and in some cases, a lifetime.
Furthermore, when you don’t need to continually restock your wardrobe, you actually spend less. We recommend you aim for a capsule wardrobe which increases the high quality, investment pieces that you own and puts an end to cheaper items which will ultimately only last a few wears. See our ‘How To Build A Capsule Wardrobe’ blog here.
Our top tips slow fashion shopping:
- Think carefully before each purchase: stick to your capsule wardrobe rules and try not to deviate from your ‘style’. Ask yourself “will I wear this again and again?” – If the answer is no then keep searching until you have found the perfect investment piece.
- If you can, choose natural fibers over man-made synthetic fibers like polyester.
- Choose only high-quality items which feel good against your skin.
- Look after your clothes. Well-loved clothes can be mended and repaired. The sole on a pair of Gucci boots can be replaced after years of wear. Damage to a Burberry coat can be repaired by an experienced tailor.
- Love your clothes and they will love you back!