Fast fashion is the idea of take, make and dispose. The dictionary definition is inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. We all know fast food is bad for us, so why are we not all so aware of the dangers of fast fashion?
Few people who promote sustainability are arguing that we should all stop buying new clothes. In the same vein that fast food is a saviour on a shitty day (if you don’t agree with me then you’ve never been hungover in a Maccies car park regretting every decision you’ve ever made) the majority of people will also agree with me that an impulse buy can also be a saviour in a similar manner.
Nevertheless we cannot ignore the facts anymore. Fashion is a $1.3 trillion industry but it comes with a hefty environmental price tag. In the first stages of a garments life, chemical waste including dyes and pesticides are being directed into rivers and the sea, devastating the ecosystems. Moreover, the Economist have suggested that the Carbon emissions produced by the fashion industry are on course to create a quarter of projected global carbon emissions by 2050. This environmental impact is not only felt at the start of an items life but also at the end. Meanwhile, the Sun estimates that every year an average of 400,000 tonnes of clothes are either buried in landfill where they take millions of years to erode or burned in incinerators producing dangerous chemicals.
In a recent sustainability Inquiry, Boohoo and Misguided were found to be amongst the worst offenders producing clothing unsustainably, while ASOS, Burberry, Marks and Spencer, Tesco and Primark were praised for their sustainability actions. These actions include the use of recycled materials in their garments, limiting the discharge of hazardous chemicals and the re-use or recycling of unused stock.
The positive news is that steps are being made to tackle this issue. Social media on the one hand can be seen as a major contributor to fast fashion, allowing influencers and brands to sell cheap and in demand products. However, social media is also helping the sustainability cause raising awareness for people’s environmental impact, as well as putting pressure on major brands to make changes. The expert advice is simply to be more conscious about what we’re buying.
Look into spending more money on good quality clothes that you will wear multiple times, look into buying recycled or vintage clothing, consider charity shops and even buy off your friends. All in all, with us all making a small change it is possible to reduce our footprint.