The real cost of 'Fast Fashion'

Its November… and that means the festive season is just around the corner, many of you will be looking to purchase a new outfit for your Christmas party or course social, but what is the environmental cost of your new high street outfit?

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Its November… and that means the festive season is just around the corner, many of you will be looking to purchase a new outfit for your Christmas party or course social, but what is the environmental cost of your new high street outfit?

Environmental Cost of Fast Fashion

The fashion industry is the second highest for water consumption and makes up approximately 8-10% of global carbon emissions. Companies such as Zara, Shein and Primark are all top contributors to this issue, pumping out thousands of new items, usually manufactured by low paid workers and sold at super low prices.  To produce a single cotton t-shirt, it takes approximately 2,700 litres of water!

In 2017 a report found that, in 2015 alone, the fashion industry consumed 79 billion cubic meters of water — enough to fill 32 million Olympic-size swimming pools. That figure is expected to increase by 50% by 2030.

If the global population rises as expected to 8.5 billion people by 2030, it is projected that the overall clothing and apparel consumption will rise by 63%, from 62 million tons today to 102 million tons in 2030. This means that the demand for clothing with increase at an alarming rate and put an increased pressure on the earth’s resources.

Furthermore, when our unwanted clothes and textiles are discarded, much of it ends up in landfill, adding to the waste issues we face in the UK. A staggering 10,000 items of clothing are sent to landfill every five minutes, that’s the equivalent to £140 Million in value, every year.


The Social Cost of Fashion

Fashion is ever evolving and changing, many shop constantly to keep up with the trends but this can be dangerously devastating to our wallets. You may find pleasure or excitement about when you discover beautiful clothes, fast fashion can be liberating exciting, but at what cost?!

The pressure, particularly for young adults and students to fit in, wear the newest and trendiest get up and put unnecessary pressure on them which is particularly during this cost of living crisis.

The fast fashion industry also puts immense strain on the people who make our clothes, over 85% of the clothes sold in the UK are manufactured in The Global South, many factory workers are underpaid, working in poor conditions and have little to no job security. In The most at risk, are women who are the main workforce of clothing manufactures, despite being the backbone to many fast fashion and retail giants, women in such industries are subject to daily abuse and violence based on the gender.

If we take a step back even further to those who produce the textiles to make our clothing, the inequalities and issues that manifest from fast fashion can be felt. The cotton trade which consists of a complex supply chain has forced the price of cotton down, with the price of production going up and up, cotton farmers are actually making a loss, more so farmers are at the bottom of the chain, meaning they don’t have the power to negotiate with consumers or the traders.

How can you help?

With the rising cost of living, purchasing a new outfit from the highstreets might not be on cards but there’s still ways to slay…

When your next on the market for a new outfit, think sustainably- browse the charity shops rather than hit the high street, check out clothing swaps or vintage markets to find your new threads, many items donated to charity are often new, with tags. You can pick up some great finds at a fraction of the cost and give a new life to an item of clothing.

Join one of our many swap shops- donate your unwanted items and take home a new wardrobe, absolutely free- if you find an item that is in need of some TLC, then you can bring it along to our mending sessions, where you can learn to visibly mend your items.

There are tons of preloved or second hand sites to browse, from the likes of Vinted & Depop where you can buy and sell your preloved  items, or give good old Ebay a go!

Second-hand isn’t for everyone so if choose to purchase new item of clothing- think sustainably, develop a core concept wardrobe that you can mix and match through the season, or shop from a sustainable source. Many organisations and fashion brands are adopting more sustainable practices and have launched ‘sustainable or organic cotton’ collections, you should look out for garments carrying the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) logo, these products have not only been grown organically, it’s also been manufactured in a socially and environmentally responsible way too.

Here’s some useful resources to start Good on You, highlights some of the crème de la crème of sustainable fashion options and before you buy, you can check out how your favourite brand scores!

The Pretty Planteer has ranked the top 11 UK brands paving the way for sustainability!

Navigating the world of sustainable fashion isn’t easy and we’re not asking you to change the world single handed, but small actions start revolutions.

Join the revolution against fast fashion now!

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