Whether it’s to mimic a favourite celeb or to keep on top of the latest trends, Britons love to get their fashion fix.
To achieve the ‘fresh off the catwalk’ look, many UK shoppers turn to fast fashion. With a super quick turnaround time and a low price tag, it’s clear to see why so many of us are attracted to fast fashion collections. Major fast fashion retailers include Zara, H & M and Boohoo. To put the speed and volume of fast fashion into context, each week, Boohoo debuts around 700 new styles, equivalent to two Anthropologie stores’ worth of merchandise (Racked).
The Dark Side Of Fast Fashion
While fast fashion undoubtedly has its benefits, keeping fashionistas throughout the UK on-trend without breaking the bank, it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows.
Consumers see fast fashion as highly disposable. By its very nature, fast fashion is designed to be replaced quickly: what’s ‘in’ one day is ‘out’ the next. What happens when these clothes are no longer trending? We throw them away. In 2017 alone, Brits sent around 235m items of unwanted clothing to landfill, a proportion of which had been worn just once (The Express).
Fashion is the 5th most polluting industry in the world, responsible for emitting 1,715 million tons of CO2, consuming 79 billion cubic metres of water and creating 92 million tons of solid waste each year (EcoCult). The environmental costs of fast fashion are particularly damaging, turning rivers vibrant shades of blue, contributing to the increasing levels of plastic in the ocean and encouraging the emergence of ‘superweeds’.
According to charity, Wrap, ‘the annual footprint of a household’s newly bought clothing, along with the washing and cleaning of its clothes, is estimated to be equivalent to the carbon emissions from driving an average modern car for 6,000 miles, water needed to fill over 1,000 bathtubs and weight of over 100 pairs of jeans’.
The fast fashion industry sources a large proportion of its clothes from impoverished countries. While this has brought thousands of jobs to people living in poverty, helping them to earn a wage, it hasn’t always been plain sailing. In 2013, the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing 1,138 people in what is considered the world’s worst garment factory disaster. This fatal tragedy occurred due to negligence of the factory workers’ working conditions. Fast-forward a few years and the situation in garment factories doesn’t appear to have changed that much, with workers still putting in ‘long hours in overheated factories without proper fire exits’ (The Guardian).
How To Be An Environmentally-Friendly Fashionista
To completely turn our backs on fast fashion is unrealistic. However, there are small changes we can make to help the planet and save some money.
Use self storage as your walk-in wardrobe
Weather in the UK is utterly unpredictable. To stay prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws at us, it’s always wise to store seasonal attire rather than bin it or leave it to fester at the back of the wardrobe. To forgo polluting the planet and overstuffing your chest of drawers, consider turning a self storage unit into your safe, secure and spacious walk-in-wardrobe. For tips and advice on the best way to prepare clothes, shoes and accessories for storage, check out Safestore’s blog.
The next time you have old or damaged clothes that aren’t suitable to be re-used, consider recycling them. Recycled clothes and textiles can often be repurposed to make padding for chairs and car seats, cleaning cloths and industrial blankets (Recycle Now).
Donate unwanted clothes to charity.
According to a poll by electronic retailer, AO.com, two thirds of us believe that donating clothes to a charity shop demonstrates kindness (Mirror). If you have some old clothes and are seeking that warm, fuzzy feeling that goes hand in hand with an act of kindness, donate to charity.
The popularity of vintage fashion is on the rise. According to the Retail Gazette, ‘the second-hand market is now more of a presence in retail than ever before’ thanks to ‘its gradual integration into the high street’ and online marketplaces such as Gumtree. Investing in second-hand fashion will not only help you to ride the increasingly popular vintage wave and save you a considerable amount of money but will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the year by 24%! (Greenpeace)
Buy pieces from sustainable collections.
To begin to reduce the impact fashion has on the environment, many fast fashion brands have launched their own sustainable lines. Zara’s ‘Join Life’ collection, for example, is made from organic cotton, recycled wool and Tencel (Huffington Post). By incorporating some ethically sourced clothing into your wardrobe, you are helping to save the planet.