I’ve been planning on writing something about fast fashion for a while, because it is hugely topical and is an issue which greatly concerns me. My original idea was to focus on the high street brands which are making a difference. However, I don’t really feel comfortable promoting or condoning shopping with certain brands just because they turn down their lights in store during the day. I’ve made the decision to stop buying clothes, inspired by my dear friend Hannah, and this post explains why.
Fast fashion is a huge issue facing the world now, and one I was not aware of the impacts of until embarrassingly recently. Personally, I never gave a second thought about where my clothes were coming from or how they were made. I was just totally ignorant but now I can’t stop thinking about how our buying habits are affecting the planet.
The fashion industry is the second biggest consumer of water, producing 20% of waste water as well as generating more greenhouse gas emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
I don’t like to sound preachy or stuck up but this is not an industry which I can contribute to anymore, at least for the foreseeable future. Shopping for new clothes is one of my favourite pass times: I love searching online for clothes, seeing new trends, looking for the new items coming in every season. I can still do these things, just without purchasing.
My decision has come from the fact that there are many other options to get new clothes if/when I need them. I can buy from reliable, sustainable online clothing stores as well as Depop and charity shops for second hand options.
Most of the clothes we buy from the high street are simply not designed to last, new stock comes in weekly and we as consumers are urged to buy now before stock is gone.
“We used to have a traditional fashion calendar with two to four seasons a year,” explains Elizabeth Cline, author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. “Now we have new trends coming out every week — it’s a constant rotation of new styles.”
Everyone has been tempted by the fact you can buy full outfits in Primark and websites like Boohoo for less than £20. I’m not going to sit here like a saint and say half of my wardrobe isn’t currently from both of these stores. However, it gets to a point where we as consumers need to think about WHY these clothes are so cheap. What really is the cost of us getting £4 t-shirts?
The prime example of the cost of fast fashion is the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh 2013. This is what the fashion industry produces. Workers at these factories in third world countries suffer working in horrific conditions with very little pay to produce clothes for UK consumers. War on Want have various reports made to educate and inform people on what working in the garment industry is like.
With both the impact of fast fashion on the environment and third world country garment workers undeniable, I will be stopping buying items from fast fashion brands for a pro-longed period of time. I could sit here and say I’m never buying fast fashion from the high street again, but that’s most likely a lie. At some point, I will probably need new underwear and have to go to Primark.
At the end of the day, nobody is perfect. We can’t all be super woke, environmentalists who are completely plastic free vegans with no carbon foot print. Everyone can only do their best. I’m all for realistic goals, so my realist goals for my clothing ban is to avoid the high street and fast fashion as best as I humanly can whilst aiming to not buy ANY clothes for a solid few months.
For anyone looking for more information, here are the articles I’ve used to inform myself on the issues I’ve discussed: