We live in a modern world, which means we pretty much have access to anything we want with a click of a button.
This endless amount of choice and convenience could not be easier, however, there is a rise in awareness of the detrimental impact this way of living has on our planet.
Our last post highlighted 5 of our greatest tips for reducing your fast-fashion footprint on a budget but throughout this article we want to delve a little deeper into what fast-fashion is and
Why does fast-fashion matter?
“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” — Anna Lappé
Fast fashion takes a short-term view to the things we consume. It assumes that because everything is so accessible, it is also very disposable.
We can therefore buy a whole new wardrobe for every season and a new outfit for every occasion and then throw them away, right?
But this way of living comes at huge costs to the environment and human lives. This article highlights some of these costs and the key reasons you should avoid fast-fashion:
Fast fashion accounts for 8% of global CO2 emissions, making it one of the world’s largest polluters, second only to the oil industry.
Not only does Fast Fashion create harmful environmental effects through the use of fabrics, it also is destroying the environment through the use of dyes.
In China, where many garment factories are located, more than a whopping 80% of groundwater in China is now unfit for human consumption. This is predominantly due to chemicals from production processes and dyes being dumped into rivers and filtering through soil.
A study by Greenpeace found that 20 of the world’s favourite brands are making and selling clothes containing hazardous chemicals which contribute to toxic water pollution where the clothes are made and washed.
By 2025, it is estimated that two-thirds of the world’s population will face water stresses like this or scarcity by 2025. By ensuring that as little water as possible becomes polluted, we can help to create a more sustainable water supply for future generations.
If the stark warnings of David and Greta haven’t highlighted enough, a climate catastrophe is looming over us.
Buying ethically and consciously is now more important than ever.
Avoiding fast-fashion and buying ethically means that from the production of the fabric fibres to the final product, your clothes emit less emissions than the traditional pesticide filled fabrics used in fast fashion.
In shopping ethically and avoiding fast-fashion, you are not only helping the environment but also the factory workers, who are often put at great risk.
In 2013, the Rana Plazafactory in Bangladesh collapse killed 1,138 people, the majority of whom were garment workers.
This disaster brought to light the little respect fast fashion workers get, and seven years later, it’s clear that not much seems to have changed. Due to recent findings, an online fashion giant is facing a modern slavery investigation after findings that workers in Leicester are being paid as little as £3.50 an hour.
Aside from the poor working conditions and vicious cycle of poverty many fast-fashion companies uphold, the chemicals used in the production of garments have been linked to miscarriages in women, birth defects, and cancer.
It’s easy to turn a blind eye to the impacts of this fast-fashion industry and see the impacts they have beyond the computer screen. However, by avoiding fast-fashion you can work against the supply-chains that continuously fail to provide adequate living wages and safe work conditions.
Supporting ethical production systems and slow-fashion avoids the use of harmful pesticides or dyes, meaning that less chemicals end up in the waterways and both wildlife and communities will face a better quality of life.
More than half of the world’s population now have access to the internet. If you’re reading this, then you are within that percentage. This also means you have a seemingly infinite amount of online shopping options.
Online ‘shopping hauls’, endless sales and seasonal trends have become the norm and we’ve created a culture of over-consumption and disposable nature.
Fast fashion companies design clothes that fall apart or go out of fashion quickly.
This keeps you feeling like you need to keep buying clothes to keep up and it becomes a vicious cycle of constantly ‘needing’ that new top. Greenpeace estimates that 20% of clothes in our wardrobes aren’t even worn once!
This creates huge amounts of landfill waste. According to Google, the fashion industry accounts for 20% of wastewater and 10% of carbon emissions globally! A further report has also shown that the amount of waste created by clothes reaching the oceans every year is the equivalent of more than 50 billion plastic bottles.
By avoiding fast-fashion you can help to reduce the waste going into our landfills which can take over 200 years to decompose.
Ethical fashion is beneficial to our world and the people that live in it.
Here at Swopz Bristol our mission is to reduce waste and fast-fashion in local communities by providing a free online secondhand swapping service, as well as running in-person swap events.
SUPPORTING YOUR INDEPENDENTS
I think everyone is a little guilty of the endless days of online shopping and browsing during the recent pandemic.
Due to shops being closed and having already made your 20th banana bread that week I think the idea of a little delivery to just get you through the week was an acceptable form of survival during those early lockdown weeks.
This article is not denying the use of the internet and online shopping. The internet is amazing! The click of a button and you can have your dream jacket delivered to your door without moving? Yes please!
However are you consciously aware of WHO you are buying from?
Now that you know the impacts of buying from fast-fashion brands, it’s time to start looking for better alternatives.
The best way to do this is to shop at local independent stores so that you can support your community whilst making better choices.
Most of these have online options too so you can still enjoy shopping from the comfort of your home.
There’s some great sources of information on the internet to help you find great local independent shops in your area. If you’re local to Bristol, the Visit Bristol website is great for information on great shops in all areas to help you live more sustainably.
MOVING FROM FAST TO SLOW
The idea of ‘slow-fashion can sometimes seem over complicated, when it’s actually really simple
- Slow-fashion takes a long term view instead of the fast-fashion short-term view.
- Slow-fashion is conscious and mindful.
- Slow-fashion is environmentally as well as economically friendly.
- Slow-fashion is about quality rather than quantity.
- Slow-fashion is ethical and looks at how the things we buy are connected to the people that produce them as well as the materials that they are made from and the environmental impact this process has.
“Slow fashion is also about returning to a personal relationship with fashion. One where trends and seasons don’t matter, but where your ethics and aesthetics seamlessly unite, and you can escape the stress of constant consumption, focusing on the style that truly appeals to you.” — Emilia Wik, Head Designer at BYEM.
Though this article may all seem overwhelming at times there are lots of ways you can get the things you want or need by avoiding fast fashion completely.
Here are some ways to get started
1. Shop and buy less
Try to actively buy less each time you shop and shop less frequently.
2. When you do shop and buy
Do your research. Avoid fast-fashion brands and greenwashing (brands that say they are slow/ethical/sustainable in their marketing but aren’t actually).
Buy higher quality that will last longer and seasonless rather than seasonal styling.
3. Once you own something.
Love the things you own!
For more ideas surrounding starting your slow-fashion journey check out our article on our best 5 ways to reduce your fast-fashion footprint on a budget.
Here at Swopz, we aim to empower & uplift our local community by enabling & expanding existing swapping & secondhand initiatives.
Join our site now to start swapping within your local community today!
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