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A few weeks ago we launched the 2022 Fast Fashion Free February campaign (FFFF) at London Schools Eco Network (LSEN).
Fast Fashion Free February started at Highgate School in 2019, with the aim of raising awareness about the damaging effects of fast fashion. Fast fashion refers to low quality, cheap, mass produced clothing, catering to the latest trends and made with little regard to the environment. Fast fashion has been deemed the fastest growing category of waste. It is estimated that 80 billion items of clothing are made per year and that more than 300,000 tonnes of this end up in the UK’s landfills. This is problematic as most mass-produced clothing is made from polyester, which is non-biodegradable. Polyester is also energy intensive to make, meaning it has a high carbon production, and is synthesised from fossil fuels hence supporting the fossil fuel industry. The majority of fast fashion is manufactured in China, where electricity still comes mostly from coal, and this means major carbon expenditure. Other environmental impacts include the release of micro-plastics, released when fast fashion is washed. The particles end up in oceans, poison the animals living there.
As well as the harm done to the environment, there are serious humanitarian
concerns surrounding this business. Companies often outsource production for
cheap labour, and research shows many of those employed in this industry are
not working in suitable conditions or receiving a living wage. Additionally, it
is suggested that the industry is one of the leading causes in the perpetuation
of child labour. This pattern of injustice continues as reports state the
developed world’s clothing waste continually washes up on the shores of the
global south, countries who have done nothing to contribute to this polluting
There are ways of escaping contribution to these problems. Companies like Rent the Runway hire out clothes preventing the frequent need to purchase new items. Brands like Patagonia promote the purchase of quality clothing so that it last without needing frequent replacing. Ways to get green about these issues are, as ever, reducing your purchasing of fast fashion; re-using, and mending old clothes; and recycling, upcycling, or donating items you no longer want to
wear. In its first year at Highgate, FFFF was marked with a swap shop, encouraging pupils to not buy new clothes, but exchange clothing they no longer wanted with friends, so they could get a new lease of life. Since then, pledges against fast fashion have been created, with people wearing a custom badge to show their support for the campaign, as well as mending and upcycling workshops, visits to charity shops, displays around school and tutor time activities.
It is so encouraging to know that FFFF has now gone nation-wide – the more people that know about the problems of fast fashion, and its alternatives, the better!
By Mia and Caitlin, LSEN students.
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