It’s pretty hard not to have heard about how unsustainable fast fashion is, and all the damage it creates. The fashion industry contributes 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and that’s just one facet of its environmental harm. After a devastating production process, lots of us don’t seem to even appreciate our items: in the UK alone, we dump 350,000 tonnes of clothing into landfill every year, a weight equivalent to that of the entire Empire State Building. It’s not just the alarming environmental impact, ethical issues are also a matter of concern. The fashion industry is the largest employer of women globally, but less than 2% of employees earn a living wage, and unsafe working conditions are a common story. Whether we focus on its environmental impact, or the ethical toll it takes, affecting the lives of millions, it is pretty clear to see that smarter fashion choices are appropriate.
Naturally, we all want to do our best to alleviate these issues, and feel good about our purchases, but adopting the right approach doesn’t always feel so simple. Here are our suggestions:
This consume-less approach means fewer items are purchased in the first place, and fewer end up in landfill. Ask yourself the following questions: Do I really need this item? Is there something similar at home? Do I see myself wearing it often? Is it my favourite celebrity that likes this, or me?
With their not-so-cheap price tags, purchasing from sustainable fashion brands might seem unachievable with your budget, but remember: fast fashion is built to fall apart; sustainable fashion is an investment, designed to last. Buying from sustainable companies (such as those involved in the Better Cotton Initiative, or Certified B Corporations) are a great way to ensure you limit your environmental footprint.
Mending old clothes is not only an eco-friendly choice, but also a chance to be creative and put your textiles skills to the test.
Your friends are a good resource – why not have fun borrowing from each other?
Perhaps consider your local charity shops. You can find some bargains, whilst doing your bit to help charities in need. If charity shops aren’t your thing, clothes exchanges such as ReLove Our Stuff, at school, are an enjoyable and sustainable alternative to fast fashion too.
By Lizzie Year 13, Buckinghamshire Network
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