Fast Fashion and The Environment

In the name of reducing our ecological impact, changes are being made. More people are making the switch to buying second-hand or vintage. Also, brands are introducing more recycled clothing to their lines among other sustainable practices. While these are all fantastic first steps, let’s talk about why these changes are being made and, why fast fashion is so bad for our planet.

The appeal of fast fashion is completely understandable. It provides a cheap avenue into keeping up with ever-changing trends. As well as preventing shopping sprees from breaking the bank. However, the environmental impact as a result of fast fashion makes the affordable prices simply not worth it.

Here are some examples of the ways the industry affects the planet:

1. Fast fashion clothing is usually created to align with fleeting trends. People don’t end up keeping them for very long, and end up discarding them. Most cheaply produced clothing is made with inexpensive synthetic materials. It can spend years in landfills, meaning that 85% of textiles are thrown out every year.

2. The fast fashion industry contributes to 10% of all annual carbon emissions, which is more than what aeroplanes and maritime shipping contribute combined.

3. When clothes are made with synthetic, plastic materials are washed, releasing micro-plastics into the ocean. As of 2020, 51 trillion microplastics litter the ocean, and are ingested by sea life and humans alike.

It is up to the fashion industry to stop their harmful practices and halt their impact on the environment. However, making huge changes to such a large business would take years. So, in the meantime, there are three little things that you can do to reduce your own contributions to environmental damage by changing up how you consume fashion. And little things help the most when lots of people try to do them!

Three Changes You Can Make to Help!

Firstly, stop shopping at unsustainable places like Primark, New Look, Topshop completely. Instead, buy from charity shops, kilo sales, second-hand apps like Depop, and vintage stores. They often have much more unique clothing than what you can find in mainstream shops, and are likely to last longer if the materials are truly vintage! For example, vintage jeans are often made with pure cotton, and therefore will stretch less and last you for years! Just make sure to check the label to see if the item is 100% cotton.

Secondly, buy timeless clothes you know you will wear and love for years to come, and thus, won’t throw away and contribute to landfills. While leopard print will come and go, a classic, simple top and good quality jeans will be there for you forever! If you do grow tired of some of your clothes, consider donating them to a charity shop or to family and friends instead of simply throwing them away.

Finally, to reduce your contribution to microplastics in the ocean, wash your clothes less often, and when you do, use a filter or a low-water cycle. This will reduce the amount of microplastics released during your wash.

We can have so much positive impact on the world through making these little changes. Don’t underestimate these changes, because if we continue to make them then it is far more likely that we can begin to reverse the ways in which fast fashion and all unsustainable practices have affected our planet.

About the author

Jessica Wilkinson

Jess is a undergraduate student studying English at the University of York. She has a passion for Vintage style, Sustainable Fashion and loves to write. 


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