Making a difference with what you wear
The choice you make when deciding what clothes to buy can have a negative impact on the environment.
“Fast fashion” is a term used to describe a trend in the fashion industry where clothing is designed and produced quickly, often in response to the latest trends and styles. This type of production has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many retailers offering new collections every few weeks or even days.
While fast fashion may seem like a great way to stay on-trend and update your wardrobe regularly, it comes with a significant environmental cost. The fast fashion industry is notorious for its negative impact on the environment, from the production of textiles to the disposal of clothing waste.
In this blog, we'll explore the impact of fast fashion on the environment, as well as what you can do to make more sustainable choices when it comes to your clothing.
The Environmental Impact of Fast Fashion
One of the most significant environmental impacts of fast fashion is the sheer amount of clothing waste it produces. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 11.3 million tons of textiles were generated in the United States in 2018, with only 2.9 million tons being recycled or reused. This means that the vast majority of clothing is ending up in landfills, where it can take years to decompose and releases greenhouse gases in the process.
Another major environmental impact of fast fashion is the production of textiles themselves. The production of fabrics like cotton and polyester requires vast amounts of water and energy, and often involves the use of harmful chemicals. According to the World Wildlife Fund, it takes an estimated 2,700 litres of water to produce a single cotton t-shirt – that's enough water to meet the average person's drinking needs for two and a half years!
The production of textiles also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, with the fashion industry responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.
Finally, fast fashion also has a significant impact on the people who work in the industry. Many workers in the fashion industry are paid low wages and work long hours in poor conditions. This is particularly true for workers in countries where labour laws are lax, and there is little protection for workers' rights.
Making Sustainable Choices
So what can you do to make more sustainable choices when it comes to your clothing? Here are some tips:
One of the best ways to reduce your impact on the environment is to buy secondhand clothing. Not only does this help reduce the amount of clothing waste going to landfills, but it also saves energy and resources that would otherwise be used to produce new clothing. You can find secondhand clothing in charity shops, and online marketplaces like eBay and Vinted
Choose Sustainable Fabrics
When you do need to buy new clothing, choose items made from sustainable fabrics. These include organic cotton, bamboo, and Tencel, among others. These fabrics are often produced using fewer resources and with less impact on the environment than conventional fabrics like cotton and polyester.
Invest in High-Quality Clothing
Another way to reduce your impact on the environment is to invest in high-quality clothing that will last longer. Fast fashion items are often designed to be worn only a few times before falling apart, while high quality clothing is made to last. This not only saves resources and energy but also saves you money in the long run.
Avoid Trendy Items
Finally, try to avoid buying trendy items that you'll only wear a few times. Instead, focus on building a versatile wardrobe with classic, timeless pieces that you can wear for years to come. This will help reduce the demand for fast fashion and reduce the amount of clothing waste you generate.
So, while fast fashion is a major contributor to environmental problems like climate change, textile waste, and pollution, the good news is that there are steps you can take to make more sustainable choices when it comes to your clothing.
By shopping secondhand, choosing sustainable fabrics, investing in high quality clothing, and avoiding trendy items, you can reduce your impact on the environment, and help workers achieve a reasonable standard of living.
Making these changes may require some effort and a change in habits, but it is a small price to pay for a more sustainable future.
So next time you're shopping for clothing, think about the impact your choices are having on the environment and how you can help – research the brand and the garment's credentials and then make the right choice. Together, we can work towards a more sustainable fashion industry and a healthier planet.