One of the largest problems facing the planet right now is Fast Fashion – keeping in mind our world population is around 7.5 billion.
In 2018 in the UK, one billion tonnes of clothing was bought.
In the USA, 9.5 million kilograms of textile waste occurs each year.
We are part of a throwaway culture – we still live in an age where it is more expensive to have an item fixed at a tailor than it is to buy a new one (big thumbs up to anyone out there who is repairing their own clothes). Big clothing companies like H&M, & Zara are producing up to one million items a week. Fashion is creating 10% of the world’s carbon emissions. We also have a finite amount of resources – conventionally grown cotton is sprayed with pesticides, takes up land & a lot of water; polyester & other synthetic materials are produced with oil. Neither of which are sustainable options long-term, especially when one third of clothes are ending up in landfill.
I recently counted in my wardrobe – I own 11 dresses (5 of which i’ve had for more than 5 years), 4 pairs of high heels (admittedly I used to have around 20 pairs pre-kids) & 5 pairs of jeans. I live in activewear when not at work (being a Mum is a physical job!) – I own 5 pairs of leggings & 4 pairs of trainers. Many minimalists would say this is too much, but for me an important aspect of sustainability is not getting rid of clothes that serve a purpose for the sake of minimising my wardrobe. I regularly donate clothes that no longer spark joy (love Marie Kondo) & hand down kids clothes that are in good condition but no longer fit my tribe but I know will get use via friends or extended family.
If you’re not already using it, download the Good on You app – before making a purchase, it will give you an idea of how ethically the company works.
A few brilliant podcasts that puts the enormity of the issue in simple terms:
Britain: https://www.theguardian.com/science/audio/2019/apr/12/why-fast-fashion-should-slow-down-science-weekly-podcast a super easy listen which explains the one million tonnes of clothes purchased a year & how a third of them end in landfill.
USA: https://6cleaningredients.files.wordpress.com/2019/06/7c49e-elizabethcline_waste.mp3 – essentially discusses how we feel donations are the way we justify our purchases that we only wear a few times. Also opens the discussion about how our natural resources (land to grow cotton, oil to make polyester) are finite & that we will have to look alternatives including recycling materials. Levi’s & Patagonia are doing an awesome job of moving towards slow fashion – including repair & tailoring, along with pushing fibre recycling. Extending the life of your clothes, even for 9 months, decreases our carbon footprint substantially (this doesn’t mean buying more stuff on the side).
On the positive side, there are companies making incredible impact such as Thread Together who deliver good, new shoes & clothes to people doing it tough.