Is Fast Fashion Destroying our Planet

Helen Chambers, Director Eco Communities

This week I have been re-reading the book Fashionopolis by Dana Thomas and it has reminded me about what a mountain we still need to climb in terms of solving fast fashion.

There are many astonishing stats in this book (and I would highly recommend reading it) but one that I wanted to share was that 1 in 6 people on Earth work in fashion. Yet 98% of them do not earn a living wage! When the author of another book I’ve been reading recently The Day the World Stops Shopping asked the CEO of a large fast fashion factory in Bangladesh what price increase would be needed per garment to make a difference to this, his answer was 2 cents! That would give him the ability to pass onto his workers an 8% raise and improve their working conditions. The crazy thing is we would all as consumers pay it, so why isn’t it happening?

In my twenties I was oblivious to the fact that 10% of greenhouse gas emissions come from clothing and footwear, I had no idea that my addiction to always having a new outfit for every outing was damaging the planet so much.

How things have changed. I find it a lot easier now to avoid fast fashion for a number of reasons; I now know the damage to the planet, I’m older so don’t get invited to as many places (unless it’s a kids birthday party), I have more disposable income so when I feel I need something I can buy better quality with sustainable materials (BAM is my favourite). It also helps that we have been living in our homes for the last 2 years so not had much need for new clothes! But I know for many it is part of their identity and it can be harder to make the move away from fast fashion.

For those who don’t know I work for a company called Giki who help individuals to live more sustainably. I thought I’d share some of their top tips on how to reduce our consumption:

  1. The most sustainable clothes are those in your wardrobe. Ask yourself do I really need it? Could I borrow it or get it second hand?
  2. Will I wear it more than 30 times? And will it last that long if I wanted to?
  3. Can I afford to buy better quality made sustainably?
  4. If you think you are ready for a challenge why not try to buy nothing new for 3 months
  5. With the average item now only being worn 7 times before it is thrown out why not try a clothes swap? Just footprints in Chester Forum are hosting a clothes swapping event on Saturday 19th March. I’ll hopefully see you there! (see details below)
  6. Read more from the experts on fast fashion like Fashion Declares and research organisation Ethical Consumer (see below)

Fashions Declares is asking for an urgent shift in behaviour to cut carbon emissions and avert the climate, ecological and social crisis we face. The founding signatories are key enterpeneurs in the fashion industry, including Safia Minney who founded, People Tree.

‘Fashion has the power to shape culture and behaviour beyond the industry itself. As a bottom-up movement, Fashion Declares will create a network of individuals from right across the sector.

Ethical Consumer look at 28 brands run by dedicated individuals with a passion for clothing and the planet – read its article ‘Who’s who of ethical fashion brands’

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