Fast fashion/ Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Why I’m giving up fast fashion in 2020

I’ve decided to take up a different type of New Years’ resolution – rather than promising myself I’m going to get slimmer, or do more work for my degree (which realistically is never going to happen), I’ve decided to change the way I shop. The world around us is becoming increasingly environmentally conscious, and so I’m sure many of us are already trying our best to work towards a more sustainable lifestyle – whether we’re changing our diet, or ensuring to use more eco-friendly products in our day to day lives.

If anyone knows me, they’ll know that I love shopping – my wardrobe is overflowing with clothes. More often than not, I’m online shopping to find new things to buy. I’m one of those people who seems to think it’s important to have a brand-new outfit for every occasion. It was only recently that I came across a few articles outlining the environmental impacts of the fashion industry that made me realise just how much of a negative impact my fashion choices were having.

The facts are shocking. The Fashion Industry contributes to 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions. That’s more than flights and maritime shipping combined. 20% of global water waste is produced through production by the fashion industry. And each consumer throws away 70 pounds of clothes and shoes on average per year.

The industry is also known for exploiting its workers by paying them extremely low wages

Of course, these are just a small selection of facts which reveal the negative impact that the fashion industry has on the environment. It can be easy to dismiss or ignore these issues when ‘fast fashion’ makes cheap clothing so easily accessible for consumers. For example, I have been able to order extremely cheap garments online and have them delivered to my door within less than 24 hours.

Fast fashion does not only have a negative impact upon the environment – the industry is also known for exploiting its workers by paying them extremely low wages. In 2019, Business of Fashion released an article making note of the fact that ‘millions of people (mostly women) who make our clothes still don’t earn enough to live off’. Many major fashion brands exploit their workers and this is one of the key reasons consumers have access to such a vast amount of cheap clothing.

As a student, it often works out far cheaper to buy second-hand pieces, and the quality is just as good

This is not to say I’m going to completely give up on ever buying any new clothes, but I’m certainly going to look into alternative means of shopping. Straightforward shopping is becoming a thing of the past – swap shops, resellers and capsule wardrobes are becoming increasingly popular for consumers and are a great way to recycle pre-existing clothes. As a student, it often works out far cheaper to buy second-hand pieces, and the quality is just as good a lot of the time. Websites such as Depop are a prime example of sustainable fashion in action, allowing people to buy and sell clothes and shoes with very low administrative fees, and sites such as Vestaire Collective offer high end items for re-sale if that’s something you’re interested in.

More and more celebrities are beginning to endorse the idea of re-wearing previous outfits to different events. For example, Tiffany Haddish has promised to wear her $4000 Alexander McQueen dress multiple times. Hopefully, celebrity influence will do a great deal of good in this instance to remove the stigma around recycling our outfits, and the general public should follow suit.

It is of course important that changes are made to the fashion industry to reduce the drastically harmful impacts it is having upon the environment. However, a ‘fashion resolution’ like mine may not work for everyone – if you can’t make changes to the way you shop, there are plenty of other ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle. It is also important that we as a society push for large companies to start making more sustainable choices and paying their workers a fairer wage.

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