You can’t call yourself environmentally friendly if you buy fast fashion
The industry creates 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions a year
Everyone has that moment before going on a night out where all of your clothes are strewn across the bed and you're shouting at your flatmate that you have "nothing to wear". Despite having plenty to wear, in desperation you buy a brand new outfit with 20 per cent student discount and next day delivery.
It happens regularly, but casually adding something to your basket once a week is a serious issue. Fast fashion exploits young people's desire for fast, cheap, fashionable clothing. With student discounts, constant sales and restocking, fast fashion brands have become a staple in our lives. What we choose to ignore however, are the environmental and ethical consequences of fast fashion.
More so than ever, people are claiming to love the environment. Everyone's going to climate protests, becoming vegan, buying reusable coffee cups and advocating the removal of single-use plastics. But continuing to spend hundreds on cheap clothes while still maintaining you're "ethical" is just hypocritical. You can't call yourself environmentally friendly if you still buy fast fashion – here's why:
You're killing the planet
Fast fashion relies on quick turnovers of styles, low prices, and rapid delivery to survive, regardless of the environmental consequences. The industry creates 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions a year from harvesting fabric, making the clothing and shipping, which is more than shipping and aviation combined. It also contributes to 20 per cent of water pollution in the dying of fabric, chemical fertilisers, and runoff in production. Out of all these emissions created, £140 million of new clothes still goes to landfill in a year.
And the companies aren't even publicising it. The 2019 Fashion Transparency Index shows that only 15 per cent of fast fashion brands publish their targets for plastic reduction and what they're doing to be more environmentally friendly. Boohoo are only 12 per cent transparent, with compared to H&M which is 71 per cent transparent. Zara, Stradivarius, Bershka and Pull&Bear are all 59 per cent transparent.
You're contributing to 'modern slavery'
Factories manufacturing fast fashion are notorious for their terrible conditions. Workers are subjected to long hours, excessive overtime and low wages.
Some manufacturing has been relocated to the UK to decrease shipping times, but in some factories the conditions have been called "modern slavery." There can be no union, and workers can even be fired for the clothes not selling. Brands pay suppliers a third of the retail price, so for every £6 dress, the supplier is only getting £2, and the workers themselves even less. Not only this, but over one third of female manufacturers in the UK report sexual harassment every year, and are regularly beaten and abused for not hitting targets despite long hours and low pay.
We need to make more effort to be sustainable with our clothing choices
Depop, eBay and charity shops exist for a reason. You can find brand new items of clothing for a fraction of the price, and none of the guilt.
There is more that everyone can do on a daily basis. Lobby the government to regulate the environmental and workplace practises of fast fashion. Break out that sewing kit your mum gave you in first year that you've never used and repair your clothes – by extending their life by just nine months it reduces the environmental consequences by 20-30 per cent. Do some research, all the information is easy to find. ASOS even have a full section for sustainable products with over 750 products, so if you must buy fast fashion, do it sustainably.
You probably think you're doing your bit already, like not using Uber, being vegetarian/vegan and loving staycations, but have you thought about the clothes you wear everyday? We even know how bad these clothes are made, falling apart after one use or even your Joni jeans fading after a few washes.
It's clear that fast fashion is ruining our planet on a wide scale, and where we have been concentrating our efforts on aviation, eating less meat and taking public transport, we've been ignoring something we buy into so casually every week. So if you're that person who buys £100 worth of clothes a week, get a fucking grip. You're contributing to something corrupt and destructive and there's no excuse anymore.