What is fast fashion? Well, fast fashion is a term used by fashion retailers to express that designs move from catwalk quickly to capture current fashion trends. Fast fashion has (rightly!) come under criticism for being responsible for having a huge environmental cost in terms of energy, water, land and chemicals used.
However, environmental problems lie in the consumer phase too. As a result of poor quality and fleeting trends, a lot of clothes are only worn a few times before we throw them into landfill, contributing further to environmental problems.
Whilst responsibility predominantly lies with these huge fast fashion corporations, one of the best things we can do as consumers is become more knowledgeable about these issues and use this information to make a difference. So here are three top reasons why the fast fashion industry is the third largest environmental polluter and what you can do to change that!
1. People are throwing away 150 billion tonnes of clothing a year
The best time within the clothing lifecycle to increase longevity is at the design stage, since changes to design practices can have a significant impact on how long a garment lasts.
However, thanks to ever-changing trends and increasing disposability mentality that permeates much of the Western world, consumers are throwing away 150 billion tonnes of clothing a year. Synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, and acrylic account for a large chunk of the clothing that is currently sitting in landfills. And these materials are taking hundreds of years to decompose, which leads to a range of environmental consequences, including landfill pollution.
To encourage people to make their clothes last and take part in the circular economy, Sancho's have launched the Shwap Shop, an (almost) 24/7 clothes swapping service. Each time you want something new from the Shwap, instead of paying for it you can choose to swap it with something you already own for FREE! Sancho's are also hosting a Repair Workshop as part of this year's Fashion Revolution Week on Monday 22nd April where you can learn the skills to repair, mend and make your clothes to get the most out of your wardrobe.
2. People do not know the impact of each purchase
The majority of consumers do not know the impact of each purchase they make, whether that's clothing or otherwise. This is why educating yourself and others is the greatest thing you can do as a consumer to help combat fast fashion. Here are a few facts to get you on your journey to understanding the environmental impact your purchases can make:
1kg of cotton - equivalent to the weight of a shirt and pair of jeans - can take as much as 10,000–20,000 litres of water to produce.
The fashion industry is projected to use 35% more land for fibre production by 2030 - an extra 115 million hectares that could be left for biodiversity or used to grow crops to feed an expanding population.
Textile production produces an estimated 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) per year - more than international flights and maritime shipping combined.
To learn more about the negative impacts of fast fashion, come along to the Sustainable Future Book Club Launch on Wednesday 24th April and A talk on ‘The ABC’s of Ethical Fashion and Responsible Consumption’ on Thursday 25th April. Share these events with your family and friends to encourage the education of others too!
3. People do not have the confidence to build a sustainable capsule wardrobe
The easy and seemingly cheaper buying options are not only guaranteed to have a negative impact on the environment, but it is also likely to cost you more in the long run.
Instead, buy better and buy with a purpose, choosing to build a sustainable capsule wardrobe. By purchasing well made sustainable garments that are diverse, timeless and durable, clothing waste can be reduced. It also has the bonus benefit of saving you energy and time in the mornings because you'll have an already curated selection of outfits to choose from.