As the shops start to open again, I wanted to look into the impact of fast fashion.
We always want more and consumerism is at its worst. People are also wanting everything for less. But at what cost? What is that cost to the people who made it? What is the cost to the impact on our planet? Its time we started facing up to the realisation of how damaging the fashion industry can be.
Fast fashion is a term used to describe cheap and trendy clothing that very quickly come in and out of style. These well-known fashion brands change their style so frequently so that we feel the need to ditch the old and bring in the new to stay "trendy". But this also creates single-use items that are cheap meaning there easy to throw away, adding to landfill.
According to a fast fashion report, an analysis published by the UK parliament in 2019, these retailers are "encouraging overconsumption & generating excessive waste".
The biggest retailers can chase the cheapest pay, using sweatshops to line their pockets where manual workers are employed for very low wages and for long hours under poor conditions. They work 14-16 hour days earning below their living wage. In Bangladesh, workers will earn $33 a month, with a living wage of $66 a month.
They also work in dangerous conditions and since 1990, over 400 factory workers have died or been injured in over 50 major factory fires.
Sexual harassment and discrimination in women are also widespread and they have no access to maternity leave.
Forced labour is also used to pick cotton in two of the worlds biggest producing cotton countries and surprisingly, labour exploitation is also taking part in the UK.
ASOS, Boohoo, also the owner of pretty little thing, Nasty Gal and misguided have "re-shored" substantial amounts of their production process to Leicester so that they can have quicker turnarounds and react quickly to consumer tastes.
It has since been discovered that these workers in Leicester are been paid as little as £3.50 per hour.
Textile productions contribute more to climate change than the aviation and shipping combine and in the UK and it's estimated that 5% of global emission's come from there fashion industry.
Polyester is the most common fabric for clothing, and polyester and synthetic materials create higher emissions in production as they are produced from fossil fuels such as crude oil.
In the UK, we buy more clothes than in any other country in Europe. And around 300,000 tonnes of textile waste ends up in household bins every year which is then incinerated or sent to landfill. Three in five items of clothing will be in landfill within a year of purchase.
Less than 1% of clothing is recycled and these discarded clothes are filling up landfills and the fibre fragments are flowing into the sea when the clothes are washed.
We need to start changing our habits as consumers to stop fashion brands behaving in this way. The government also needs to change the law to require companies to step up and perform due diligence checks across the globe.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Switch to slow fashion, with higher quality garments that cost more and will last longer.
Choose second-hand clothes. Repair, reuse and recycle or repurpose.
I also recommend watching the Netflix documentary on minimalism. Living with less is actually very freeing to the mind.
Download the app, "Good on you" this app gives fashion brands a sustainable and ethical rating, so you can make sure you're buying well and supporting brands with a good impact.