26 Apr Fast Fashion by Wee Mammy Diaries
In the week where it was revealed that the majority of our Christmas jumpers are made from over 90% plastic, made and sold so cheap we have to question whether the people making them where given a fair wage and will be stuffed into the back of the wardrobe or charity bag a matter of weeks after buying them; it is time to ask ‘Is it worth it?’
I recently watched the BBC program ‘Breaking Fashion’ in which the online clothing company In the Style opened their doors during the summer season to show the ups and downs of releasing a new, affordable, celebrity endorsed collection every two weeks.
As I watched I couldn’t help but wonder about the damage this is creating in our society and to our planet.
For anyone to think they need to update their look every two weeks is simply unsustainable. Financially, mentally and environmentally unsustainable. Yet this seems to be the new norm.
We have a generation of young people thinking they cannot be photographed in the same outfit twice, each new post on sites like Instagram must be fresh, new and different, yet how do they afford this in a time when unemployment is rising, zero hour contacts are increasing and our economy is at breaking point?
Simple. Fast fashion is cheap to make, cheap to advertise and simply just cheap.
Materials such as acrylic (plastic) are more widely used to create cheap fashion, rather than expensive natural materials such as cotton or wool. Harmful chemicals and dyes are used along with a shocking amount of natural resources including water mass produce items of clothing.
Workers are paid less than the UK minimum wage to create clothes they could never afford in countries where their rights are non existent compared to ours.
These clothes are then packaged in more plastic, shipped and flown across the world leaving a foul smell of green house gas behind them only to be worn once and thrown on a landfill.
The mental strain of keeping up and being like everyone else, or that one influencer they admire is pushing our young people into debt and a vicious cycle of unhappiness. If the turn around for fashion is two weeks by the time you buy a item, have it delivered, wear it and post about it, it’s out of fashion. The fashion industry are pushing an unrealistic dream on to our young people and it is them who are paying the price.
Well them and our environment.
The production, shipping and disposal of clothes made from materials that will out live us is one of the biggest contributors to climate change.
Prior to watching ‘Breaking Fashion’ I had watched the BBC3 documentary ‘Fashion’s Dirty Secrets’ with Stacey Dooley. What an eye opener.
It was clear the unwitting passers by she asked to participate in a quiz during the investigation were unaware of the damage fast fashion is doing to our planet and I have to say I was in the same category. Naive and unaware.
So what can be done?
It is easy to think ‘What difference can one person make against huge companies, cultures and society’s norms’; but if 66 million people (the population of the UK) were to try to make a difference, well that might work.
But like even the mightiest of rivers, it all starts with one little drop. One little action.
So what can I do? Well here are ten ideas to get you started.
1. Shop local and shop small. Not only do you eliminate the pollution caused by overseas shipping and flights but with more and more makers selling great quality, long lasting hand made items, made from sustainable materials; the environment is happy, the local economy is happy and you will be happy knowing the difference your purchase will have made. Plus always remember your granny’s advice: buy cheap buy twice.
2. Shop at second hand shops. Twice loved clothes don’t need to come with a stigma attached, it’s vintage or thrift or any other hashtag worthy word you want to use. You might not be able to stop the production of cheap, fast fashion but you can stop it ended up in a landfill. So donate and shop at pre-loved clothing shops. You will grab a bargain and you not only help the environment you also help keep another shop on the High Street be it a charity, vintage or eco shop open and the employees in a job.
3. Swap shop. Although you will find a plethora of swap shops happening around you if you look, there is nothing to stop you organising your own. It could be themed. School uniform, Christmas jumper, summer holiday or even night out. Throw in some nibbles and bubbly and you have a guilt free night out where you leave with ‘new to you’ clothes and you don’t have to spend a penny. What’s to stop you and your friend and family holding one of your own?
4. Think cost per wear. If you buy a cheap jumper for £15 and wear it once for a photo opportunity then that photo cost you £15. But if you bought a jumper at that price you were happy to wear more than once, say 3 times then that jumper cost £5 per wear. So although buying clothing that is made from sustainable materials, where the entire production team is paid a full, fair wage may cost a little bit more; investing in something you will wear more than once is more financially sound than buying something new every two weeks.
5. Organise your wardrobe into seasons. Take all your summer clothes and bag them up, vacuum bags are ideal for this, then store them away till spring next year. As you unpack them you will find your self coming across items you forgot you had and you will be reminded of amazing memories you made while wearing others. Doing this for each season is like gaining a whole new wardrobe each season and it doesn’t cost you a penny, or the earth.
6. Up cycle. Ok this one I’m a little sketchy on, only because I have memories of me cutting, bleaching and grating (yes, with a cheese grater) cheap jeans when I was a teenager trying to copy the latest fashion trends. But let’s face it we have all come along way since my dodgy teenage years. With classes being held across the UK, crafters popping up in every nuke and cranny you are bound to be able to find someone or may already know someone who can guide you through it. If not there’s always YouTube.
7. Recycle. No I’m not repeating myself. To up cycle you take a t-shirt you loved but now hate and make it into a t-shirt you love. To recycle is to take a t-shirt you loved but now hate and turn it into a bag or necklace or lampshade that you love. Again there’s classes, events and of course YouTube on hand to help you take something that would have ended up in a landfill and give it a new lease of life.
8. Gift your unwanted clothes away. Up until now I’ve gave tips that see you gaining something in return. This one is more about making space in your wardrobe and life while helping out a friend, co-worker or family member who maybe isn’t able to treat them selves. So that item that gained you all those likes, all those compliments and now sits unworn, sad and lonely in the wardrobe could be making someone really happy. Oh and you get that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from doing something purely for the good of someone else.
9. Hold a clothing auction. So you might have some amazing pieces, some bought but never worn pieces or some bought and worn once pieces. Taking a leaf out of Katie Price’s book, who is very open about the fact that she only wears things once – tut tut Katie, auctioning of your clothes is a great way to earn some money, save yourself from dumping clothes in a landfill and (if your a really kind hearted soul) is a great way to raise some pennies for charity. You could hold an auction at a fair, at a swap shop or even on line on sites such as eBay.
10. This is the big one. Thats why this one is last. Stop shopping. Stop feeling pressured into buying new clothes. Stop feeling like clothes define you. Stop being sucked into this consumerist world created by influencers and clothing companies. Stop. Save your money, save your time, save the planet and save your piece of mind. Just stop.
” The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” – Alice Walker