By now, the term ‘fast fashion’ is papered all over the world. But what exactly is it? In essence, fast fashion is when companies churn out new designs at a breakneck pace. This short guide to a sustainable lifestyle will show the effects of fast fashion. We’ll also explain some of the ways you can move to conscious fashion and a more sustainable lifestyle.
For some companies, there can be as little as two weeks between the creation of a garment design and it arriving on shop floors. One of the biggest fast fashion brand, for example, delivers new products twice per week. That’s to every single one of its 1,670 stores! What drives companies to create new designs at this pace is what’s known as ‘the copycat problem’. Fashion designs are not well protected under, for example, American copyright laws. A fast-fashion brand can copy catwalk designs for the masses to consume practically upon the day of their release. Due to this, the rapidly changing new ranges make old clothes look ‘unfashionable’. This has affected the mentality of a lot of people, with wearing something multiple times becoming taboo. The psychological problem has developed to such an extent that fast fashion has taken over the world. It’s time we start changing our mindset!
Environmental consequences of fast fashion
People are throwing away more clothes than ever and landfill use is on the rise. In fact, in the UK alone, 300,000 tonnes of clothing go into landfill each year. Not only is that an awful waste, costing nearly £12.5 billion, but it also has serious environmental impacts!
But why do people throw away clothes? Well, one survey has revealed that one in ten admit that as clothes are so cheap, they can simply buy new ones. Instead of giving them away, recycling them, or putting them to use, they simply put them in the bin. Considering that 72% of all clothing uses synthetic fibres which cannot biodegrade, that’s a lot of plastic going straight into the landfill sites. Clothes discarded today will exist in the ground for around 200 years before decomposing. Every time you throw something away, you may be getting rid of it from your life, but its time on this planet is far from over. The poor quality of these materials also has ecological impacts when washed. Washing synthetic fibres releases harmful micro-plastics into the ecosystem. As you can see, fast fashion has some serious repercussions.
Conscious VS fast fashion – brands and materials
That said, not all clothing bands are equally unsustainable. H&M, for one, have tried to create a conscious range and recycling initiative. However, even this brand has been accused of ‘greenwashing’. ‘Greenwashing’ is the practice of overstating your sustainable practices in order to garner additional sales. Although companies that greenwash may seem very sustainable, they’re rarely more sustainable than any ‘fast’ fashion alternative.
There is a lot at stake when it comes to fast fashion. In fact, the textiles industry produces more emissions than both international flights and shipping combined. While synthetic fibres account for a large portion of those emissions, surprisingly, so does cotton.
Although cotton is a natural plant, it requires more pesticides and insecticides than any other crop. Organic cotton is slightly better for the planet, but there are even better options out there. When looking for a more sustainable textile, take a look at hemp or linen. We’ve ever composed an article of the most environmentally-friendly textiles for you to take a look at!
What can we do about it?
First of all, it’s time to change our mindset about fashion! Long gone are the days of wearing a piece of clothing only once or twice. The toxic practice of wearing something only once needs to stop. There is nothing shameful about wearing the same piece of clothing multiple times. If you’re buying it, you should like it enough for it to become a staple piece – that’s what conscious fashion is also about. Rewear, rewear, rewear! Or, if you’re not keen on that, at least donate your clothes to charity or a friend. Doing either of those things will save your clothes from the landfill.
If a piece of clothing you really like gets damaged, it is a good idea to learn to fix it. Learning to do some basic patchwork sewing is a fantastic skill. Not only is it useful, but it’ll ensure that your clothes last even longer. This is a great place to start learning how to repair your clothes. If a piece of clothing really is on its last legs, consider donating or recycling.
When you’re looking for new clothes, always think of slow fashion. A slow fashion brand will commit to using sustainable materials that will last a long time. If you’re committing to a lifestyle of rewearing clothes, fixing them up, and second hand-shopping, the brands you buy from should also be!
What’s Bagmaya’s take on conscious fashion?
Here at Bagmaya, we match conscious fashion values and carefully consider our impact. Our bags are made from hemp, one of the most environmentally sustainable crops out there. They’re built to last and do so without hurting the environment. We’ve also compiled a list of other slow fashion brands, including some fabulous eco swimwear brands, that you’ll love!
This was our fashion entry into the ultimate guide to a sustainable lifestyle. We’ll also be covering hygiene, cleaning, and a waste-free lifestyle. Stay tuned!
In the words of Vivienne Westwood, ‘Buy less, choose well, and make it last’! So what have you learnt? Let us know in the comments down below which of these slow fashion ideals you’ll be taking on board!