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Dirty Cotton

We all have Skeletons in our Closets and Dirty Fashion Secrets: If Stacey Dooley investigated yours what would she find?

“I truly believe it’s not that people don’t care, it’s just that we’re not informed”

Stacey herself confesses to knowing very little about the environmental costs of fashion before creating the documentary Fashion’s Dirty Secrets.

It was a documentary that brought the harrowing environmental and human costs of fast fashion to the forefront of our minds.


In Fashion’s Dirty Secrets, Stacey travelled around the globe to investigate the impact that the fashion industry is having on our planet. What she found highlighted how fast fashion continues to devastate wildlife and communities around the world.

In Kazakhstan, Stacey visited the former Aral Sea – once an area of water almost the size of Ireland. This is now completely dried up after cotton production started in the region in the 1960s.

“There used to be fish – tens of thousands of tonnes of fish – and now there’s a camel,” Stacey observed. This was after driving for three and a half hours across the former seabed.

The once thriving local fishing industry has been wiped out, costing tens of thousands of jobs. “It’s hard to believe that an area as big as this can be so dramatically altered to grow cotton for our clothes.”

For Richer For Poorer

Clothing production has doubled in the past 15 years to satisfy consumer demand for fast fashion. Cheap, disposable, trend-led clothing produced quickly by mass-market retailers. British consumers today purchase twice as many items as they did 10 years ago.

“Fast fashion is making us poorer and poorer and the owners of the brands richer and richer. Our global landfills are growing larger – contributing to greenhouse gas emissions on an enormous scale,” said Livia Firth.

“It’s my firm belief that nothing will ever change while fast fashion and its current business model stays as it is. That is, producing huge volumes of clothes, in incredibly fast cycles, very cheaply. We are addicted to an even crazier cycle of consumption, which is totally unsustainable in itself.

Let’s Get Active

“It’s time for us to be active citizens and active consumers. We can’t continue to demand change until we challenge the pace of thoughtless consumption. This is what the fast fashion brands have dictated to us.”

In this clip, Stacey is on the streets of Glasgow talking to shoppers. She checks out what they’ve bought and draws peoples’ attention to cotton.

Stacey puts it into clear, understandable terms. She shows one shopper how it took 10,330 litres of water just to grow the cotton to make a jacket. Twenty-four years of drinking water.

One woman gets particularly emotional about it. She knows people are struggling for drinking water and so much is used to make one single item.

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