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How to Consume Responsibly in a Fast-Fashion World


Over the last few decades, we've seen a massive incline in the number of fast-fashion companies. This rise has led to devastating consequences environmentally and socially, as it can lead to the exploitation of workers, increase of C02 emissions, and overproduction. Social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram have been massive contributors to this, as fast fashion brands such as PLT, Boohoo, and H&M work with the influencers on these platforms and encourage the overconsumption of their products through advertising. The United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are the blueprint for helping us achieve sustainability within society. In particular, the 12th SDG goal relating to sustainable consumption and production patterns aid in combatting the overconsumption and overproduction of clothing.

What is Fast-Fashion?

Fast-Fashion is low-priced clothing that takes inspiration from stylish catwalks or celebrity culture and moves quickly from design to retail stores to meet trends. The concept puts further emphasis on the stigma that it's never okay to repeat an outfit. As clothes are often only worn 7 times before being discarded.

The success of the Fast-Fashion industry is, arguably, due to the advertising of on-trend, cheap clothing made from synthetic fibres such as polyester, which is derived from petroleum, a non-renewable fossil fuel. The use of these synthetic materials has changed the fashion industry into purely prioritising profits and consumption with complete disregard for the environment and human health. This rings true as the Fashion Transparency Index 2022 indicates that only 34% of brands disclose their actual carbon footprint as raw material.

Changing Consumer Behaviour

Seasons have always been an indicator of what's in fashion and what's not. However, the rise of social media and e-commerce has shifted the way we view what's in and out of season. Industrialisation means that retailers can sell any item as long as they have a warehouse to hold and process the stock in. This now means consumers expect to find any products they want whenever without worrying if it's in season.

How to Save and Consume Responsibly

Regardless of fast-fashion consumption being the new way to shop there are ways to be more sustainably conscious when purchasing new clothing items.

  1. Shopping secondhand- I can imagine the scrunching on your faces reading this suggestion but hear me out. As a student, it can be difficult to find the funds to buy brand-new items of clothing and steer away from these fast fashion companies. Online second-hand shops such as Depop or Vinted is cost saving for you as there are items that are as good as new going for a fraction of the price.

  2. Be a conscious consumer- this entails changing your mindset and making purchasing decisions that have a positive, economic, social, and environmental impact. An example of this is through the 30 wears challenge which encourages you to only buy an item if you'll wear it a minimum of 30 times.


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