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Fast Fashion and the Rapid Destruction of Our Planet

The fashion industry alone contributes to roughly 10% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, and with the rising popularity of fast fashion brands this is only going to get worse due to its energy intensive production and textile wastage.

What is fast fashion?

Fast fashion can be defined as mass-produced, cheap, low-quality clothing, with new items and lines being added constantly to keep up with the ever-changing fashion trends. The key behind the success of fast fashion brands such as Pretty Little Thing and Boohoo is that they satisfy consumer demand for the newest trends producing them and releasing them on the market as fast possible.

Why is fast fashion harmful to our planet?

Fast fashion is easily accessible and affordable for everyone, and the latest trends and designs inspired by top fashion houses explain its popularity.

Cheap materials have a huge impact on our planet. Polyester is one of the most common cheap materials used by fast fashion brands, its derived from fossil fuels and is a massive contributing factor towards global warming. Not many people may be aware of this but it is also largely responsible for ocean pollution. Polyester is a synthetic, non-biodegradable plastic material and when washed shed microfibres which pass through the wastewater filtration systems and flow into our rivers and oceans.

This is harming the animals in the ocean as fish eat this unknowingly, and it is reported that if things continue at the rate they are now, then by 2050 we will have more plastic than fish in the ocean which only proves that action needs to be taken as fast fashion is destroying our eco-systems.

Fashion waste

Low prices reflect the low quality of the materials and often means garments wear and tear a lot faster and are often worn once and thrown away.

Out of the 100 billion garments produced each year, a shocking 92 million tonnes will end up in landfill. To put this into perspective, children's fashion brand FIVE OF US created a webpage to visualise the staggering amount of waste the fashion industry produces in just a year by comparing the volume of waste to famous landmarks.

Every 16 seconds the equivalent of the height of the Eiffel Tower is thrown in landfill (324m)
The height of the Burj Khalifa is thrown in every 42 seconds (830m)
The height of Mt Everest is thrown in every seven minutes (8,849m)
In six hours, the pile would be able to reach the International Space Station (408,000m above Earth)
In nearly eight months (228 days) the pile could reach the Moon, more than 384 million metres away from Earth

These comparisons are disturbing and really highlight that something needs to be done in order to combat this and save our planet.

What can we do to help?

It can be hard when trying to consume more sustainably as many factors can make this more complicated. A general rule of thumb is to invest in your clothes as high quality means they will last longer and result in less waste. However, many of us simply can't afford to pay a higher price tag for clothes from more sustainable brands. Another issue can be that many clothing brands are guilty of ‘greenwashing’. Greenwashing is a form of marketing or advertising used to deceive and mislead consumers into persuading them that the company and its products have a positive impact on the planet, for example sustainable clothing ranges and practices when in fact it is not true. It can be hard to distinguish what brands are truly trying to make a difference.

A plus for this generation especially is a rise in platforms for people reselling unwanted or unused clothing such as Depop or Vinted or even just traditional charity shops. Buying secondhand clothing can be a low-cost way of shopping sustainably and saving the planet! Donating your own clothes to charity shops or people in need or selling them on these sites is also a great way to not only potentially make money from clothes that would just be sat in the bottom of your wardrobe but also making sure they aren't just dumped in a landfill.


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