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How Single-Use Festival Looks Are Taking a Toll on the Environment

The British charity Barnardo's discovered "That single-use outfits for music festivals, such as Glastonbury and Coachella, alone, account for approximately $307 million worth of items per year, or about 7.5 million outfits worn only once."

Modern wardrobes have adopted a 'wear it once' mentality, wearing an outfit one time, only for it to be considered old and unfashionable to wear again, and undoubtedly damaging the environment. For many, the impact of throwing away one outfit has gone unnoticed, resulting in an unnecessarily high carbon footprint. So why does this mentality still exist?

Why does a 'wear it once' mentality exist?

Why do we wear something once at a festival, and then see it at the end of its life?

It is inevitable, regardless of the time of year, that your clothes will get dirty, but this doesn't mean you have to throw them away. Fast fashion brands, from PrettyLittleThing to Boohoo, often thrive during festival season as they market their clothes as cheap, stylish, and single-use. But only a minority ever consider the impact this is going to have and how sustainable this is.

"Currently a quarter of people would be embarrassed to wear an outfit to a special occasion more than once – this rises to 37% of young people aged 16-24." Barnardo's

A lot of brands are guilty of contributing to this 'wear it once' mentality, releasing seasonal trends for low prices, encouraging and playing a huge role in the throwing out of clothes as new trends constantly arise.

Fashion influencers have a huge part to play in their unconscious encouragement to fast fashion and single-use products. Not only do our favourite influencers always wear something new, everybody, including our friends, appears to be wearing something new in each post. Having something constantly new in your wardrobe to wear has now become the expectation that has emerged from shopping online and the impact of this is huge.

The impact of single-use fashion

Did you know that the majority of carbon emission and greenhouse gases given off are from fashion through the manufacturing, dying of yarns, and the creation of raw fibres - all of which contribute to damaging the environment.

Disposing of clothing and household textiles costs the UK alone about £140m a year, according to a study by the government-backed recycling charity Wrap, and this number is expected to triple by 2050.

In 2015, greenhouse gas emissions from textiles production globally totalled 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent, based on a report by Circular Fibres Initiative. Shockingly, this is more than the emissions of all international flights and maritime shipping combined.

Nobody dreams of ever damaging the environment in such a harmful way, and when getting excited for a festival, being aware and sustainable tends to be the last thing on people's minds. However, being more environmentally friendly when it comes to festival fashion is a lot easier than it sounds.

How we can be more sustainable

Are you guilty of wearing outfits just once? Here are some ideas to get more out of your clothes:

“Choosing to buy pre-loved clothes for a special occasion means you don’t have to worry about bumping into someone wearing the same outfit. It is also kinder to the environment and your wallet, getting more wear out of clothes which might otherwise only be worn once and end up in a landfill.” Javed Khan, Barnardo's Chief Executive

Festivals can be a great time to use your old clothes you're thinking of throwing out, instead creating new combinations with them, or cutting them up to create new pieces. Being guilty myself of wearing things once, I began trying to renew clothes, and instead of feeling pressure to follow new trends, I tried to think of new ways to forge my own sense of style.


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