Festival season is upon us, meaning approximately 23,500 tonnes of waste will be shipped to landfill sites, including your sequin trousers and bucket hats that you bought on a swipe-up link from your favourite rite Instagrammer, a week before Coachella.
You've guessed it, it's time to talk about how Instagram is killing our planet. The mindless promotion of fast fashion is exacerbated through festival ‘lookbooks’ and edits, and we, as mindless buyers, are responsible for the 10,000 items of clothing being sent to landfills every five minutes.
Mindless buying goes into the sea
As a mindless shopper myself, who has only recently started to reflect on the impact indulging in fast fashion has on the planet, I am guilty of tearing through my overpacked wardrobe the week before a festival, standing amongst piles of clothes just to say “I have nothing to wear”. So, I proceed to buy a next-day delivery synthetic skirt I found on Instagram, to wear once then never see it again.
Fast fashion promises more clothes, at a cheap cost, allowing consumers to keep up with the latest trends for less. Festival season is one of the most profitable occasions for high street shops and online retailers who often dedicate whole edits to help find you the perfect festival fit. A recent study found that festival outfits account for approximately $307 million worth of items per year, equating to 7.5 million outfits worn once.
The problem, therefore, is that fast fashion has become so widely accessible, and so widely promoted by Instagram influencers that consumers have become disconnected from the impact production and destruction of clothing has on the environment. This is due to the mantra of “more, more, more”, encouraged by fashion brands and influencers, which has led to a throw-away culture of single-use festival clothing.
Instagram's red carpet runway
Coachella, the Mecca for influencers, is California's biggest music festival that each year welcomes 250,000 attendees. Despite being headlined by some of the top music artists, is known more for its elaborate trends, resonating as a global fashion playground. The Business Insider dubs the event the “Influencers Olympics'' and found when asking amongst the crowd, that influencers had spent a staggering $2,000 on one outfit.
The ‘red carpet’ for everyday people is spearheaded by social media's top faces who often collaborate with brands weeks before to curate and market outfits that we, as consumers, simply have to buy. Instagram is no longer a social media outlet, but a platform for businesses to promote and sell products using the modern-day advertisement, the ‘influencer’. So long are the days where a company uses a billboard or a bus-stop-poster to sell a new dress, as a £250,000 collab with a Love Island star with five million followers will see far more interaction. Boohoo.com for example saw a 43% increase in revenue after using reality stars in their campaigns.
Thus when it comes down to festival fashion, we are brainwashed into adopting unintentional Instagram trends. This throw-away behaviour r as a result of single outfit purchasing encouraged by influencers has resulted in each one of us contributing 1.75kg of fashion waste annually. Our mindless attitude towards fashion means when your favourite TV star shows off their £2K Coachella get-up, you ditch your vintage denim shorts and cotton t-shirt and fork out £200 on some next day delivery diamante flares, only to wear once and most likely damage a few sea life habitats in the process.
Reporters dub Coachella as the “Influencers Olympics'' and found when asking amongst the crowd, influencers had spent a staggering $2,000 on one outfit. Business Insider
Youth culture and carbon footprint
So, where do we go from here? Whilst immersing ourselves in fashion experimentation when attending festivals, we're moving away from the music and into a fashion battle, striving to be best dressed but at what cost? If Instagram has the ability to promote, it also has the ability to encourage positive and effective change when it comes to our consumer habits.
Influencers could use their platforms to spread an upcycle movement, encouraging their millions of followers to go wild with festival looks, but within the means of the clothes they have. Let's create a reel on how to rework last season's flares or share some stories of the best second-hand ponchos, rather than a paid promo swipe-up link to a polyester T-shirt that has a 5.5kg carbon footprint.
Little can be achieved, however, if we only blame the promoters. As consumers, we have a big role to play and make festivals about music, not just fashion. We need to be progressive, but retrospectively, stripping it back to the basics. Let us swap the mesh and sequins for linen shirts and vintage jeans, realign festivals with music and fun clothing over Instagram likes and fast fashion. Festivals have become microcosms for global pollution and environmental damage, with fashion playing a key role.
The Covid-19 pandemic has put our big events on standby. Despite the year of reflection and growing awareness of the damage being done to our planet, profit remains paramount and companies will continue to promote and produce single-use festival outfits as long as the demand for them is there.
Thus, as the consumers and ‘influencers’, it's our responsibility to be proactive and mindful of our buying habits. It's imperative to be aware and recognise the harm being done by our throw-away culture, if we want to better our planet and create a more sustainable fashion industry to dress us for our future festivals, ensuring longevity and protection of our environment. Let's turn the tide and break the status quo.