It's no secret that the majority of our clothes contain plastic. In fact, up to 64% of new fabrics are made of the stuff. Despite being deadly to the Earth's waterways, and even to our own health, microplastics in clothing are discreet. But not all fashion trends are. From polyester transparent raincoats to plastic beaded necklaces, certain fashion trends are obnoxious in their plastic usage. In an age where a rubbish truck full of clothes makes its way to landfill every second, should we be promoting such a problematic material through fashion?
The plastic beaded necklace
No longer an item restricted to Claire's, the plastic beaded necklace is dominating high street fashion. Retailing at various price points, from 99p to £595, these colourful accessories are defining 2021 spring wear. Martha Calvo, a high-end jewellery brand, describe the pieces as:
"Must haves that fuse uptown elegance with a downtown edge. (They) add the perfect balance of edgy elegance to street chic sophistication with a sprinkle of glam." Joolz by Martha Calvo
Unfortunately, the joy these creative necklaces generate does not extend to the environment. With many plastic charms being thrown away and never fully decomposing, we need to pick our jewellery carefully. Brands such as Happy Mango Beads are offering alternative solutions:
Beads made from seeds, nuts and clay which are environmentally friendly and sustainable
Wood beads obtained from non-endangered rainforests
Recycled glass beads using discarded pieces of bottles, windshields and mirrors
Brass beads crafted from old keys
Metal beads repurposed from old aluminium silverware
Another option is to get crafty and create your own beaded necklace using rolled up magazine strips. This trend has taken rise on creative outlets such as Pinterest, offering a recyclable alternative to plastic beads.
The transparent raincoat
British summer brings with it uncertainty about the weather. Will the sun last, or will there be a huge downpour out of nowhere? The transparent raincoat seemed to solve all of our fashion concerns! A cute outfit could still be visible underneath a waterproof outer layer. Even the runway was showing off these apparent revelations. However, for all the fashion crises this garment fixes, it seems to create many more for the planet.
Commonly made from 100% plastic, these rainproof jackets are often tossed aside once they've served their purpose (or have been damaged due to poor quality). They eventually end up in landfill and, as they break down, can emit toxic chemicals, polluting both land and waterways.
Therefore, instead of panic-purchasing, a little time spent researching more eco-friendly fashion choices goes a long way.
With UK festivals selling out for summer 2021, the worry of the environmental damage these events cause returns. However, as an attendee, there are steps you can take to prevent said damage and have a guilt-free time! One way to do this is to avoid traditional glitter.
Glitter has long been a festival trend, and why shouldn't it be? Any excuse to add a bit of sparkle to our lives should be grasped with both hands! But behind this fun, glimmering substance is a darker reality. Don't believe it? Over 60 British music festivals made a pledge in 2018 to ban it from their sites by 2021. But why?
An article by the Insider reported that tiny pieces of plastic are what make up glitter. Despite this, it has huge consequences on wildlife. It makes its way into our oceans and builds up inside plankton, fish and birds, often killing them as a result. Not only that, PET (a common contender in the production of glitter) releases harmful chemicals as it breaks down. These chemicals are so strong that they can disturb human and animal hormone levels.
Luckily for both festivalgoers and the planet, biodegradable glitter is now widely accessible. EcoStardust, for example, provides glitter made from cellulose found in hardwoods and eucalyptus, instead of plastic. The eucalyptus is responsibly sourced and contributes to a glitter that doesn't harm nature. EcoStardust do warn, however, not to trust all 'biodegradable' labels, noting that PLA is not easily compostable and should be avoided.
Are trends the problem?
Getting involved with fashion trends is nothing to be ashamed of. Having said this, trends become problematic when they promote harmful and damaging materials such as plastic. The garments made using these materials also often get discarded, given the throw-away culture of plastic fashion trends.
Instead of accepting these fashion statements at face value and jumping on the bandwagon, we need to question how to make our fashion choices more eco-friendly. By finding plastic-free alternatives, and not supporting plastic fashion trends, we can make a positive change.