In this article I will be exploring how beneficial it is to become more sustainable within the clothing industry whilst also exploring certain unattainable factors that stop consumers from making the switch to sustainably produced garments.
Sustainability... What Is It?
Sustainability in fashion is also described through slow fashion; a direct contrast to the controversy of fast fashion which is when consumers buy a bulk of cheap and bad quality items that they will only wear a couple of times before throwing them away. Slow fashion emphasises buying durable quality products and reducing the consumption rate.
Environmental Issues Within Fast Fashion
Did you know that it takes 2,700 litres to create a single cotton t-shirt? The same amount of water could quench the thirst of an individual for 900 days. Now think about all the Shein hauls that have more than 30 items of clothing in one video. The amount of water used in just those clothing items would be huge.
Another problem that comes in fast fashion include micro trends which describes fast changing trends that usually don't last more than a month or two before the next trend is more popular. Shein themselves have over 21,000 items of clothing under specific trends. This means industries will create a large amount of clothes to supply the demand of the trend and as soon as the trend changes there will be left a large amount of unused stock which will most likely end up in a landfill.
The landfills are now seeing 10,000 items of clothing disposed in landfills every 5 minutes. When I first read that fact I thought it would be "10,000 items every week" and even then I would have been shocked, but 10,000 every 5 minutes is just a monstrosity. A single cotton t-shirts carbon footprint is calculated to be around 103g of CO2 from travelling around the world into the consumers hands this means there is a huge carbon footprint tied into the consumption of clothing.
A research showed that the UK individual is now buying 60% more clothing than in 2000. This shows an increase of fast fashion as clothing becomes more accessible and affordable. Not only is the low price of the products important, but the shipping is also extremely convenient for most fast fashion brands like Boohoo, Pretty Little Thing or Nasty Gal where they do deals where you will buy a certain amount of clothing and can end up having free delivery. This encourages the individual to purchase more in order to attain the free delivery.
Why Is It So Hard To Stop?
The main concern with trying to make the population slow their consumption is trying to change a habit that has been happening for decades. The main argument often comes from "I would rather own 10 shirts instead of paying the same price of 1 shirt" which is a phrase I have myself admittedly used. However, the main idea is not restricting the ability to wear different clothes but it is to think about where they come from, how they are produced and the carbon footprint that comes tied with the items of clothing.
As someone who does enjoy shopping on Shein, Zara, Urban Outfitters and other fast fashion industries (something I am trying to cut down on and it has been a successful new years resolution for 2022 so far) I found that another main reason I find it hard to do the switch is the pricing that comes with slow fashion brands where often a shirt will be priced between 50 - 100 GBP. As someone who makes almost minimum wage at a part time job it would take me more than a shift to cover the full cost of a shirt.
This also comes hand in hand with the trends, the constant changing of trends means that fast fashion industries have the ability to change their products extremely fast whereas slow fashion often comes as its own style and not part of a trend.
How Do I Make The Switch?
As part of my new years resolution was to stop bulk buying from fast fashion brands and do more local or vintage shopping I found myself more conscious of the clothes I already have.
A fun way to decrease your consumption of fashion is to do some DIY or up-cycling your own clothes. However, if you are not the creative type perhaps selling your clothes online such as Vinted or Depop allows you to sell your clothes and even ac cumulate your credit to allow you to either buy other clothes on the website or retrieve your balance to your account.
When I made the switch I also started to go more into vintage shops, especially for jewellery and accessories. It is also easier to tell yourself that a 50/50 wardrobe where 50% of your clothes are second hand and 50% are fast fashion trends is better than 100% fast fashion.
Overall, it is everyones personal duty to help better this world and make sure our Earth's resources are taken care of and not exploited. By decreasing the consumption of fast fashion you are decreasing the demand for these clothes.
It's the little steps that count.