In a culture of social media ‘influencers’ and bloggers, we’re are taught to consume, consume, consume. ‘Haul’ videos on YouTube, where vloggers pull out item after item of clothing that they’ve recently bought, can hit millions of views. Vlogger Zoella uploaded a Primark hall to her 11.5 million subscribers, flunting 56 items that she had bought from the low-priced store. Videos like this encourage the over-consumption of ‘fast-fashion’, which relies on low- costing clothing created and delivered to stores at a high speed, which often results in poor working conditions for those involved in the garments’ production.
In more economically developed countries, many are persuaded into updating their wardrobes due to them being deemed ‘out-of-fashion’ and most are more likely to throw away unwanted or damaged clothing rather than attempting to mend them. In 2017, 235 million items of clothing were sent to landfills in the UK alone. The fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters of our environment, with dyes being used for textiles being the world’s second highest polluters of clean water.
When it comes to the individual’s responsibility, it is important to take a closer look at the make- up of our clothing. Sustainable materials include organic cotton, as the production avoids using fertilisers and pesticidies unlike the non-organic processes. Bamboo and hemp and any recycled materials such as denim, cashmere or PET are also viewed as more sustainable options. Additionally, look out for endorsements from the Soil Association, the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Oeko-Tex, so to make sure that the brands you are consdering purchasing from have been certified in having sustainability at their core.
Buying second-hand clothing can also do a great deal in helping to tackle the issue of textile waste. Consider eBay, Depop, ASOS Marketplace and many others that sell second-hand clothing and accessories before you immediately turn to typical fast-fashion outlets. Depop and eBay are great options as they allow you to sell your clothing also, which is key to reducing your personal textile waste as well as earning you money. Donating unwanted clothes to local charity shops or clothes banks is also a good option and has the added bonus of helping people in need. Buying from sustainable brands may appear pricey at first but these are items of clothing that are designed to last far longer than those from fast-fashion stores. There is also the option of spending more in charity shops instead of the low-priced stores on the high street. Check out Gather & See, People Tree and Finistree as brands that have sustainability at their hearts. With the fashion industry having such an impact on the planet and on many workers’ welfare, we have a duty to more thoughtful when it comes to our shopping habits and in making our lives more sustainable.
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