With online shopping and a demand for next-day delivery, buying clothes has never been easier. But does a ‘throwaway’ culture affect the way we shop and the environment?
A recent survey revealed that Britons are expected to spend £2.7bn on outfits they’ll only wear once this summer. I think I speak for us all when I say, that’s a lot!
What happens to all of the clothes after they’ve been worn?
Last year, The Economist reported 300,000 tons of clothing end up in landfill each year in the UK. This means that not only does fast fashion have an impact on your bank balance but it is also affecting the environment.
It wouldn’t be fair for me to pretend that I don’t order from ‘fast fashion’ brands, which offer people on a lower budget the opportunity to access more styles.
As a self-confessed bargain-hunter I appreciate the amount of choice these brands offer, while having an often generous and convenient returns policy.
That being said I often use the returns policy because the quality isn’t always that great, or the sizes don’t match up.
Could brands do more?
More retailers are starting to offer their customers the opportunity to be more aware of the impact that their shopping habits have, or give them a chance to buy more sustainable clothing.
I noticed that Asos now has the option to filter clothing by ‘responsible’. This means they can show you clothes which have been recycled or are made from sustainable materials.
Unfortunately, the number of responsible clothing is still low. Out of a total of 808 styles found under the category ‘women’s new in: clothing’, only 49 were from a ‘responsible source’.
Stores such as, Marks and Spencer, H&M, and Monki give you the chance to recycle clothing in store. Many also offer incentives to do so, including money off your next purchase.
Is this something you’d like to see more of from retailers?
In the last few years, there has been a rise in the number of ‘influencers’ on social media, some of whom are paid to promote fashion brands.
TV shows such as Love Island are sponsored by some fast fashion brands, while the survey I mentioned earlier also found that one in four people would feel embarrassed to wear the same outfit twice.
View this post on Instagram
I love Love Island, I just do, (call me a sucker for a fairytale in a thong) but I hate its sponsorship & promotion of fast, throwaway fashion – which surely can’t have been made by people paid enough or treated fairly. If you’re coming round to changing your clothing habits for ethical & environmental reasons but love fashion & dressing up which is GREAT and very me baybee, try the #30wearschallenge before you buy. Would you at least wear it thirty times? (a number to offset the eco effect it has to make one item). Also you can ask, literally email & insta message/tweet brands asking #whomademyclothes (how transparent about their worker’s rights are they?) The @goodonyou_app is a great tool for this. Swap clothes, use second hand & charity shops & buy to last. Fast fashion is driven by big companies & us the consumer, which has a huge effect environmentally and societally on people in developing countries & much of it is modern day slavery. But also the UK & US governments have a huge part to play as they happily take tax from these companies so it’s not all “what’s happening over there”. It’s a complex system but like with plastic, changing many now unconscious habits & buying from thumbs up places as opposed to ones with no ethical codes is a good step forward. Some accs to follow: @goodonyou_app @ohsoethical @fash_rev @thecostumedirectory (my sister) and then I’ve a hashtag stupidly named #aislingrecommendsecoorsociallyconsciousbrandseverydayuntilxmas where I add some recommended brands & tips. But also feel free to add & tag below this post. Xxx
How do you feel about ‘fast fashion’? Do you think popular culture and social media plays a part in a ‘throwaway’ culture?
Is the issue as complex as Aisling Bea suggests in her Instagram post above? Let me know what you think – I’m looking forward to discussing it!