/ Shopping

How do you feel about ‘fast fashion’?

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. 

Just three months ago, Abby also asked if we should be reconsidering our clothes shopping habits.

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?

How much does sustainability influence your clothes purchases?
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Popular culture

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

A post shared by Aisling Bea (@weemissbea) on

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!

Comments

You will not be that surprised to hear that I am not a fast fashion follower. 😉

Although there is nothing more disappointing than spending a little more on something but then getting a stain it on the second wear!

Taylor O'Callaghan says:
30 July 2019

I’m definitely more aware than ever before about fast fashion and I’d love to be more sustainable but I personally find that more sustainable clothing comes with a premium price tag which I can’t always afford.

As a self-confessed shopaholic, I’d love to be able to stop buying as many clothes that I know aren’t sustainably made and instead invest in fewer, more ‘key’ pieces that are sustainable, but I also love fashion and following trends and find that being “on trend” and wearing something sustainable (especially when you don’t have a big bank balance) is really difficult. This is definitely an issue for big clothing companies to work on but I think the recycling systems that shops like H&M have are a great idea.

There’s a lot more talk about sustainability and the clothing industry than before though which is a great step forward – now to get the influencers on board!

It made me wonder – what temp do people wash their clothes at?

It is slavery to fashion that creates the problem, not the quality or treatment of the garment.

I have some shirts, socks and underwear that is over thirty years old and is washed after every wearing. It is not all in front-line service and some of it might be worn only six or eight times a year, but it is still wearable.

I disagree with the waste of materials and energy caused by putting spare buttons on shirts; I have not lost a button from a shirt for over thirty years now so for me the totality of the spare buttons is just a waste that increases the manufacturing and transport cost.

Clothes are washed on the ’60’ setting which is not sixty degrees but is intended to produce the performance of a sixty degree wash. We use non-biological washing powder rather than gel.

“What temp do people wash their clothes at?” is a good question because temperature settings are meaningless on recent washing machines, as John points out. This has been discussed at great length in an earlier Convo. Fortunately, meaningless temperatures seem to be disappearing and replaced with descriptions of what programmes are suitable for.

30-40. I did a wash recently at 60 but that is a rare occurrence.

I go through phases of slow and fast fashion. Some of my clothes I have had since I was a student… but my style has changed over time (as have I).

However, I do go through moments of ordering through Asos and Urban Outfitters for hats and outfits for events or festivals. I use a service where they send me a box of clothes that they think would suit me, I can then keep the clothes I want or not.

I clearly buy too many clothes and I don’t wear them as often as I should – at the moment I’m thinking who I can gift them to, including charities. What do you do with your old clothes?

When things are really worn out we put them in a carrier bag and leave them next to the recycling bin on emptying day and the council takes them away for reprocessing.

Charity shops will also accept unsaleable clothes for disposal to a rag merchant for a little extra income. It seems that demand for tweed jackets, barathea blazers, and gabardine raincoats in Africa and India has weakened since the British left so perhaps they end up as those blankets that removal firms put over your furniture.

This is a thorny issue. Some clothes are too cheap and this contributes to our throw-away culture. They are too cheap because they are made in countries where salaries are very low compared to here. If cheap clothes were made elsewhere by people who are better paid, they would be less affordable to less well off people here, and the people in countries where salaries are low would also be out of a job. This isn’t solvable in the immediate future unfortunately, so you would think the least we could all do is to recycle all our clothes. But no.

This in part throws open the question of landfill and recycling. If 300,000 tons of clothing end up in landfill each year in the UK, there is something deeply wrong with the people who chuck clothes out in their rubbish bin. No man is an island, especially in this day and age, and to plead ignorance about recycling and charities would be gross. There is also obviously a problem with rubbish collecting and recycling. Some have argued that we should be able to chuck everything in the one bin and local authorities/other would do the sorting at the other end. This may be going too far, and the sorters would have to be paid very good salaries, which, thinking of injury and infection risks, would have to include ‘danger’ money. However, is it really acceptable for local authorities to fill the land with clothes and other items just because a sizeable proportion of the population is uncaring?

(PS: I don’t know if it’s something I’ve done, but there’s something up with the line spacing.)