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How To Combat The Fast Fashion Mindset

Jan 16

Written by:
16/01/2018 09:37  RssIcon

Understanding the life-cycle of your unwanted clothes is integral to fighting this wasteful culture

 

Its a sad statistic that a massive 300,000 tonnes of clothing about (¼ of all unwanted clothes) went to landfill in 2016. 

Despite this waste the fast fashion industry sells an additional 1.13m tonnes of clothing to consumers every year.

In a society that is becoming increasingly environmentally aware in other sectors such as plastic recycling and renewable energy, is our textile industry failing to keep up?

 

Image: Clothing

 

Both the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh and recent calls for help from Zara factory workers have assisted the drive for ethical transparently in the garment supply chain, but without actually changing the fast fashion mindset there will always be social and environmental issues. With high demand, comes high cost – although often not to the final consumer. 

At the moment, we only wear on average ⅓ of the items in our wardrobe. By analysing why this is happening we can make progress towards changing purchasing attitudes for the better and in turn strive to change the way we enjoy fashion, both ethically and environmentally. 

 

The familiar fashion fashion mindset

Common reasons for not wearing items are: 

  • It was an impulse buy
  • Doesn't fit any more
  • Specific style that is no longer fashionable

 

1. Impulse

Impulse buying is something everyone is guilty of, at least at some point in their life. Usually the low price tag that has a lot to do with this. Trying to take a more conscientious thought process about whether you actually need (and want) something before heading to the till could make all the difference.

 

2. Fit

If you invest in high quality garments in the first place you are more likely to want to make them last. A trip to the tailors, or even learning to sew yourself, can turn something ill-fitting back into a wearable item.

 

3. Fashion

High street shops change their stock on average once per month. This spending pace is near impossible to keep up with.

Try to only buy items you would be confident wearing in one years time, when the hype has died down. Make sure you feel that is genuinely suits you and genuinely makes you feel good for your own independent reasons. Only buy what you love.

 

Where do clothes end up?

Buying less in the first place is extremely important, as contrary to popular belief, the items that we send to charity shops and clothing banks are not necessary sold on the rails but are more likely to end up in developing countries on the second hand clothing market and this carries with it a different set of problems.

For example clothing that is sold to vendors in Sub-Saharan Africa (70% of charity clothing donations, according to Oxfam), although profitable for local people in the short term, can actually be detrimental to the local textile industry. 

 

Table: destinations of UK used textiles 2014

 

Kenya textile industry jobs reduced by a huge 80% between 1975 and 2000 while Rwanda has just two remaining large garment manufacturing companies, just one of which sells domestically.

This has led to a decision by the Six-Nation East African Community (composed of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda) to fully ban the import of second hand clothing by 2019 – a ban that is claimed premature by some as it does not give enough for domestic textile industries to properly develop.

Kenya has openly backed down on the ban in response to sanction threats from the U.S. on their coffee and tea exports if it is instituted. 

 

Is buying vintage a more sustainable option to fast fashion? 

Buying vintage clothing is one way to satisfy a hunger for fashion without forcing the use of valuable resources (it takes 8180 litres of water to make one pair of new jeans).

Vintage is widely defined as items that are 20 years or older and is preferred by many for reasons including:


1. Quality

Clothing which has stood the test of time has usually done so because of the high quality processes and enduring fabric with which it was made.


2. Save money

If it's already lasted this long, chances are it should last you even longer. A good way to cut future spending.

 

3. Environment

Buying pre-loved clothing is an environmentally sound choice as the textile industry is currently the second most polluting industry in the world, after oil. Buying vintage is good way to decrease these emissions.

 

4. Unique

Because vintage could have been made anything between 20 and 100 years ago, the chances that you'll be caught wearing the same item as someone else are incredibly low. 

 

By paying more attention to what and why we buy, as well as making an effort to purchase second hand and vintage clothing instead of new, we can take an increasingly conscientious approach to our spending habits.

 

Written by Rebecca Linnard at Brag Vintage

 


 

See our guide to alternative clothing for a range of sustainable & vintage brands. 

 


 

 

 


 

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