Fast fashion doesn’t have a good rep - and for good reason. It was invented to be exactly what it says in its name – fast. This means fast turnaround of new styles, fast production, fast sales, and ultimately a fast life. We’re all guilty of getting bored of an item of clothing after just a few wears. It’s estimated that after around 3 wears, the average woman begins to view her clothing as outdated and in need of being replaced- a relatable feeling, right? Due to the speed that fast fashion is being designed, made, worn, then discarded, our planet and the people making our clothes are being drastically affected (Keep Britain Tidy). Fast fashion has been built on a wholly unsustainable model and unfortunately is now home to many cases of human exploitation and high levels of environmental damage.
This a global issue, but the UK are a big part of the problem. We buy more clothes in the UK than any other country in Europe (Contrado). According to Oxfam, approximately 10,000 garments go to landfill in the UK every 5 minutes. That’s around a billion items of clothing every year. Just think how many wardrobes they could fill! Once clothing reaches landfill, they can sit in the ground for up to 200 years depending on the fabric they are made from (Oxfam).
So, what can we do? Well, the good news is, we can all play a part to make a positive change by getting on board with what’s called the “Circular Fashion Economy”. Unlike the unsustainable “Fast Fashion” model, the “Circular Fashion” model can help improve fashion’s environmental impact. So how does this model work and what does it look like? Currently, fast fashion works along a linear line, starting at production and ending in landfill. The only way to break this cycle is to interrupt the pattern and to make the linear line, circular. Circular fashion aims to break the linear line of fast fashion through the recycling of clothing and textiles before they reach landfill. This can be done by re-wearing, repurposing, and reworking unwanted items. By doing this, the amount of new clothing hitting the high street will reduce as well as how many clothes that end up being unnecessarily thrown away. According to Fashion Revolution, extending the life of a piece of clothing by 9 months would reduce its carbon, water and waste footprint by around 20-30%. They also say that around 95% of our clothing can be recycled or upcycled- so we all have a responsibility to do our bit for the sake of the planet!