Revealing The Ugly Facts About Fast Fashion

02/09/2016 08:16 | Updated 02 September 2016
Alex James

sustainable fashion

In the UK alone we throw away more than a million tonnes of clothes a year and then replace them with two million tonnes of new ones. Our wardrobes are bulging and so are our landfill sites where 50 per cent of these, often non biodegradable, garments end up.

Fast fashion is a modern phenomenon, which began in the Nineties when high-street stores began copying trends from the runways, and bringing out new ranges every few weeks and we are now gorging on cheap fashion, demanding more and more clothes at ever cheaper prices. I made this film to see if there is a solution to the problem of Fast Fashion.

I don't want people to stop buying clothes but cheap doesn't always mean good value.

I think the better we understand what our clothes are made from, how they are manufactured and where they end up when we've finished with them, the savvier we can be on the high street.

I want people to make up their own minds and hopefully this documentary will help highlight working conditions, fair pay and safety in the garment industry.

The film also looks at other options when it comes to choosing long lasting biodegradable clothes made from fibres such as wool and silk, which unlike man-made materials, break down quickly and don't clog up landfill sites

I would like people to ask themselves, when they buy a top for the same price as a burger, "How can it be so cheap?"

Not all natural fibres are the same. It takes more than ten thousand litres of water to make the raw cotton for every pair of jeans and in areas where cotton is grown, water is often in short supply

Wool emerges as a big part of the solution to the problem. It is versatile, bio-degradable and it's not for nothing that NASA's astronauts wear undergarments made from wool. It is comfortable, durable and doesn't smell even after months in space.

The film also features Prince Charles, a patron of the Campaign for Wool. To test the biodegradability of wool he buried two sweaters in a flowerbed at his London home, Clarence House in 2014. One was made from wool, the other from synthetic fibre. Four months later I dug up the sweaters. The wool had naturally decomposed, while the other synthetic sweater remained perfectly intact.

Perhaps most disturbing of all was when I attempted to set fire to two sweaters, one made from wool, the other made from acrylic. The wool sweater escaped with a burn hole, while the acrylic garment, made from oil-based plastic materials that are not biodegradable, burst into flames.

I'm not sure I even want things that flammable in the house, let alone clothing my children.

I hope that this film will help viewers understand the local and global impact of fast fashion. And give them something to think about the next time they hit the high street.

Slowing Down Fast Fashion can be purchased here

This September The Huffington Post UK Style is focusing on all things sustainable, for the second year running. Our thirst for fast fashion is dramatically impacting the environment and the lives of thousands of workers in a negative way. Our aim is to raise awareness of this zeitgeist issue and champion brands and people working to make the fashion industry a more ethical place.

We'll be sharing stories and blogs with the hashtag #SustainableFashion and we'd like you to do the same. If you'd like to use our blogging platform to share your story, email