We are drowning in a world of disposable fast fashion and that should worry you.
So what is 'fast fashion'? We see it every day on our high streets, fleeting trends that we're told we can't live without, that are blasting through factories and into stores in a blink of an eye.
Where once upon a time we had collections for Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter, now we find ourselves being confronted by weekly, if not daily trend changes. Fast fashion is essentially cheaply made garments that aren't meant to last the test of time, it's there to be worn once and then discarded. In fact buying garments on the high street is cheaper now than it ever has been, we own on average four times the number of clothes we would have in 1980 and the way we shop has changed. Instead of building a relationship with the garments we own, we accept them as disposable items that we have no connection with.
So what does this mean for our planet? Well, what happens to all these garments once they're old news? Do they sit at the back of our wardrobe inevitably disposed of during a "spring clean"? Or maybe we send them off to a charity shop? Either way, we'll have to replace them with whatever is next on the trend list, because that's the way of the fast fashion world. Yes, it's affordable and easy to stay in or out of the latest fashion trend, but at what cost?
For this let's delve into some stats. The cost to the planet is vast, it is estimated that £140million worth of used clothing goes to landfill in the UK every year (source). According to new research, it has been predicted that an estimated 235 million items in the UK will be sent to landfill this Spring alone (source).
Aside from the footprint to our environment, there is also the human impact. Today there are an estimated 40 million garment workers and approximately 30 million home workers, powering the fast fashion retailers. Many of these workers are earning just half of what they need to meet a living wage. In addition to this, the 'Shop till they drop' report states that 33% of garment workers are medically underweight, 25% seriously so (source). Garment workers have essentially become the inconvenient truth of fast fashion that no one wants to acknowledge.
The human and environmental impact of this dark side of fashion is too enormous to ignore. The 'throwaway culture' that it has created in retail is detrimental to this planet, as it's no longer about quality manufacturing or timeless pieces made to last.
Fast fashion has become synonymous with exploitation, and it's time we hold the retail giants to account.