This month, government ministers rejected recommendations from parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee to tackle the gargantuan amounts of clothing waste the ‘fast fashion’ industry produces every year. Our purchasing of clothing weighed in at 1,130,000 tonnes in 2016, an increase of almost 200,000 tonnes since 2012.
According to the report from the Environmental Audit Committee, consumption of new clothing is estimated to be higher in the UK than any other European country, 26.7kg per capita. This compares to 16.7kg in Germany, 16kg in Denmark, 14.5kg in Italy, 14kg in the Netherlands and 12.6kg in Sweden.
However UK government ministers voted down proposals to introduce a 1p levy on garments produced for sale in the UK, effectively curtailing action on the fast fashion industry. The levy could have raised around £35million for investment in clothing collection points, sorting and recycling.
Our favourite brands like Boohoo, Missguided, Pretty Little Thing and Primark dominate the UK fast fashion clothing market, but they also play a major role in contributing to huge water consumption, pollution and huge amounts of waste which all contribute towards the climate emergency. Our attitude to clothes is shocking, with the concept of the ‘outfit repeater’, where young women consider garments worn once or twice to be old.
Missguided recently released a ‘£1 bikini’ that had shoppers flocking online leaving the product sold out in a matter of hours. The brand was recently exposed for offering uber-cheap deals on clothing, which always leave the workers who make them out of pocket, while calling for better law enforcement when it comes to the exploitation of workers. The £1 bikini highlights the scandal of low paid wages in the textile industry and serves as a physical reminder of how the price of a product reflects the conditions of the worker.
Fast fashion giant Boohoo recently launched a collection of 34 sustainable pieces made from recycled polyester that had been destined for landfills and uses no environmentally unfriendly dyes or chemicals, but with dresses being sold for a meagre £2 (reduced from an only slightly less meagre £5) eyebrows are raised at just how committed Boohoo is to it’s new found sustainable policies.
Brands like Boohoo make flimsy clothes that are not built to last, ensuring consumers are replacing products within the first month of purchasing to keep up with fashion trends and replace ruined clothing. Fast fashion is perfect for bloggers who are replacing their wardrobes as each month passes and ‘influencers’ play a key role in promoting mass purchasing with the ‘swipe up to buy now’ function on their promotional instagram posts.
A commitment to ended the exploitation of workers and the destruction of our planet is not a hashtag to add to adverts to sell more clothes, it’s a serious commitment to tackling global warming and the exploitation of the third world.
There are so many alternatives to having a wardrobe stuffed with fast fashion, with sites such as eBay and Depop offering shoppers the chance to browse through bargain second hand items. Charity shops are brimming with clothes and are tackling the stereotype that second hand clothes are old, pale and stale. Stepping out of your comfort zone and delving into the world of second hand fashion has worked miracles for my wardrobe and wallet, saving me up to a third off high street prices on brand new items.
Next season’s trend is being climate conscious, and trust me, you won’t find that in the bottom of a Boohoo bag.