Updated: Dec 19, 2021
What is fast fashion? And why is it impacting the environment and the way we shop? Here’s everything you need to know, including ways you can avoid contributing to the global issue.
Here at Percy Stride, we care about where the materials used for our shoes come from and how they are manufactured.
It’s what makes our products long-lasting, environmentally friendly, and of premium value.
However, the same can’t be said for the rest of the fashion industry – with fast fashion brands being recognised as a huge hindrance to the planet and consumers.
What is fast fashion?
If you’re new to the term “fast fashion”, here’s a quick rundown of what it is.
To put it simply, fast fashion is used to describe inexpensive clothing and footwear that’s produced rapidly by a mass retailer in order for them to keep up-to-date with the latest trends.
While we can’t exactly say which shops are the biggest culprits, it’s certainly something you should consider before you part ways with your hard-earned cash. Fast fashion items are usually of low quality and low price. These items generally will be ill-fitting and will tend to have a short life span. Yes, you will receive your items quickly unlike a handmade product however these items may last just as long as the delivery.
Why is fast fashion a bad thing?
According to a recent study, 80 billion pieces of new clothing are purchased each year – which translates into $1.2 trillion annually for the fashion industry.
A vast majority of these clothing and footwear products are manufactured in China and Bangladesh. The assistant professor at the Washington University, Christine Ekenga, says: “This is a massive problem. The disproportionate environmental and social impacts of fashion warrant its classification as an issue of global environmental injustice”.
“From the growth of water-intensive cotton, to the release of untreated dyes into local water sources, to worker’s low wages and poor working conditions, the environmental and social costs involved in textile manufacturing are widespread”.
Worryingly, the UK bins around 300,000 metric tons of textiles every year, ending up in landfill (20%) or burnt (80%) in incinerators. Only 1% of new clothes are being recycled.
By 2050, the global fashion industry could use more than a quarter of the global carbon budget, leading to a 2-degree temperature rise.
But with fast fashion being so cheap and consumers wanting to get the latest look for a more affordable price, how can we do our part to stop this huge epidemic?
What’s the solution to fast fashion?
The bottom line is, clothes and footwear that’s made rapidly aren’t as likely to last as long as independent, quality-made products. While the initial cost might seem a little more daunting from the outset, you’ll make your money back in the long run – providing you look after your new piece of fashion in the right way.
For example, by washing your clothes less frequently, on a lower temperature and turning them inside out beforehand, you can use less energy and preserve the quality of the clothing for longer. It’s simple washing habits like this that minimise the “wear it and bin it” attitude that plagues the UK shopping industry today.
You should always read the label too. You see, petroleum-based synthetic fibres like polyester don’t require as much water and land as cotton – however, they emit more greenhouse gases per kilogram.
Bio-based synthetic polymers are a better solution, as they are made from renewable crops like corn and sugarcane, which release up to 60% fewer carbon emissions. If you see rPET on the label, you’ve found a winner.
Organic cotton is another favourable material to help reduce fast fashion. Clothes manufactured in this way helps to reduce the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, and water consumption.
What are your top tricks for preserving clothing and doing your bit to reduce the impact of fast fashion? Have we missed any out?
If you're not sure what your're shopping habits are why not try our blog : Male Shopping Habits: Does this sound like you?