Fast Fashion: It's Crunch Time
I can’t be the only one who’s noticed the vast and rapid increase in news about the impacts of fast fashion in recent months. Suddenly, it seems that ethical fashion is in the mainstream, finally, after decades of activism behind the scenes, and 6 years since the horrific Rana Plaza disaster that we hope will be the last of it’s kind.
It can be easy to get swept up in the headlines, so it’s more important than ever to stay focussed on common goals (think - a fashion industry that treats everyone in the supply chain with respect and gratitude, and restores the environment instead of destroying it).
The time is now to take action - and it’s easier than you might think.
Here’s the bad news: we have just 12 years to put a halt to climate change. According to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - a body of the UN), for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5°C, we have to take serious action within the next 12 years - or face serious, irreversible consequences like mass extinction, natural disasters and more.
Luckily, there is a lot of good news too. The above findings have been a wakeup call for many, and it’s undeniable that the momentum towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle can be felt everywhere, Within just the past 2-3 months. i-D magazine published an article this week claiming that online searches for the term ‘sustainable fashion’ have increased this year by over 66%; the EAC (the government’s Environmental Audit Committee) have released a report on their investigation into the fast fashion in the UK with really tangible suggestions like a tax on all new clothing to cut waste; the BBC Earth have launched a educational initiative and their own sustainable fashion collection with People Tree; and industry stalwart Drapers held an inaugural Sustainable Fashion Conference where brands like Burberry, Adidas and the Kering group made huge commitments to a more sustainable future for fashion.
The best news though is that we, as everyday consumers, can make a huge difference in the fight against climate change, which in my opinion must include transforming the systems of the world’s second largest polluter, the fashion and textiles industry.
Tackling a century of fast fashion habits, cultural systems and supply chains can be an overwhelming thought, but remember - it’s the government and the retailers jobs to make huge system change - we as a grassroots, consumer-led movement can make the small changes in our own lifestyles, vote with our wallets, join the sustainable fashion community, and exercise our rights as citizens to demand real action from said governments and retailers. Here are 5 key things you can do to get started:
Take a shopping detox, or make some simple swaps.
Try going 3, or 6, or 9 weeks without being any clothing at all, or simply swap out new clothing for second hand clothing from charity shops or vintage shops.
Dispose of your preloved clothing responsibly, or rethink your relationship with your wardrobe.
Never send clothing to landfill - instead you can recycle, donate, sell or swap. Learn to value what you already have by challenging yourself to style it in new ways, or learning to mend and tailor it to fit you better.
Join a protest, or write a letter or email to your local policymakers.
If you’re a young person, join in on the global school climate strikes, or use the big four fashion weeks to make a statement. Use this template to write a letter or email asking your MP or MSP to consider addressing the issue of fast fashion.
Demand transparency from brands, or invest in the ethical alternative.
Use the power of social media to ask brands #whomademyclothes - if they have nothing to hide, they will tell you information about the treatment of people in their supply chain. If their answer isn’t good enough, buy from a better brand.
Attend Fashion Revolution Week events, or host your own.
There are hundreds of events happening all over the world during Fashion Revolution Week , where you can connect with like-minded people and learn more about the ethical fashion movement. You could also host a clothes swap, film screening, pop-up shop, panel talk or fashion show to help raise money and awareness for the cause.
The most important tip though, is to remember that you are not alone. To help you out on your journey to from fashion addict to fashion activist, there is a whole global community of ‘pro-fashion protesters’ (people that love fashion, but hate its negative impact on people and the planet). Here are a few organisations and individuals you should get familiar with from now on: