Our sustainability theme this month is clothes & fast fashion. So many thanks to Megan Thurow, our comms assistant, who has written us this blog about it.
I love shopping as much as the next person but only really recently realised what a negative impact it has on the environment. It seems many individuals, myself included, seem to be ignorant of the heavy burden which fashion industry has on the environment.
Fast fashion, as the phenomenon is coined, means that clothing companies produce clothing quickly and cheaply, thereby more easily enticing customers with their quick turnover of products. Some of the harmful effects caused by fast fashion over the last few years are:
- 2,625 kg of clothing are burned or landfilled every second, adding up to a mind-boggling 82.7 billion kg/year worldwide.
- Clothing dumped in landfills, when not made out of biodegradable materials, can sit there for up to 200 years.
- Just to make one cotton shirt, uses as much water as one person’s drinking requirements for two and a half years.
While these are just a few of the many negative effects fast fashion has on our environment, you can read more at: The Economic, Environmental & Social Impacts of Fast Fashion. When you realise the destructive effects that fast fashion has on the environment, it is not hard to see that in order to preserve the planet’s resources, we must find ways to change these harmful habits. This is where sustainable fashion comes in!
So, what is sustainable fashion? ‘Sustainable fashion can be defined as clothing, shoes and accessories that are manufactured, marketed and used in the most sustainable manner possible, taking into account both environmental and socio-economic aspects’ (Green Strategy, 2014).
A turnoff for many people regarding sustainable clothing is that it comes with a heftier price tag than your average £3 shirt from H&M. However, you can find ways to make the clothing you already own more environmentally friendly without having to splash the cash. Now the question is, how can you do this?
One way to make your clothing more sustainable is by donating clothing to a charity shop or swapping clothes with your friends instead of throwing them away. This way you ensure that they don’t go straight to the landfill. According to Greenpeace, if we all doubled the lifespan of our clothing, we could cut down on emissions by 24% each year.
Buying vintage is also a beneficial way of allowing clothing to be in circulation for an extended period of time. Vintage clothing can also be a great repurposed and upcycled item in your wardrobe. The possibilities are endless with what you can do with the right tools, a bit of skill and some creativity.
Another way to keep your clothing more environmentally friendly is simply by taking good care of them so that they don’t have to be thrown away. Also having the ability to fix your own clothes or tailor them when need-be is very handy instead of retiring them straight into the bin.
The three R’s: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle are no different when it comes to clothing. By reducing the amount we buy, we contribute less to the fast fashion industry. By reusing we are able to contribute to the lessening of emissions whilst prolonging the lives of the already circulated clothing items. Finally, by recycling we allow individuals to find use of something we longer want whilst also ensuring that non-biodegradable clothing isn’t ending up in landfills.
When you want to update your wardrobe, rather than spending money on cheaply made products which will likely break or be out of fashion in a few months, invest your money into well-made sustainable staple items. They last longer, they’re better for the environment and their manufacturing processes can be traced thereby ensuring you are not directly supporting poor and unethical conditions for workers.
When you do shop, consider the wearability of each piece. If it something you will get a lot of use out of rather than for a one-time occasion it is more likely to be worth it. Buying items which can be used across the various seasons is also a good way to reduce the amount of clothing you buy.
Sustainable clothing company Give, Wear, Love was founded by Amelia Twine in 2018, with a desire to protect nature and its resources, Amelia took her knowledge and passion for sustainable and organic food and farming to creating a business which promotes the sale of sustainably made fashion. Give, Wear, Love describe themselves as a company who ‘provide an alternative to fast fashion, where the style savvy shopper can find beautifully curated seasonal edits of conscious clothing.’ Over the next month Give, Wear, Love are promoting clothing made out of organic materials as well as the sale of vintage items and more recycled fabrics.
Amelia was one of the speakers at this year’s Catalyst Bootcamp who gave a talk about fashion and sustainability. Amelia led a team sustainability challenge who came up with a school programme which would teach students sewing basics, so they would more easily be able to upcycle their old garments and breathe new life into them. If you want to read more about the experiences from the Bootcamp, you can read more here on our blog: https://bit.ly/2lZdjpd.
She also provides us with some tips on how to shop sustainably. Organic cotton and other organic materials are recommended by Amelia as the production process involves much less harmful side effects for the environment.
Another tip is to pay attention to the type of material the clothing you are buying is made of. By purchasing fabric which is biodegradable which has a clear and traceable cycle of production will greatly increase your positive impact on the environment.
If you want to keep up with all the great things happening over at Give, Wear, Love and the great work that Amelia is doing, give them a follow on Instagram and be sure to keep up to date with their website: https://givewearlove.com