Fast fashion plays a major role in fashion retailers and the fashion industry. As social media constantly circulates new style trends, we’re constantly encouraged to buy a new wardrobe as each season rolls around.
The question is, could it be time to embrace a new era of sustainable style? On the back of a cost-of-living crisis, experts suggest that turning to natural alternatives for our favourite fashion brands could save out pocket and the planet.
Stick with us as we delve into the devastating consequences of fast fashion and reveal why it’s time to make the sustainable swap to ethical clothing in 2023.
Fast Fashion In 2023
Since 2020, clothing sales have all but doubled. As we embrace an online future of shopping, over 200 billion units of clothing are sold per year. This number has soared, as the average time an item is worn drops by 36%.
From TikTok shop to Instagram influencing, fast fashion trends are on the rise. In a social-media driven society, it’s no wonder that we’re constantly influenced to follow that ever-so easy link to low-price, low quality garments that serve just one seasonal craze. In doing this, we’re constantly feeding unsustainable practices, such as the burning of fossil fuels, piling up landfills with waste, and unethical working conditions.
In fact, according to experts at Itnux, a whopping 57% of discarded material from the fast fashion industry ends up in landfills, while 92 million tons of clothing related waste contaminates our ocean.
Is It Time To Embrace Natural Alternatives?
The devastating consequences of fast-fashion out-weigh the benefits of low cost style. Not only are sustainable alternatives kinder to the planet, but they can be kinder to your pocket too.
Here are some of the benefits associated with making the all important sustainable swap.
Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
The fast fashion industry is responsible for a whopping 10% of global carbon emissions.
This is due to the sheer scale of clothing, popular retailers such as SHIEN and Zaful have to make to meet demands. From using oil to produce synthetic fibres, to the impacts of chemical dye that trickle into the water, it’s no secret that large scale fashion giants are contributing to climate change and ocean acidification.
Opting for smaller scale companies, that prioritise an eco-friendly manufacturing process can reduce your fashion footprint significantly.
Brands like Stella McCartney and Gucci, use recycled fibres such as ECONYL® to create their clothes. Using sustainable materials alone reduces Co2 production by 57,000 tons, proving that while you may pay more for high quality goods, their ethical practices make a great deal of difference.
A Cost-Of-Living Solution
Many of us have turned to fast fashion as a solution to the cost-of living crisis. After the beginning of 2023 saw prices rise by 5.5%, it’s no wonder that low-cost retailers are seeing spikes in consumer engagement.
However, according to Dr. Alana James, investing in sustainability could save you money, in an era of rising inflation.
The professor at Northumbria’s School of Design believes that individuals that pay a slightly higher price for well made staples, not only steer away from fast fashion, but gain an item that will last.
“I think when we when we consider the cost of living crisis and fashion, it’s not just the purchasing of fashion. It’s the care, it’s the maintenance,” she claims. “I would personally always suggest that individuals pay a slightly higher price for clothing. I’m not talking about splashing out on really luxurious items, but to buy the best quality that you can afford.”
Many sustainable brands are also smaller businesses, that are known for feeding profits into ethical causes. Ensuring that your money goes to these types of retailers, could also keep them on the high street in a cost-of-living crisis that is affecting both businesses and consumers.
Supporting Safer Working Conditions
Did you know that a staggering 170 million children are involved in at least one form of garment work? According to UNICEF, the fast fashion industry is a leading cause of child labour across the globe.
“There are many girls in countries like India and Bangladesh, who are willing to work for very low prices and are easily brought into these industries under false promises of earning decent wages,” says the global coordinator of Stop Child Labour, Sofie Ovaa.
In the fashion industry in particular, children are specifically targeted for low-skilled labour tasks. Take cotton picking for example. Employers have been known to prefer smaller hands for the pick in order to not damage the crop.
“There is no supervision or social control mechanisms, no unions that can help them to bargain for better working conditions,” says Ovaa. “These are very low-skilled workers without a voice, so they are easy targets.”
Opting for smaller scale, ethical alternatives plays a role in reducing the need for child labour. If you choose not to feed capital into fashion giants, we edge one step closer to a future of safer and sustainable working conditions.
Can You Be The Change?
Parting ways with your favourite fashion brand is not easy. In a cost-of-living crisis, cash is tight, and low cost solutions are so easy to fall victim to.
However, there are plenty of ways to still keep up with TikTok trends and seasonal styles sustainably without breaking the bank. Whether you’re looking for a new pair of classic shades or summer dress that’s hot on the socials, shopping sustainably can still be an easy choice. Embracing upcycling and second-hand clothing marketplaces like Vinted are just a few eco-friendly ways to keep your wardrobe up to scratch for less.
While your contribution may feel small, each clothing choice you make brings us one step closer to a sustainable tomorrow.