Ok, so let's first talk about what fast fashion is. Fast fashion is when clothing is produced quickly and cheaply, often being able to have new designs in store just weeks after being designed. The business model is based on high volume and turnover of stock.
The main problem with the fast fashion industry is the sheer volume of clothing it produces - 1 billion garments annually! Sophisticated marketing and the high turnover of stock drives consumers on to the next trend in order to buy ever more. Considering that fast fashion is predicted toincrease 60% by the year 2030 this is not sustainable when we all need to be buying less (of everything) to save our planet. The truth is we don't actually need any more clothes at all, we have more than enough to go round already, but fast fashion taps in to the desire for the new 'must have' and the affordable 'don't miss it' offer.
Aside from a few small conscious ranges, most fast fashion garments are made with synthetic fabrics which are responsible for 0.6 – 1.7 million tons of microfibres end up in the ocean every year. We all know from The Blue Planet II what the impact of plastics is on our sea life, but the fibres also end up in our drinking water and in our food as they do not biodegrade like natural fibres. The fast fashion industry is also responsible for producing 20% of global wastewater. The dwindling resources on our planet cannot sustain such turnover of 'stuff' driven by company policies based on growth and expansion; new stores, emerging markets, ever more lines. The industry emits1.2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent per year which is about 5% of global emissions - more than air travel and international shippingemissions combined. Much of this will come from the thousands of fashion miles that are incurred when the products travel across the world to get to our stores.
Most fast fashion (97%) is produced in far off countries which have extremely low wages. Low price fashion often means unethical practices and little transparency. The prices we pay in a fast fashion store do not reflect the true cost of what someone should have been paid, nor the resources used and the environmental damage done. Large fast fashion brands have incredible power, which puts pressure on developing countries to provide goods at rock bottom prices and cut corners on health and safety in order to keep the orders coming in. The speed of production can also lead to long working hours and extreme pressure to hit impossible deadlines. The Rana Plaza tragedy is a prime example of this.
Some fast fashion brands have sustainability schemes such as H&M's 'Closed loop' and ''recycling' schemes. However, with current technologies, it would take 12 years to recycle what the fast fashion industry creates in 48 hours. It is also unclear about how much of these unwanted garments actually get recycled or reused. This seems to be a marketing idea rather than a solution, as it still takes energy and resources to recycle. What happens to what cannot be recycled? The worry here is that so much low grade fast fashion is going out to African countries that their local textiles industries are collapsing. Clothing recycling as with household recycling makes us believe that it's ok to keep consuming at the rate we are without considering it's impact.
The Environmental Audit Committee's inquiry into the sustainability of the fashion industry had one main conclusion and that is we need to value our clothes. And high street and fast fashion does not necessarily mean low quality if you choose good pieces that are classic and look after them. However, the majority of fast fashion is not designed for longevity which is one of the principles of circular fashion.
So, I don't believe that fast fashion can be sustainable because of all these issues. Can the big fast fashion brands change their way of working and become more sustainable? Maybe, but I doubt they would want to jeopardise their bottom line. So don't be fooled by clever initiatives and green-washing or that at least they are trying. There are so many other ethical and sustainable brands that deserve our attention that are doing so much more.
#fastfashion #sustainablefashion #ethicalfashion
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It's been nearly 6 months since I wrote my first post on how to save the planet. Since then I have learnt a whole lot more on climate issues, become a climate activist myself and frighteningly the climate emergency has sped up a great deal. So I felt strongly that I had to go back and rewrite my suggestions in light of all this.
As I write the Arctic is experiencing the worst wildfires and fast melting ever seen and across the globe historical temperature records have been broken. I have become aware of all the dangerous feedback effects that are not even taken into consideration in the IPCC reports and global emissions are still rising despite all the Paris Accord pledges. So, If like me you are worried about all these things and want to do something about it, here is my list of suggestions in order of importance:
30 years of inaction by leaders and rising emissions despite agreements, petitions, marches and polite letters to MPs go to show these methods are totally ineffective."Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will". Non violent direct action and civil disobedience has proven to be the most effective way to bring about change according to research and it only needs 3.4% of the population to be successful. No matter what you think of Extinction Rebellion, they have been more successful in the last 6 months in increasing public discourse on the climate crisis than most green groups have been in their entire existence. However, massive changes need to start happening to save our planet and they need to happen now, so more direct action is necessary.
I am sure you are all well aware of how "a vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth". With an ever growing global population, agricultural land is becoming scarcer and climate changes are already seriously affecting food production. Our oceans are being devastated by pollution and overfishing and animal agriculture contributes massively to methane emissions. But aside from all that, a vegan diet is the most healthy diet there is and sentient creatures don't have to suffer and die for it. So even reducing meat and dairy can have a high impact and the wide variety of vegan options available now make it an easy choice.
"If aviation was a country, it would be the 7th worst polluter globally". Frequent flying and long haul flights cause significant carbon emissions (aside from the pollution). A return flight from London to New York will result in the loss of 6.6m2 of arctic ice, which is the earth's natural climate regulator. The rise of budget airlines and cheap flights have been enabled by the fact that airline fuel carries no duty and flights do not have VAT added on like with other forms of transport. This added to the lack of investment into public transport has now created the biazarre situation where it is often cheaper to fly somewhere than get the train. This needs to change and fast and reducing your own air travel will go way some way towards this.
Many pension schemes and savings accounts are invested in fossil fuel companies or other unethical and polluting projects. Withdrawing your hard earned cash or putting pressure on the financial institutions to divest from such areas makes a big statement and hits big companies where it hurts. As "100 companies are responsible for 71% of global emissions" of which fossil fuels companies are the highest emitters, they are the ones that need to change the most. Because as long as they are still making billions in profit as well as receiving £10.5 billion subsidies in the UK they won't change a thing.
There have been various legal cases against governments and fossil fuels companies in regard to climate change and some are still on going, but without an international law covering loss, damage and destruction to ecosystems, justice is rarely done. The late UK barrister, Polly Higgins, dedicated her life to getting ecocide made law and her team are still working hard to achieve it. If the legal case can be passed then CEOS and government ministers could be held criminally responsible for the damage they have caused. You can contribute to their legal team and support activistshere and become an earth protector too.
Taking real action in the face of climate catastrophe can really help with eco-anxiety, beacuse as Greta Thunberg says "once we start to act hope is everywhere" so I hope you will join me in doing whatever you can.
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#climateactivism #divestment #ecocide #flightfree
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