By Year 11 student Sophie on the effects of ‘Fast Fashion’.
Fashion affects us all. We have no choice but to purchase new items of clothing and accessories in order to go about our everyday lives. We do, however, have a choice to make the right decisions about the sources of our clothing in order to minimise the damage that we have on the environment and other people living in it.
The increase of bulk supplies for cheap prices in different parts of the world is leading to an ideology of a ‘disposable’ fashion. For some people, buying items at bargain prices then throwing them out as soon as they are out of fashion is more economical. Perhaps this is the case for their wallet, however, on a worldwide scale, ‘cheap’ fashion comes at a much greater cost.
There are many factors which contribute to fashion not being ethical:
Social addresses the treatment of workers, many of whom are children. These people are exploited and often abused, working long hours for as little as less than $3 per day. Their poor standard of living and their low wages are often reflective of the cheap prices that their items are purchased for on the high street.
This type of fashion production also has an environmental effect. The use of chemicals in clothing production leaves the fashion industry with the title of the second largest polluter, after the oil industry. These chemicals are often toxic, hence harming the environment, and sometimes the people wearing them if they transfer onto the skin. Furthermore, the production of one pair of jeans takes approximately 2,000 gallons of water, this is equivalent to 50 bathtubs full. The huge consumption of water for fashion needs is causing disruption to marine life.
Some suppliers also disregard the humane treatment of animals in order to produce their clothing items. If a brand chooses to use animal products such as wool, fur, silk or leather this is often sourced from slaughterhouses or fur farms. Factory-farming deprives animals of basics rights and they are stored in overcrowded conditions according to PETA.
What can we do to change this issue?
One of the most important things that we can do is spread awareness of the importance of ethical fashion, something which is often disguised by fashion producers. This is why we have chosen to focus on how damaging ‘cheap’ fashion is in our fashion show. All of the clothing to be used in our show is either responsibly sourced, handmade by one of our students, or recycled.
It is also easy and cost-efficient to buy second-hand clothes, for example, from a charity shop for yourself.
Although making some of your own items of clothing is difficult, however for some possible, we can easily up-cycle items which we no longer like or are out of fashion as these items often require little adaptation. This will help the current clothing waste issue; in the UK alone, £140 million worth of used but wearable clothing is dumped in a landfill.
If you do decide to get rid of some clothes, always donate them as they can be used by someone in need. Doing this will not only prevent clothing waste, however, also help someone. CHS plays its part in clothing recycling through ‘Bag2School’, an organisation which raises funds for the school. Bag2School pays £0.40 per kg of clothes donated. The organisation benefits the circular economy by collecting and selling our unwanted textiles to importers and wholesalers across the globe.
Do not make unnecessary purchases, this is a huge issue as an estimated £10 billion worth of clothes purchased in the UK are left in our wardrobes unworn.
Holding onto clothes a little longer can majorly reduce the damage to the environment. According to wrap.org.uk, the average lifetime of a clothing garment is 2.2 years, simply increasing this amount by 9 months can significantly help the planet.
This is possible if:
The buyer learns the basic ability to fix their clothes or pays to get them repaired.
They look after the garment, for example following the care instructions when washing.
They accept that the same item of clothing may have to be worn repeatedly.
And, of course, purchasing from ethical brands. This doesn’t have to come at a great expense, a brand such as Primark has provided information about their factories, other companies who chose to disguise this should be avoided as they are most likely trying to cover up maltreatment of workers.
Paying higher prices for clothing certainly doesn’t ensure that they are more ethical.
We can find out just how ethical our favourite brands are through the use of apps such as ‘Good On You’ which reveal the way in which a company makes their clothing, such as their treatment of workers, use of chemicals, safety in factories etc.
Similarly, to the victims of slave labour in ‘cheap’ fashion, people in the UK suffer from mental health problems as a result of modern-day stress and responsibilities. This is why we have made the decision to fundraise in aid of Stockport and District Mind.
Mental health issues are commonly neglected in our modern society, however, one in five people will attempt to commit suicide at some point in their life. Disregard of mental health problems is a factor leading to this. Being mentally unwell is likely to affect us all, according to who.int, one in four people will be affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives.
Stockport and District Mind is a charity which helps our community significantly. They provide services to those struggling to cope with their Mental Health problem:
£5.00 – Would help them to provide information and relevant support to a suicidal caller over the phone (saving a life).
£10.00 – Would help them spend time with a distressed person who drops into their office.
£15.00 – Would allow Mind to signpost 5 people requiring support to relevant organisations, community groups, etc.
£30.00 – Would help pay for someone to receive support from a mental health professional or Carers Support Worker.
£500.00 – Would pay for a 10 week confidence course, up to 12 people per course, which could greatly improve people’s self-esteem.