Fashion and The Environment
By definition, ‘a highly profitable business model based on replicating catwalk trends and high-fashion designs, and mass-producing them at low cost.’
Great! Another definition. But what does this mean for consumers, for manufacturers, and for the environment around us?
In short, fast fashion results in:
- Cheaply sourced materials
- Mass produced clothing and accessories lining the shelves
- The exploitation of workers on low pay
- Huge production targets
As a global concept, fast fashion is up there as one of our most damaging – and yet still consumers continue to visit these shops and pick up baskets full of cheap and cheerful clothing, only to throw the items away after a few wears.
The damage of ‘fashion’
As part of our i-Style and i-Image Develograms, we spend a great deal of time comparing the value of fashion with the importance of style. While we are wholly team ‘STYLE OVER FASHION’, what our Develograms don’t cover is the environmental impact of fashion as a concept, and the damage that fleeting fashion trends are doing to our natural world – both in driving demand for cheap products and in increasing the amount of textile waste created when that fashion inevitably changes.
And that’s not all.
Think about the average cost of a jumper or a top in a fast fashion high street store. Now compare that with the cost you’d expect from a high quality retailer intent on sustainable style.
This is where it becomes super important to understand different materials.
Fast fashion uses cheap materials like polyester – one of the most common fabrics found in fashion, and one of the biggest environmental culprits of all. Meanwhile those high quality retailers are using genuine wool and real silk – materials which cost a great deal more to obtain and use in manufacturing, meaning the amount of stock produced is limited. This may drive the cost of the end product up, but isn’t that better than the polyester alternative?
Still not sure? How about this…
Did you know… Every time you wash a polyester item of clothing, the fabric sends tiny microfibres into your water system, which eventually runs out into the ocean. These microfibres are as damaging as plastic, as they do not biodegrade and so they simply exist in the oceans and waterways; being sucked into the food chain by plankton and then smaller fish and even shellfish. Do you see where we’re going with this. Yes, they eventually end up in our own foods too, as we take those fish and shellfish directly from the ocean for use in our own dishes and meals.
So, what can we do?
Here at Purple Feather Tree, we are all about prioritising quality over quantity.
This essentially means investing in a limited amount of high quality items which will not only withstand the test of time, but which are selected to serve your lifestyle needs.
What we aim to do is draw people away from the idea of buying a cheap dress for one occasion; opting instead to invest in a slightly more expensive, higher quality piece which can be worn again and again.
Of course, there are items where it makes sense to cut your budget and purchase more items for a lower sum of expense: for example, vest tops, hosiery, socks, and plain t-shirts. However, it is important to always weigh up the environmental impact of these items and ascertain how long they will last and how important they are as part of your staple wardrobe. For example, if you work in an office every weekday and always wear a vest top under your blouse, surely investing in some high quality vest tops which will last, is a more sustainable and cost effective solution than tops which fall apart after a couple of wears?
The world is now full of eco-friendly products, from vegan leather alternatives to sustainably sourced and manufactured clothing, through to environmentally friendly washing products. The choices you make should serve both you and your world, and for us that means making a conscious effort to choose brands which you know source their materials fairly and sustainably wherever possible.
Finally, let’s end this article with a single, life-changing fact: one likely to shock even the most environmentally minded of our followers. Did you know that it takes 2700 litres of water to make a single cotton t-shirt?
Remember that, next time you pay a few pounds for a t-shirt and then proceed to wear it only once or twice before assigning it to the ‘bin’ pile…