The Shocking Impact of Fast Fashion and Ways to Build a More Ethical Wardrobe

Did you know that it takes 15,000 litres of water to make just one pair of jeans?

No. I didn’t either until one morning while watching Dan Walker & Louise Minchin on BBC Breakfast - cup of tea and cereal bowl in hand - a feature with Liz Bonnin made me sit up and take notice.

Like me, you may have got caught up in the Glitz and the Glam that is London Fashion week but whilst we were mesmerised by the fabulous fashion on the catwalks, BBC Earth premiered their film “Sustainable Fashion” to jolt us out of our comfort zone and show us just how damaging our desire for fast fashion really is.

Vivienne Westwood is renowned for her leading role in ethical and sustainable fashion. She says 'this is not charity, this is work'

Vivienne Westwood is renowned for her leading role in ethical and sustainable fashion. She says 'this is not charity, this is work'

3 out of every 5 outfits purchased worldwide are never worn and end up in landfill sites within less than 12 months of manufacture - shocking!! I am still reeling from this one statistic. 

The Fashion Industry is the second largest polluter in the world, second only to the oil industry and is the highest ranked industry for water waste. Most of that water waste containing dyes and chemicals used to colour and clean garments is pumped into the worlds river systems and oceans causing massive pollution.

Given that it is Mother Earth that provides so much of the inspiration for fashion isn’t it ironic that Fast Fashion is suffocating our environment?

It’s not too late to make a meaningful change - and we can be part of that change. Nature’s power of regeneration is remarkable. As the murmurs for a sustainable planet grow louder and clearer many of us are looking at how we live our lives and the choices we make. Choices of what we wear, where we purchase from and how frequently can all have a big impact on the future of our Planet.

An ‘all party” parliamentary committee has been formed to look into the fashion industry and its questionable ethics and surprise, surprise a link has been established between ‘cheap’ fashion and the little amount of times a garment is worn. The reasons for this are simple - cheap clothes are not valued by the purchaser and cheap clothes don’t wash well! The Fashion Industry needs to take a good hard look at itself and make changes for the better and so do we.

Perhaps though before we just jump from “fast fashion” to “sustainable fashion” we should take a look at our shopping habits…

Here are some of our Eco Fashion Tips;

  1. Do you need it? - Do we really need a new outfit every Saturday night? Would we really die of embarrassment if we were seen in the same outfit twice?

  2. Research - Learn more about where your clothes come from.

  3. Buy Second Hand - before purchasing brand new, try looking for the item second hand.

  4. Eco Friendly Fabrics - H&M Concious Exclusive, Asos Eco Edit, Lindex, Madebywave, Iandme, People Tree, Veja are all worth a visit. Even Primark are looking at introducing more sustainable ranges. 

  5. Shop Local - Locally produced products have a lower carbon footprint.

  6. Choose Quality - Buy well-made items that are built to last.

  7. Bring a Reusable Bag.

  8. Say No to Packaging - Some shops like to wrap products in tissue paper but this is just wasteful.

  9. Wash Less - Much of a garments environmental impact occurs after purchase. Only wash when needed (but don’t be smelly).

  10. Make it Last - Treat your items with care. If we invested more in a capsule wardrobe that could withstand the test of time we would value those items and feel great wearing them.

Maybe we could also trade outfits with friends or hold “clothes swop” parties once or twice a year. We would not only be kinder to our bank balance and the planet we would also benefit from that “feel good” factor.

Working at developing a sustainable wardrobe is likely to take time and effort and any more tips and suggestions may help us all in achieving this - we would love to hear from our readers with their own experiences for a healthier relationship with fashion and perhaps we can establish a sustainable fashion forum on our site to benefit us all.