The term ‘Fast Fashion’ is used to describe clothing & accessories produced, sold, worn and often disposed of.. you guessed it.. fast. How fast? So fast that Australia is sending 6,000kg of clothing to landfill every 10 minutes. That comes from manufacturers throwing away textile waste, retailers throwing away unsold stock and everyone else throwing away clothes from their closet. This incredible amount of waste contributes to a range of earth destroying processes like greenhouse gas production, leaching of toxic chemicals and the release of micro-plastics into the ocean. The high demand on production speed and quantity means that while fast fashion clothing is cheap it comes at the cost of being made low quality and with little consideration for environmental impacts and the sometimes-fatal conditions for the people who make it.
It’s not just the manufacturers and retailers that are fighting to keep up. Consumers can also feel the pressure to stay up-to date. We have the expectation that every time we shop, in-store or online we will find something we have never seen before – even on a day to day basis. And we can. Clever marketing tells us that new things will make us happier, smarter, better looking, more successful... the list goes on. Often, we fall for it. But the excitement of something new doesn’t last long and so we fall into a cycle of buying, wearing once or twice, throwing away and buying again. Always chasing the thrill of having that hot new thing. It’s a perpetual cycle that is very hard to break. It’s bad for the planet, bad for the people who make it, bad for our bank accounts and bad for our mental health.
It’s also a catch-22 as we humans need to be clothed to go about our daily lives. So of course, we can’t be expected to never buy anything ever again. We also can’t expect to keep everything we ever buy for the rest our lives but there are some considerations to be made to try and minimise the footprint our buying habits leave on our fellow people and planet... So what can we do?
1. Take stock; take everything out of your closet. Figure out what you (actually) wear. Give away, donate or sell what you do not. You can even keep a maybe pile – put it away in a cupboard and if you don’t go looking for anything in there for a few months you’re probably safe to let it go. Knowing what you already have and only having what you actually wear will help you make informed buying choices. Use commonalities in style, fit & colour of the things you love to inform future buying. This will help you only buy things you will really wear as well as ensure what you are buying can be worn with what you already have
2. Do your research; before you buy, try and find some information about the brand. Who makes their clothes, where and under what conditions? None of us want to be supporting people or planet hurting practices, often we just don’t realise they are there
3. If you can invest; buying quality items from ethical/sustainable brands that are designed to be loved for a long time is a great fast-fashion-cycle-breaker. This will help you consider if you’ll really wear it, incentivise you to take care of it & for most of us slow down your buying frequency as items with ethical and sustainable practices can tend to have a higher price point
4. If you can’t invest; If spending more on ethical/sustainable items isn’t a realistic or accessible option for you, that’s okay. You can still assess and sim to slow your buying, work towards shopping for longevity (buying things you’ll keep and wear for a long time) and take care of what you already own
5. UNFOLLOW; We’ve all been there. One minute you’re liking photos of someone’s new puppy (do NOT unfollow this person) and the next you’re clicking CHECK OUT for that thing you suddenly realised you absolutely cannot live without even though 5 minutes ago you didn’t even know it existed. Clean out your [social media platform of choice] and unfollow brands, influencers, stores etc. selling things that no longer align with your values. Instead, replace them with activists, non-profit organisation, small businesses and ethical/sustainable stores & brands and lots and lots of cute animal accounts
Have you got any other great ideas or resources? Share with us @thegoodlookstore on Instagram
Good on You App https://goodonyou.eco/
Fashion Revolution Aus & NZ https://www.fashionrevolution.org/
Ethical Clothing Australia https://ethicalclothingaustralia.org.au/
The True Cost (Netflix)
Tidying Up with Marie Kondo (Netflix)
War on Waste, Episode 3 (ABC)
The Dirty Side of the Garment Industry: Fast Fashion and Its Negative Impact on Environment and Society, Nikolay Anguelov, 2016
Stitched Up: The Anti-Capitalist Book of Fashion, Tansy E. Hoskins
The Guardian view of ultra cheap clothes: costly to society, The Guardian
Wear Your Values