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By Ellie Richards


Tsunamis, wildfires, earthquakes – it really does seem like the end of times. We can all admit – except for one President whom shall remain nameless – that climate change is the driving force. It’s about time that we in the fashion industry take responsibility for the affects we’ve had on our planet. Whether or not you are part of the industry, everyone’s a consumer, therefore we are all a part of the problem. This global $3 trillion industry has become the second most polluting business after oil, accounting for 10% of global carbon emissions. How can we help? The best way is through awareness, acknowledging the facts and then making the conscious decision to better your planet. So, in this feature, we’re going to explore and analyse the horrors of sustainability in fashion, hoping these newly released statistics will scare you as much as they do us, and re-think your marketing tactics.

Buying high-end isn’t an option for most of us, therefore it’s likely most of our readers have bought into fast fashion. Fast fashion, for those who don’t know, is the mass production of inexpensive and low-quality clothes for single/short purpose use. These clothes can be found in places like Primark, and generally don’t last long due to the quality. We’ve all heard the scandals about un-ethical production in third world countries, however we rarely consider the process. The facts are that more than 150 billion garments are produced annually, “enough to provide 20 new garments to every person on the planet every year”. Furthermore, just to make this fact worse, Americans on average throw away approximately 70 lbs of clothing per person every year. In the UK, this number is no better, with 235m items of clothing sent to  landfill last year. The incredible amount of waste production from fast fashion is diminishing the raw products that the industry relies so much on. 

However, the production of materials is actually far worse for the environment than clothes being discarded. Think about this, a single t-shirt uses 2,700 litres of water to make. Not only is this incredibly wasteful of water, but the fibres from the raw materials used and dyes are extremely toxic. The companies producing so much clothing rarely have time to effectively monitor how waste waters are taken care of, meaning these chemicals end up washing off into the ocean. This also happens in our own washing machines, as these companies lack knowledge on durability and longevity in fibres, leaving approximately 700,00 fibres released in a single wash. This effects every living thing, as humans,  plants and animals all need ocean water to survive. The fashion industry causes 17-20% of pollution in fresh water, not only through the production of clothes but through farming of their raw materials – farmer use large amounts of pesticides and GMO’s (toxic chemicals) which then run into streams and rivers, or eaten by livestock. Humans drink this polluted water, and eat animals contaminated by pesticides. According to information from NOAA, the oceans are worse off than ever, “an ocean dead zone is extremely low-oxygen areas in the world’s oceans, lake ways, and rivers caused by excessive pollution from human activity depleting oxygen required to support most marine life in the water.”

After all of this – we can change, and it’s already begun. In 2015, The Paris Agreement was a landmark in combatting climate change, to “accelerate and intensify the actions and investments needed for a low carbon future”. While this is helping to encourage companies into more ethical farming and production of clothing, we too can help on the smaller scale. Try to stay away from fast fashion, single use items and cheap labour. Anything from using less water by showering, hand washing dishes and low-temperature “sports wash” controls on your machine helps on a large scale. Vegetarianism, if you can hack it, helps remove the consumption of pesticides, CO2 emissions through cattle farming and plastic packaging production. We can all help. Sustainability might be “boring” in the age of consumption, but the human race can no longer carry on in this trajectory, hence the Gen Z activism of the Extinction Rebellion, which is still going strong. Remember, from our last post about the consumer power of Gen Z, it may be wiser to stay on their good side if you want this power cohort to choose your brand to support over rivals. Set yourself apart, and save the planet.

Key Takeaways

  • Buy less, Buy better – consider your purchases more carefully so that you buy higher quality garments, that last longer.
  • Re-use, Recycle, Repurpose – try clothes swaps, shop at the charity store to bag a bargain and help the environment and mend or repurpose tired or used garments.
  • Styling – go on Youtube, read fashion magazine and learn how to bring current styling trends into your current wardrobe. With a bit of creativity you can transform clothes from previous years into looking new and on trend.

Recently Slingshot partnered with Fashion Events and Production to launch a new platform, SUPER SUPER SUPER to support emerging and established creatives, to give a voice to a more diverse sector of the creative industries and to bring spirit into the overall mix.

One of the key cornerstones of the launch event on September 16, 2019 was to promote sustainable designers, including Amber Kim, a Portobello Green vintage showcase  and artist/designer Marty Thornton.

Photos by Crispian Blaize – https://www.instagram.com/crispian_blaize_photography/

Main image featuring J’Adore La Vie


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