Fast Fashion in the High Street
Fast fashion high street brands who have their stock manufactured abroad are having a devastating impact on our planet!
In recent years we all know that plastic has become a major concern, but other polluters like the fast fashion industry are being ignored.
Cotton, for example, may not sound like a polluter, but the cotton production process uses pesticides in the farming stage and toxic dyes in the manufacturing stage.
But even more damaging is the way in which the production process uses huge amounts of natural resources, eg. water! Apparently it can take over 15,000 litres of water to grow the cotton just to make one pair of jeans!
This was revealed in an article by Stacey Dooley entitled 'Are your clothes wrecking the planet?' in which Stacey reveals how cotton production abroad, her example being Kazakhstan, has severely damaged the environment.
In the 1960s Kazakhstan was home to the Aral Sea which covered 68k square km, which has now shrunk to a desert of dust with roaming camels.
The river Amu Darya which originally led to the sea was diverted into cotton production farms causing these devastating consequences.
Chemical waste discarded during the manufacturing process is also a major issue within the cheap clothing fast fashion industry.
As Stacey Dooley reveals in her article, the Republic of Indonesia is an international centre for cheap clothes production, and the chemical waste poured out into the rivers by factories is environmentally devastating.
So why is this happening?
The high street shops are introducing new lines on a regular basis. No longer is it one collection per season.
They produce catwalk filtered down copies at affordable, sometimes ridiculously cheap, prices. Buyers are tempted into updating their wardrobe on a regular basis.
The result? We are buying far more than we need.
We are throwing away clothing at a faster rate due to the new choices available and the cheap quality as well!
And the result of this fast fashion habit is having a damaging impact on our planet.
Save Our Planet
Of course, there are the environmentally friendly manufacturers who are paying attention to what is happening and trying to solve the problem.
Stacey tells us that the brand Levi's are conscientiously sharing information on how to reduce the water footprint of their cotton.
They are recycling old garments to produce a new fibre which looks and feels like cotton, but has zero water impact.
And you will have read dyeing and spinning expert, Karen Boyce's articles here on my blog. Karen uses local wool and dyes from foraging in nature to produce amazing yarns.
As Stacey says in her article: "It's a situation that needs addressing - and fast. There has to be a sense of urgency now because to be totally honest with you, we're running out of time."
So as individuals what can we do now to help?
1. Buy less, but buy quality
For every 10 cheap garments why not buy one which is better quality.
Yes, it will be more expensive, but it will last at least 10 times longer saving us money in the end.
If we actually sort through our wardrobes there are probably items in there that we rarely wear as we've forgotten that they're there!
It's actually quite empowering to know what we have in our wardrobes and be able to wear those select pieces in a mix and match fashion.
All this takes is a bit of organising. And of course, good quality clothing not only lasts longer, but looks so much better!
We need to buy less!
Remember the 'hand me downs'?
Well actually recycling is the latest thing. Clothes swapping, charity shop bargains, recycling materials to make new items - all great ideas.
Recycle Clothes Bin
2. Buy from local makers
There are so many crafters out there who are struggling to find a market for their lovingly hand made garments. There will be many local to you.
As they struggle many of them will be offering their products at lower prices than they are actually worth. But you can bet they will be far better quality than cheap shop fashion!
And many are now choosing to use materials that are environmentally friendly.
At the same time, you will be supporting your local community, or cottage crafters in general.
Locally Hand Made Clothing
3. Learn to become a maker
As awareness of the damage that the fast fashion cheap clothes market is doing grows, more people are turning to cottage craft products.
We've seen the rise of farm shops with natural and organic produce over the years.
You only have to look at online stores such as Etsy or Folksy to witness the expanding market for handmade products.
We can all support that. But why not turn your hobby into a business? Or learn a new skill? Work from home? Become a cottage crafter? Just a thought :)
In the 1980s when I was expecting, I left my career and swapped my knitting needles for a knitting machine. I haven't looked back.
Ok, my business now involves mainly publishing knitting patterns, but I still love the practical side of my business - the knitting. And of course, I have plenty of knitted samples on my rails!
On the Rails
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Speak soon. Marianne x