The Fashion climate

According to recent statistics by the UN, it is estimated that fashion is responsible for 8-10% of global emissions with some brands being investigated for their involvement in global warming as a result of the clothes in which they manufacture.

But what is fast fashion and how does it impact the environment?
Fast- fashion is defined as being ‘cheap clothing that can be produced at a fast rate as a response to recent trends.’ The term ‘fast fashion’ is a recent term that describes brands that give us the opportunity to buy clothes at a cheap price whilst keeping up with the latest fashion trends that can change daily as a result of the influence of social media, however, whilst this may seem to be beneficial to those who love fashion, it can cause great damage to the environment, as according to research done by Oxfam, the average person living in Britain has 57 items of un-worn clothing. Now although the clothes we buy at a cheap price may seem like a bargain and a cost-efficient way to maintain a ‘trendy status’, it is important for us to consider the possible consequences on the environment.

The majority of this clothing is made from raw materials, that can release pollution when extracted. An example of a raw material is cotton, the cotton industry is responsible of 2.5% of the world’s farmland, leaving less space for natural species and animal habitats as well as leading to the deforestation of trees to make space for this farmland (when trees are removed it will mean that less carbon dioxide can be absorbed, leaving more in the atmosphere) However, manufacturing of clothes also has an environmental impact, for example when these natural materials are extracted, they are then dyed which requires around tonnes of chemicals, these chemicals can end up in rivers and lakes, damaging the environment and the species within their natural habitat.

Also, the transportation of these items is also a crucial factor that has led to fashion being one of the aspects of society that is contributing to global warming. This is due to the fact that many of the fashion brands have factories in foreign countries due to cheaper labour costs, however this then means that after the products are made, they must be shipped back to the UK for their sale, leading to harmful gases being released. This is also a factor once it has been shipped back to the UK, as the majority of fast fashion brands do not have shops and only offer their products online, therefore meaning further carbon dioxide emissions are released as they are shipped from warehouses in the UK to your house.

How can I help to reduce my purchases of fast fashion items?
As this issue has become more important in society, there has been an increase in young people purchasing vintage items of clothing, this means that you are very unlikely to wear the same item as someone else, have a higher quality item and buy it for similar prices to the items that can be bought from the most well-known fast fashion retailers.

Another increasingly popular is the renting of items, recently, there has been an increase in retailers renting items for specific time periods, allowing people to still conform to the latest trends at a cheap price without damaging the environment.