People. Planet. Profit. – Sustainability and Fast Fashion
7th May 2020
Affordable, trendy clothing has always been a hit with shoppers. The fast fashion industry has given consumers an instant access to a variety of clothes. As a society, we’re obsessed with consumption. This hunger creates an unsustainable demand where brands have to deliver a constant output of clothes at low prices. The price? Huge pressure and damage on our natural world. Here at Sacet, we believe brands can move fashion towards a more sustainable approach, through a re-evaluation of our collective priorities.
The speed of fast fashion
There’s no question we need to slow down fast fashion. People are buying more and more clothes. In fact, since 2012, there has been a 10% increase in the amount of clothes purchased in the UK.
It has been predicted that by 2030, the industry’s water consumption will grow by 50% to 118 billion cubic metres, and its carbon footprint will increase to 2,971m tonnes. Although many brands, such as H&M, are making significant efforts to minimise their environmental impact – the above prediction still makes for grave reading.
We need to change our habits and present sustainable alternatives. There is fortunately a growing interest in sustainability. For example, an increasing number of clothing brands are now using organic cotton. The industry is trying to reduce the environmental impact, but consumers still want their products quickly.
Fast fashion is hard to resist, but the speed at which clothes are produced, consumed and disposed of, has a massive impact on the environment. One of the most obvious impacts of fast fashion is the pollution of natural water sources through dyes and toxic chemicals. Waste is also a problem, both at the pre-consumer and post-consumer end of the fast fashion cycle. Fast fashion has a dramatic effect on the producers of the clothing, too. Many of these workers are unable to earn a living wage and work in poor factory conditions.
It’s important we buy better quality clothing and recycle them. Adidas is an example of a brand paving the way for sustainable innovation. This year, Adidas launched running sneakers made from recycled ocean plastics. If we all make small changes, brands and consumers alike, we can minimise our carbon footprint on a global scale. Several commentators, NGOs and academics believe ethical, slow fashion will gradually become the norm. But for that to happen, consumers need to be more considerate of the clothes they buy.
What shoppers can do
One of the most effective things consumers can do is buy less and recycle more. Become a conscious consumer. When you’re out shopping, choose eco-friendly fabrics and clothes labelled as being made with natural materials. We stand at a critical point in time where it’s important to be aware of our planet’s depleting resources. Choosing clothing that’s been ethically crafted is a significant step forward sustainability.
We must move away from society’s throwaway culture and keep our clothing for longer. More brands should aim to design clothing that can be re-cycled into new styles. The fashion industry matters. It employs some of the most skilled artisans around the world. The industry will always be around, so let’s make more sustainable choices to redefine fashion.