A group of five in a shopping centre with shopping bags

Shun Fast Fashion



Shun Fast Fashion

 

“The most environmentally sustainable jacket is the one that’s already in your closet”


— Patagonia’s Chief Product Officer Lisa Williams

  1.  
  2. 1. Fast Fashion, a toxic industry
  3. 2. Consume Consciously
  4. 3. Buy cheap, Pay twice
  5. 4. Washing Clothes Consciously
  6. 5. Sourcing Second Hand & Don’t Dispose!

“The most environmentally sustainable jacket is the one that’s already in your closet”

— Patagonia’s Chief Product Officer Lisa Williams

  1. 1. Fast Fashion, a toxic industry
  2. 2. Consume Consciously
  3. 3. Buy cheap, Pay twice
  4. 4. Washing Clothes Consciously
  5. 5. Sourcing Second Hand & Don’t Dispose!

Fast Fashion, a toxic industry

Fast fashion refers to inexpensive throw-away clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends, which on average are worn less than 5 times and kept for just 35 days.

Second only to oil and animal agriculture, the fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world. Not only generating 10% of all global CO2 emissions but facilitating deforestation on a grand scale. Over 70 million trees are cut each year to produce cheaper fabrics such as rayon, viscose, modal and lyocell.

The industry is also the second-biggest consumer and polluter of water, producing 20% of wastewater containing toxic colouring dyes. Not to mention the 92 million tons of solid waste dumped in landfills each year, and the plastic microfibers (up to 700,000 microfibres released in a single domestic wash) entering our waterways and oceans on a daily basis.

A boy standing in a polluted river caused by the production of fast fashion

Fast Fashion, a toxic industry

Fast fashion refers to inexpensive throw-away clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends, which on average are worn less than 5 times and kept for just 35 days.

Second only to oil and animal agriculture, the fashion industry is one of the biggest polluters in the world. Not only generating 10% of all global CO2 emissions but facilitating deforestation on a grand scale. Over 70 million trees are cut each year to produce cheaper fabrics such as rayon, viscose, modal and lyocell.

A boy standing in a polluted river caused by the production of fast fashion

The industry is also the second-biggest consumer and polluter of water, producing 20% of wastewater containing toxic colouring dyes. Not to mention the 92 million tons of solid waste dumped in landfills each year, and the plastic microfibers (up to 700,000 microfibres released in a single domestic wash) entering our waterways and oceans on a daily basis.

Consume Consciously

Consume consciously and responsibly by reading the labels before you purchase. More and more fashion brands are accountable to the environmental and social impact of their production so be sure to look for natural and organic fibres, non-toxic dyes, take-back programs, and ethical production.

A climber at the crag with climbing gear
A climber at the crag with climbing gear

Consume Consciously

Consume consciously and responsibly by reading the labels before you purchase. More and more fashion brands are accountable to the environmental and social impact of their production so be sure to look for natural and organic fibres, non-toxic dyes, take-back programs, and ethical production.

Garments of recycled content are often the best solution, as it reduces the pressure on virgin resources and tackles the growing problem of waste management. E.g. Patagonia was the first outdoor clothing brand to make their polyester fleece out of recycled plastic bottles.

A neon advertising board reading 'Amazing Fashion, Amazing Prices'

Cheap clothing doesn't exit, it will always cost someone or somewhere

Buy Cheap, Pay Twice

Choose quality over quantity to extend the lifetime of your wardrobe. Check the stitching is strong by gently pulling at the seams to see if the garment holds well. Check the stretch by lightly stretching the fabric to see whether the item maintains or loses its shape.  Go for a metal zipper, they are usually more robust. YKK zips are normally a sign of quality. Fabric patterns should always match up with the seams. If not, little care has been taken in its production, suggesting an inferior garment. Finally, check the thickness of the fabric by holding the garment up to the light. Thicker fabrics are generally of greater quality.

A close up photo of a YKK zip on a pair of blue jeans
A man putting a guppy bag full of clothes into a washing machine

Washing Clothes Consciously

Washing our clothes has a significant environmental impact. In fact, between 75 and 80 percent of our clothing’s lifecycle impact comes from washing and drying. Using an efficient machine can save you up to 50,000 litres per year.

Wash with full loads, using a green detergent and on lower temperatures. Also consider purchasing a Guppy Friend Wash Bag. In tests, the bag captured 99% of fibres released in the washing process. Patagonia are soon to be selling them for $20-30.

Sourcing Second Hand & Don't Dispose!

Instead of buying new clothing consider buying second hand from charity shops or websites such as Vinted or Oxfam Online. Alternatively, consider swapping clothes with friends, family, neighbours or attending a clothes swap meet, which are becoming more popular in most major cities.

Don’t dispose of your clothes in normal bins! Most garments consist of synthetic, non-biodegradable fibres and will just pile up in the landfill emitting toxic CO2 and methane emissions. Instead, try to mend or customize your existing clothing, a little bit of imagination can go a long way. Alternatively, donate to friends, family, neighbours or a charity shop. However, if you have no choice but to dispose, ensure to recycle your garments in a textiles recycling bin.

A girl browsing for clothing in a second hand shop

Buying second-hand clothes helps to slow the ferocious fast-fashion industry.

Garments of recycled content are often the best solution, as it reduces the pressure on virgin resources and tackles the growing problem of waste management. E.g. Patagonia was the first outdoor clothing brand to make their polyester fleece out of recycled plastic bottles.

Buy Cheap, Pay Twice

Cheap clothing doesn't exist, it will always cost somebody or somewhere.

Choose quality over quantity to extend the lifetime of your wardrobe. Check the stitching is strong by gently pulling at the seams to see if the garment holds well. Check the stretch by lightly stretching the fabric to see whether the item maintains or loses its shape.  Go for a metal zipper, they are usually more robust. YKK zips are normally a sign of quality.

A close up photo of a YKK zip on a pair of blue jeans

Fabric patterns should always match up with the seams. If not, little care has been taken in its production, suggesting an inferior garment. Finally, check the thickness of the fabric by holding the garment up to the light. Thicker fabrics are generally of greater quality.

A man in the street repairing shoes and trainers

Reducing Your Footprint

WRAP found that by extending the average life of clothes and footwear by just three months per item, from 2 years and 2 months to 2 years and 5 months, would lead to a 5–10% reduction in each of the carbon, water and waste footprints.


 

Washing Clothes Consciously

Washing our clothes has a significant environmental impact. In fact, between 75 and 80 percent of our clothing’s lifecycle impact comes from washing and drying. Using an efficient machine can save you up to 50,000 litres per year.

A man putting a guppy bag full of clothes into a washing machine

Wash with full loads, using a green detergent and on lower temperatures. Also consider purchasing a Guppy Friend Wash Bag. In tests, the bag captured 99% of fibres released in the washing process. Patagonia are soon to be selling them for $20-30.

Sourcing Second Hand & Don't Dispose!

Instead of buying new clothing consider buying second hand from charity shops or websites such as Vinted or Oxfam Online. Alternatively, consider swapping clothes with friends, family, neighbours or attending a clothes swap meet, which are becoming more popular in most major cities.

Don’t dispose of your clothes in normal bins! Most garments consist of synthetic, non-biodegradable fibres and will just pile up in the landfill emitting toxic CO2 and methane emissions. Instead, try to mend or customize your existing clothing, a little bit of imagination can go a long way. Alternatively, donate to friends, family, neighbours or a charity shop. However, if you have no choice but to dispose, ensure to recycle your garments in a textiles recycling bin.

Reducing Your Footprint

WRAP found that by extending the average life of clothes and footwear by just three months per item, from 2 years and 2 months to 2 years and 5 months, would lead to a 5–10% reduction in each of the carbon, water and waste footprints

Sources & further reading

✅ for peer reviewed research

  1. 1. “Making Climate Change Fashionable – The Garment Industry Takes On Global Warming” – 1. James Conca – Forbes – forbes.com
  2.  
  3. 2. “STILL IN THE DARK” – OXFAM – oxfam.org.au
  4.  
  5. 3. “Fashion is an environmental and social emergency, but can also drive progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals “UNECE – unece.org
  6.  
  7. 4. “Copenhagen Fashion Summit: How NOT to make the fashion industry more sustainable” Chiara Campione – Greenpeace – greenpeace.org
  8.  
  9. 5. “Fashion clothing – where does it all end up?” – Birtwistle, G. Moore, CM. – International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management – emeraldinsight.com  ✅
  10.  
  11. 6. “Waste Couture: Environmental Impact of the Clothing Industry” – Luz Claudio – Environmental Health Perspectivesncbi.nlm.nih.gov 

Sources & further reading

✅ for peer reviewed research

  1. 1. “Making Climate Change Fashionable – The Garment Industry Takes On Global Warming” – 1. James Conca – Forbes – forbes.com
  2.  
  3. 2. “STILL IN THE DARK” – OXFAM – oxfam.org.au
  4.  
  5. 3. “Fashion is an environmental and social emergency, but can also drive progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals “UNECE – unece.org
  6.  
  7. 4. “Copenhagen Fashion Summit: How NOT to make the fashion industry more sustainable” Chiara Campione – Greenpeace – greenpeace.org
  8.  
  9. 5. “Fashion clothing – where does it all end up?” – Birtwistle, G. Moore, CM. – International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management – emeraldinsight.com  ✅
  10.  
  11. 6. “Waste Couture: Environmental Impact of the Clothing Industry” – Luz Claudio – Environmental Health Perspectivesncbi.nlm.nih.gov