The first step of my sustainable journey was to drastically change how I shopped. I was a sucker for fast fashion. I’d spend money ordering clothes online that I would only wear once, or buy cheap products that wouldn’t last. Although shops like Primark and H&M might seem appealing with their low prices, they are actually hiding a rather dark secret. Sure, everyone knows about sweatshops and the unethical conditions the employees are made to work in, but what you don’t know, and what I was unaware of, are the huge environmental implications.Did you know that the world, in total, now consumes around 80,000,000,000 (that’s 80 billion) new pieces of clothing a year? And did you know that only 10% of discarded clothing goes to charity shops or second-hand clothing stores? The other 90% ends up in landfill. Now, what about all the chemical treatment processes the materials go through before they are made into garments? Well, cotton takes a hell of a lot of water to grow, and cotton production is responsible for 18% of world pesticide use and 25% of world insecticide use. As well as being woven into the garments, these harmful chemicals are either washed into waterways by rain or absorbed into the soil where they affect other plants, animals, and foods.
After watching The True Cost I decided the best option would be to start looking in my cupboard and wearing the clothes I already owned, and if I did want something then to properly think about whether I would wear it again. I now rather buy second-hand clothes from charity shops and vintage fairs or through selling apps like Depop and eBay. I also decided that if I really wanted a new item of clothing I would save up and spend extra money to buy from a small independent business. This way I can make sure my money goes to a company that cares about ethically sourcing their materials and paying their employees a fair wage.
Although fast fashion may be cheap, it could end up costing us the world.