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by Stacey Adams

The war on throwaway fashion has only just begun

Worries about climate change have recently reached new levels, but is our reliance on quick, cheap clothing contributing to the problem? Stacey Adams discusses the environmental and ethical impact of throwaway fashion.

The war on throwaway fashion has only just begun Subscript

Lately, I am becoming more aware of the types of lifestyles many of us lead. We are very fast paced and always on the go. We look for quick fixes with our food, drink, transport and even with our clothes.

On many an occasion, I have gone shopping with friends, trying on endless mountains of clothes; I usually end up buying most of them, simply because they are so cheap.

However recently I have taken a step back and found that I no longer get the same pleasure out of buying these items. It’s made me question my longstanding shopping habits: why did I feel the need to buy material things? Glossy magazines show the must-haves of the new season, promising that you’ll feel empowered if you buy a certain look – basically, what you wear will define you. Did I fall for the false hope they are selling?

I think the realisation that my pleasure of shopping had vanished, dawned on me when I was having a clear out of my wardrobe. I found items shoved to the back that I had forgotten I had even bought, or had worn only once. I uncovered shoes that I no longer liked the looked of, or that I bought simply for their aesthetic value, knowing full well that they would hurt my feet. After a few days of painful wear, I – annoyed and irritated – chucked them to the back of my wardrobe, never to be touched again.

“Why did I feel the need to buy material things?”

After some time spent going through my fashion abyss, I couldn’t believe how many items I had piled on my bed, ready to give to the charity shop. In the past, I would put a few of the expensive things which were in excellent condition on eBay. However, this is a time consuming and not always a reliable process.

We all enjoy a bargain and get a buzz when we feel we have saved money, yet if we all just took a moment to consider the quality of the product, the poor worker who made it cooped up in some sweatshop earning very little, or even asked ourselves the big question ‘do I actually need it’, I wonder how often we’d put down our potential purchase..?

The war on throwaway fashion has only just begun Subscript

The popular retailer Primark was slammed ten years ago when an investigation took place into the manufacturing of its products. Children were found to be working for 60p a day in a hot, unhygienic factory in India. From that day forth I stopped shopping there and was sickened by the cheap labour involved in making these fashions. A child, who should be receiving an education, is making clothes for our Western world. It is to be believed that in India over 300 hundred children are forced to work in sweat shops for 16 hours a day – otherwise known as slave labour. But do enough of us remember these horrible, unworkable conditions when we’re browsing the rails, searching for something cheap to wear?

It’s not just the physical shops on the high street which grab our attention – online advertising is also very influential. We get emails promoting offers, free next day delivery options and tempting vouchers delivered straight to our inbox. They help feed our never-ending cycle of, buy, throw away, buy, throw away.

“A child, who should be receiving an education, is making clothes for our Western world”

All this may be good for businesses, but definitely not fair on the planet. Over 300,000 clothes items are thrown into landfill in a single year alone. Aside from the massive and very real issue of how this is damaging our environment, think how much money you have thrown away over the years too.

There was a project which ran a few years ago in my city of Lincoln called the Collection Bank. Here, you would bag up unwanted items, have them weighed and were then given a few pounds per weight. I liked this idea very much and even took part in the project myself. However, due to funding and lack of interest in the community, this project sadly ended.

The war on throwaway fashion has only just begun Subscript
Lincoln, a city which has tried to address the issue of clothing ending up in landfill

I am obviously a huge believer in recycling and feel like the government should have done more to promote this clearly beneficial project. Perhaps places like schools should have been encouraged to get involved. Not only would this be teaching future generations, but it could have also encouraged their parents to take a look at their own, current shopping habits.

And there is still so much more that could be done. We can still all collectively act together by donating or recycling our unwanted clothes and other products we no longer need. We can attempt to stop the mass production of such garments, by creating interesting and educational adverts, producing campaigns that highlight their negative effects.

Even if we do something simple, such as opting for fewer but quality and ethical products over bulk buying cheap clothes, we are still making a step in the right direction. Addressing our damaging culture is something everyone can – and should be – doing. As a society, we can certainly put an end to our throwaway fashion culture…but will we?

By Stacey Adams

Stacey has always enjoyed reading and writing, which has encouraged her to share her own experiences online and has led to the creation of her blog.