Food documentary What the Health created a growing panic amongst us regarding what we eat and where our food comes from. Vegan became the next biggest trend, whether it was for general health, food preferences or following the steps of Beyoncé, the world has increased its awareness on the food industry. The fashion industry is very similar to the food industry when looking at how we consume, food wastage and overeating is the same as buying loads of clothes we don’t need and throwing away clothes we don’t want. As society is learning more about what is in our food, it’s makes us raise the question of the ethics of other things we consume such as our clothes. Fashion Revolution started a campaign titled ‘Who made my clothes?’ pushing people to ask brands and major labels where our clothes come from and who made them.
The fashion industry is the second largest industry and the second biggest polluter after oil. It’s easy to overlook the global damage our personal wardrobe can have but when you add up all the cheap Missguided, Miss Pap and Forever 21 party dresses we purchase for an occasion, it equals a lot of waste. Fabrics also contribute to pollution, the way different fabrics are grown and animals are farmed. Our society has an unhealthy culture of shopping, every single day of the year Westfield Shopping centre is crowed and Oxford Street is flooded with new people. People can’t possibly need new clothes everyday, yet we continue to buy.
Famous designer Stella McCartney opened up the sustainability question back in 2001, in an interview with Vogue she said “I’m hoping what will happen is in 10 years, people will look back at the fact that we killed billions of animals and cut down millions of acres of rain forest, and [used] water in the most inefficient way—we can’t sustain this way of living. So I’m hoping people will look back and say, ‘Really? That’s what they did to make a pair of shoes, seriously?” If Stella McCartney can still make luxury, glamorous and beautiful collections using sustainable methods, it definitely isn’t worth risking the environment for a pair of shoes, this is the way we as a society need to start thinking.
A few things we can do to drive the fashion industry forwards and towards a more sustainable industry are:
- Thrift shopping – Vintage kilo sales are everywhere and it’s so much cooler to have a vintage designer jumper that can’t be found anywhere than to have a jumper from Primark that you catch a hundred other people wearing.
- Recycling Clothes – Do people even still throw clothes in the bin? Taking clothes to a recycling point or donating it to charity reduces waste.
- Buying sustainable fabrics – Buying sustainable cotton and organic fabrics that are grown without harming the environment.
- Shopping for quality – it’s not hard to diffenciate a good quality garment and a low quality garment. Shop for the long run rather than joining trends which don’t match your style. Aim to buy timeless pieces for your wardrobe.
- Repair – Rather than getting rid of things we would start fixing them, take damaged bags and clothing to a tailor rather than replacing them.