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Fast food fashion

Just how much impact do cheap clothes have on the environment? Way too much, argues FV1’s Jemila Tajah

There seems to be no escaping the black hole we call the fashion industry. We have no choice but to be sucked in as it’s just so hard to resist the influence of celebrities and glamorous people. They all look so nice and shiny.

But the clothing industry has become as unhealthy as fast food. Some clothing is so cheap that buying it’s as easy as getting a burger and chips. So what’s the problem? Isn’t it a good thing that you can buy clothes for £2 or less? Unfortunately it’s not as straightforward as that.

The high street clothing industry is readily mass producing more and more copies of designer clothes so we can now afford to buy clothes that are in fashion - whether we need them or not - then bin them when they go out of fashion. And the consequences of this are harsh. 

Buying cheap clothes you don’t need has a huge knock-on effect for the environment. Why? Well, firstly many clothes end up dumped in huge land fill sites where they’re left to rot, which adds to the harmful gasses which are destroying the atmosphere.

Ethical fashion brand howies®, says, ‘If everyone cared about the next person downstream, they wouldn't fill the water system with chemicals or fill the earth with unusable, non-recyclable fast-fashion waste. The difference could be clothes either lasting longer, coming from sustainable sources or that can be recycled at the end of their life. If everyone worked on making a small change, together we'd make a big difference - consume less and be less strain on our planet.’

Ethical fashion, on the other hand, addresses environmental issues and the issues the workers face who actually make the clothes. As a result of globalisation, labour can be purchased very cheaply with little care for the well being of the labourers. We’ve all heard stories of the terrible conditions workers in third world countries, some of them children, face in sweat shops. Cheap clothes must come at a cost.

Like cheap fast food, the high street fashion industry seems to be made out of rubbish. And in the same way that fast food is unhealthy for your body, fast fashion is unhealthy for the planet.  You could say that ethical fashion is the salad option.

But there seems to be a stigma attached to ethnical clothing. It often conjures up images of hippies in sandals.  Well, thankfully things have changed. Ethical clothing has become very fashionable – cool shops include People Tree, howies® and Knock on the Door. In fact, the eco clothing market has become a pretty exciting one and it’s growing hugely in popularity.

We all know too well that we need to save the planet. Well, ethical fashion is part of the same mission. If you’re still not swayed, I just have one more thing to say: price and cost are two different things and the problem with today’s society is that the price of fast fashion doesn’t reflect the environmental or human cost.

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