What is 'fast fashion' and what can we do about it?



Blog by Nathan

Sustainable Merton Community Champion


The term ‘fast fashion’ is used to refer to clothing which has been produced fast, with cheap fabric and distributed to clothes shops as quickly as possible to give the public instant access to the next trendy outfit as it emerges on the catwalk. The outfit is shipped to an outlet, purchased, worn only a few times, discarded and creates unnecessary waste as it is added to the ever-growing pile of clothes in landfill.


The environmental impact of fast fashion ranges from vast water consumption, contamination of water with chemicals and dyes, increased carbon emissions due to the rapid rate of production and increased textile waste which releases toxins into the air. According to Good On You, ‘a fast paced model requires fast paced production, and quicker production gives way to environmental damage.’ Smith asserts ‘the fast fashion business model leaves the heaviest carbon footprint.’ Nicola Davis, Science Correspondent for the Guardian, sheds further light on the impact, highlighting ‘the fashion industry produces 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions and consumes 1.5 trillion litres of water every year’ and stresses ‘fast fashion is only exacerbating this environmental impact.’


The fast fashion frenzy, the urge to splurge instantly on the latest outfit to maintain a fashionable, modern wardrobe is quite clearly depleting our natural environmental resources and adding to the current climate crisis, and I strongly agree with Davis who states ‘the fashion industry needs to change to lessen the impact of fast fashion.’


There are a variety of clothing companies across the UK who are designing their fashion line in an ethical and sustainable way, from eco-friendly production, sourcing certified, organic materials such as bamboo and organic cotton, incorporating recycled materials such as leather offcuts and plastic bottles, to paying workers a fair wage and creating a safe working space, here are a few brands who are contributing to an eco-friendly future where fast fashion is obsolete:

We can reduce the ever-increasing carbon footprint of the fashion industry with some actions which will recycle clothes to increase their lifespan and solutions which will reduce the impact of the fast fashion frenzy which has overstretched our wallets and depleted the health of our natural habitat

  • Rent an outfit if there is a rental service nearby

  • Buy second hand clothes from a charity shop

  • Consider swapping clothes with friends to enhance your wardrobe

  • Buy better quality clothes

  • Take a sewing class so you can repair and upcycle your clothes to give them a new life (embroidery is a great way to close a rip in your jeans!) *

  • Check the ethical rating of a brand before you buy (try the app “Good On You”)


* Stay tuned for an exciting new project coming soon! 🧵