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creating a safe working space, here are a few brands who are contributing to an eco-friendly future where fast fashion is obsolete: