Fast fashion - the environmental impact

Fast fashion - the environmental impact

‘Fast fashion’—what is it?

Buttanshaw and Dorotheou both agree that the key components of fast fashion are:

  • a quick manufacturing process
  • a flexible production that allows manufacturers to quickly increase production if items are selling well
  • low cost

Buttanshaw adds that: ‘Garments are aimed at consumers who want to change their wardrobe on aregular, trend driven, basis but are budget conscious. It has been argued that this combination of low-price points, focus on short term trends and the speed of production results in garments which are of low durability and not intended to last.’

This point has been argued strongly in the Environmental Audit Committee’s report, ‘Fast fashion: clothing consumption and sustainability’, which states that ‘the way we make, use and throwaway our clothes is unsustainable.’ See further: LNB News 19/02/2019 107

Dorotheou notes how long this has been going on as well as some examples of retailers: ‘This practice started in the 1980s and has since become avery popular part of the UK's retail industry.’

Impacts and issues

When looking into the background of this inquiry, the outcome seems like it was inevitable the spotlight would eventually be shined onto fast fashion.

Dorotheou says that the ‘UK’s love of fashion has resulted in an increasing demand for clothes’ and therefore retailers produce ‘more products to meet demand’. However as this has gone on Buttanshaw says that there has been ‘a growing public consciousness of the potential adverse impacts of consumerism and a'throw-away' culture.’

The Committee’s report is filled with various facts:

  • the UK buys more clothes per person than any other country in Europe.
  • 300,000 tonnes of textile waste ends up in household black bins every year.
  • less than 1% of material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing at the end of its life.

There are countless examples with the Committee claiming that ‘fashion shouldn’t cost the earth—but the fashion industry has marked its own homework for too long.’ According to the report, this has come about

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