rack of clothing

The Impacts of Fast Fashion and What Can be Done to Stop Them

By Jennifer Powis
Lifestyle Editor

We’ve had concerns for years that fast fashion can have negative implications for the workers who produce the clothes, hearing reports of incredibly low pay and unsafe working conditions. However, the BBC documentary Stacey Dooley Investigates: Fashion’s Dirty Secrets shown a few days ago revealed a whole new world of the truly shocking effects of mass produced clothing. So what are the real impacts of fast fashion and what can we do about them?

Did you know that it can take thousands of litres of water just to make 1 pair of jeans?

Neither did we. Not until we saw Stacey Dooley revealing some of the shocking statistics behind the production of clothing. She travelled to countries such as Indonesia to get a much deeper insight into the effects of clothing production on the environment and people’s quality of life. What she uncovered was deeply shocking.

The fashion industry is a huge source of pollution – in fact, it’s claimed that the fashion industry is one of the top five most polluting industries today. A vast number of clothes are going into landfill, microfibres are polluting our seas and chemicals are being pumped into rivers.

Stacey visited a river in Indonesia to see first-hand the effects the clothing factories have had on the water quality. Pipes from the factories are located at many places along the river – here, the changes to the colour and temperature of the water could easily be seen.

Image credit: BBC

When tested in a laboratory, the water was found to contain dangerous chemicals such as mercury, lead and arsenic – it’s no wonder that the people who rely on the river for washing clothes and bathing are suffering from conditions that make their skin incredibly itchy and sore. They are scared to use the water for bathing their young children, and we can understand why.

So, what can be done to reduce the impacts of fast fashion?

We greatly hope that Stacey’s fashion documentary will be the catalyst for change that is truly needed to protect our planet. Increased regulation is very much needed, but we as consumers can do our bit to show our support for the planet.

5 ways to reduce your consumption of fast fashion

Here are 5 ways to reduce your consumption of fast fashion:

1. Make use of charity shops

Taking your used clothes to charity shops is a wonderful way to both give back to society and also to ensure your clothes get a second life. Whilst you’re there donating your goods, you might just find a few new items – a great way to save money, support a good cause and save clothing from landfill.

2. Choose quality over quantity

Many of the fast fashion brands sell clothing that isn’t made to stand the test of time. Choose pieces that look well made and high quality so you know that they will be used many times.

3. Banish trends

We live in a society where trends come and go in a flash. Try to shop for the future, purchasing clothes that you know you’ll still be happy to wear in the months and years ahead.

4. Ask yourself if you would pay full price

See something in a sale and get excited to grab a bargain? Pause before purchasing and ask yourself if you would be tempted to buy this item if it was at full price. If the answer is ‘no’, put it back on the rail for someone who would truly love it.

5. Swap clothes with your friends

Why not create a fun evening with your friends where you all get to swap clothes? Ask everyone to bring a few items they no longer wear so that you can have a swapping session. A shopping experience that is great for the planet and totally free for everyone to enjoy.

A focus on sustainable fashion fits in very well with our quiet living ethos. A capsule wardrobe is so much easier to manage and reduces our daily choices, providing a much more enjoyable experience every morning. Not only does it allow us to make easier choices every day, a smaller wardrobe that focuses on quality over quantity will contain only outfits that bring us joy and make us feel confident and comfortable.

The impacts of fast fashion have been revealed to be just as shocking as we feared, possibly even worse than we ever suspected. By saying ‘no’ to fast fashion, in addition to benefiting our own lives, we are also contributing to the protection of the environment and our planet, which needs our support now, more than ever.

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