09 September, 2010

The real cost of fast fashion

EDIT:All statistics and facts were referenced in my assignment. UK and American figures are used as finding Australian ones are very difficult.
Please also keep in mind the task was a persuasive speech with my class as the audience, not a research paper, essay or thesis.

I'm coming up to my last couple weeks of my final year of high school, with holidays approaching - Posting will be returning to normal.
For my final English oral, we were required to write a persuasive speech on a topic of our choice.
And because of my disdain for fast fashion and chain store clothing I decided to do my speech on this.
As a result of time limits and the fact I had to keep it simple for the people in my class it is not as detailed as I would like. But here it is.

"Saturday, Queen Street Mall, you are sitting in Gloria Jeans and flipping through the newest copy of RUSSH that you just bought from borders. Plastic bags surround your feet from a day of shopping as you plan potential outfits with which to fill your wardrobe for the upcoming summer. Chances are these garments will be worn once or twice and then discarded once the trend is over or they fall apart due to inferior manufacturing.
6 million 330 thousand tons of clothing and footwear a year is contributed to landfill in the United States alone.

Globalization has made it possible to produce this clothing at increasingly lower prices, prices so low they make the purchase tempting and the disposal painless. Some call it “fast fashion,” the clothing equivalent of fast food. This idea of "fast fashion" leaves a pollution footprint, with each step of the clothing life cycle generating potential environmental and occupational hazards. Recently, there has been an increased interest on the environmental impacts of our consumer behaviour.
So are you thinking about what you are doing to the environment? And more importantly, thinking about what can you do to help?

Fast Fashion is term used to describe the cheap trend clothing, usually sold by stores such as Sportsgirl or Witchery in Australia, or Topshop in the UK. Retailers now will have something new every month or even week in some cases, instead of just two collections (Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer) each year. This change in consumer buying behaviour is driven by both the reduction in the price of clothing and increased marketing of new trends and fashions.

Fast fashion clothes are generally only worn a few times before being replaced by the latest trend.
But even if no bunnies were harmed in the making of your outfit, ask yourself if any children, rivers, or patches of ozone were destroyed in the quest for your $10 cotton on (or H&M) singlet.
Immense amounts of petro and polluting chemicals are used in Synthetic fibres like polyester which are regularly used in the production of 'fast fashion' clothing. These present health risks for workers, organisms and the environment in the vicinity. Green house gas emissions, chemical pollution and landfill waste are well reported as being key issues in environmental impacts of fast fashion.

The growth of cotton, the most widely used natural fibre uses huge amounts of chemicals that are damaging to the health of the workers and the surrounding environment. Manufacture of these textiles when combined with the transport of the garments around the world produces vast amounts of green house gas.
If that wasn't enough to make you think, there is then the problem of disposing of unwanted clothing. The amount of clothing ending up in landfill is astounding, and on average a person in the UK will contribute 30kgs (roughly 75 pounds) a year. These textiles present particular problems in landfill as synthetic (man-made fibres) products will not decompose. Even natural textiles pollute water systems with chemicals and dyes that are washed out by rain water, woollen garments decompose but produce methane, which again harms the environment.

Are you ready to do something yet? Donnatella Versace “there should be more quality." And it is undeniable when the current situation that the "Fast fashion" is causing is taken into consideration, with each step of the clothing life cycle generating potential environmental and occupational hazards. Buying an investment piece of clothing, something you really love and will last years and in some cases a lifetime – reduces its real cost per wear and is far more ethical than purchasing bags and bags of cheap clothing the second a new watered down catwalk trend hits stores.
Cheap clothing that you will probably wear just once.

if we want to be eco friendly and smart about our fashion purchases, we should put our money toward well-made items that are, unlike clothing from Sportsgirl or Bardot, seasonless and trendproof—a classic black blazer, jeans made from organic cotton, or a little black dress that never goes out of style.
Sure, they're not the most exciting purchases, but if they last, they'll survive any fashion whims.
Recycling of clothing is a great idea but the quality of many fast fashion items makes them less desirable second hand. The quality of the clothing that is coming through recycling plants is on the decline, which makes it harder to reuse.

And whilst there are a numerous manufacturers of eco textiles and brands with excellent environmental credentials available, it is consumer behaviour – Your behaviour, Our behaviour - that will need to change in order to reduce the impact of fashion and clothing on the environment.
Fashion retailers driven by consumer demand and will change their products and marketing to respond to a change in customer behavior.

So make the change from fast fashion to sustainable style. Choose clothes in classic styles that will last more than one season. Store clothes carefully to make them last, keeping shoes and clothes out of the sun will prevent any sun damage or dust and where possible, mend and repair instead of replacing.

And remember Fast isn’t free or cheap– someone, somewhere is paying."


Anonymous said...

Yes I agree completely. People should aim to be stylish, not fashionable.

fizzleout said...

Excellent! Very persuasive and definitely makes you think about choosing quality over quantity! I hope the talk went well

Elisha Casagrande said...

This is amazing babe!! So amazing I'm going to post it on my blog. Great work xo

Sarah Dee said...

This was a very amazing post...


Cynthia said...

Great stuff. I'm organising a recycled fashion parade for next weekend as part of a sustainability festival and this post will really help me with my 'shocking realities of...' script. Thanks

Cara said...


From tonight onwards, no more highstreet binges.

[ELIESA] said...

i hope you got 200% for this assignment!!!!! such a good speech and tick, tick, tick, i agree with you on these fashions that dotti and the later love to churn out.

Rose said...

Fucking amazing! I am so, so tired of seeing girls on the street emulating bloggers emulating catwalk trends, and every other item is by Forever 21. I recently challenged myself to stop consuming and work with what I have in my closet already, after realizing how much I blow on "budget" clothing. When I do resume shopping, I plan to focus on investment pieces and add spice with amazing vintage. Thanks for backing up my decision with a clear, concise argument for why we all need to be more responsible and aware in our style choices.

R said...

very good, i've also been focussing and thinking about this topic through a few of the classes in my college program.

Traci said...

So true!! If you haven't read them already, i strongly recommend 'Sustainable fashion and textiles' by Kate Fletcher, and 'Eco-chic: The Fashion Paradox' by Sandy Black. x

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