Fast fashion: trash

Recently I came across this nice, short documentary on fast fashion waste on YouTube. It’s really eye-opening to see what some of the consequences of fast fashion are:–HM

One of the problems with fast fashion is trash being donated. When we fill up a bag with clothes to donate, we all need to ask ourselves: Would I buy/wear a garment in this condition? If the answer is ‘no’, why donate it in the first place?

Sure, if the item no longer fits you, it’s no longer your style, or you just don’t wear it enough, then donate it. It may end up being sold at a local charity shop with the proceeds going towards the charity’s cause, or the item is bundled and sent to a developing country under the guise of helping to clothe people with little means.

But if the item is worn down with the fabric pilling, or maybe there are some (small) stains, maybe a seam is ripped or the hem is worn, maybe a button is missing or the zipper doesn’t work, then no one is going to buy this from a charity shop. The item will likely not even be put on display in a charity shop and will instead directly be sent to the developing world as a ‘donation’.

The clothes that get sent to the global south that are still fine to wear undercut local designers/clothing factories because they can’t compete with all the ‘free’ stuff that will be sold on markets for cheap. The clothes that no one wants to wear because they are broken/filthy get sent directly to landfill or they are burned. How is this helping anyone?

How come our trash even makes it out of the country? Because we consider our own landfills to be full and we don’t want the pollution of burning the items in our own country. It’s understandable that we don’t want to fill our landfills with rags, but why is it ok to then dump this problem onto another country, especially on a developing country that has enough problems to deal with aside from our trash?

Fast fashion thrives on consumptionism. Agata de Ru wrote an interesting LinkedIn post on the topic of consumptionism: .

Fast fashion uses underpaid/slave/child labour to create low-quality garments that can be sold for cheap so that many people will be able to afford them, often. Fast fashion apps have new items listed every day if not every hour. Even when going to a brick and mortar shop once a month, which to me is fairly often, you will see lots of new items on display.

I get it, I love novelty too. When I was a teenager and young adult I loved experimenting with my own style. In my case that was less about buying a lot of items and more about designing and making my own garments and accessories, but I know most people don’t want to do this. They would rather shop and use their time on their talents.

How can we resolve this issue? One way would be for countries to decide they don’t want to make their problem someone else’s problem, so to stop exporting our trash. We will then have to deal with our own trash making the extent of the problem visible to us. The more we become aware of our trash problem, the closer we are to resolving it.

An easy solution is to simply not buy as many things. Do you really need a new wardrobe every couple of months or even every year? This usually comes with getting rid of many of last-seasons items whether that is trashing it yourself or donating it.

I wouldn’t say I have a capsule wardrobe as I do have a fair amount of clothes, but almost all of them were bought secondhand. In my view, rarely buying new means I am only a small part of the demand for fast fashion, buying only my underwear and socks and leggings there. And now that I am trying to be more conscious of working conditions and pollution, I am looking into which local brands I could buy from when I do want something new.

If you do buy new, it would be less detrimental to the planet to buy better quality clothes. Research brands before you buy something. Figure out where their garments are made, what materials they use, and try to find out if the items are durable (through reading reviews).

When you buy garments that cost more, you will likely buy fewer items meaning you will not need to get rid of clothes as often. You are also less likely to buy something on an impulse: most people will not buy a £100 pair of jeans or a £30 T-shirt on an impulse. If you pay more you will treasure the item more and take better care of it (maybe even mend minor damage!) so it will last longer (yes, I have been there, washing a wool cardigan I bought new, for cheap, on the wrong programme making it shrink about 6 sizes!). If you then do get bored with the garment and want to donate, it is more likely to still be in a good enough condition for someone else to want to pay for it.

I am not perfect and neither is anyone else. But we shouldn’t let this get in the way of making some positive changes to our fashion consumption.

By Alex

I have been crafting since early childhood and currently do mostly sewing and illustration. 'Almalauha' is the project I started to showcase my sewing/fashion hobby, at least that was the plan. But because I like a million different arts/crafts things, I'm just going to share most of the creative things I do on this blog.

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