By Emma-Raeburn Anderson
Did you know that polyester takes more than 200 years to decompose? That, paired with the million tonnes of textiles dumped each year, is creating a serious problem for our environment.
The UK has fallen into the convenient grasp of fast fashion, with reports from Greenpeace revealing that we “buy more clothes per person than any country in Europe”.
There are approximately 300,000 tonnes of clothes burned or buried in landfills every year.
Fast fashion is the term used to describe the design, manufacturing, and marketing method to produce high volumes of clothing quickly.
They focus on the latest trends and usually use low-quality material in order to get the garment out quickly to consumers.
Many are advocating for brands to become more ethical both towards their employees and the environment.
Fashion is the second largest worldwide polluter, after the oil industry, and it is only getting worse.
Many well-known brands have been dubbed as “companies to avoid” in a bid to create a greener world.
UN Environment Programme reports: “The [fashion] industry produces 20% of global wastewater and 10% of global carbon emissions.
“Which is more than all international flights and maritime shipping.”
Unfortunately, along with more ethical clothing comes a heftier price tag.
The bigger price tag that comes with sourcing organic fabrics puts many people off purchasing from greener brands.
The difference is that a £40 t-shirt is much more likely to last longer than a £10 t-shirt due to the fabrics used. It is difficult for many to have the money set aside to be able to invest in higher quality items.
However, if you want to wear ethical clothing, start with what you already own.
Having items altered or pairing them with something a little different are the first steps to a more planet friendly wardrobe.
As well as this, donating unwanted clothes to charity, passing them onto friends or selling them second hand will also help to reduce the effects on the environment.
If everyone made a couple of small changes it could begin to reverse the damage that’s been done to the planet.
The more we challenge brands to do better, the more they must listen.
It is not just the UK who are struggling to keep a hand on the pollution that comes from the fashion industry.
The US buys five times the amount of clothes now than they did in 1980. That equates to roughly 80 billion pieces, according to Dana Thomas’s book Fashionopolis.
With his new presidency, Joe Biden has promised to help resolve several issues, including making changes to help save the environment.
His predecessor, Donald Trump, removed America from the Paris Agreement, something that Biden has since rectified.
The Paris Agreement is a legally binding international treaty revolving around climate change.
It began on 4 November 2016 and its goal is to limit global warming down to 1.5 degrees celsius.
More needs to be done worldwide to restore our planet before the effects of pollution become irreversible.
While scientists have not given an agreed time frame, it’s becoming more apparent that we must act now rather than later.
Sustainable fashion designer, Stella McCartney, who spoke to Greenpeace said: “Did you know that the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is burned or landfilled every second?
“And right now, less than 1% of material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing, meaning 99% of all textiles and fashion are waste.
“That’s about 100 billion dollars worth of materials wasted each year.”
The pollution from the fashion industry impacts every aspect of the planet: the water, the land, the animals, and us.
Global warming is drastically changing homes, lives and bringing on the extinction of animals and live matter.
We have to do more to help our planet get back into a healthier state. Re-evaluating the fashion industry could help that.
This cannot be an overnight fix but the first step is always the biggest one.