Have you Marie Kondo’d your closet lately and realised how many clothes don’t bring you joy? Have you opened your wardrobe and noticed that it’s packed to the brim with all sorts of fabric? It’s something most of us face and hate to admit. With so many retailers looking for your attention, it’s hard to turn down a top for £10 when it’s marketed so well and looks great on! Why would I spend £40 on a shirt when I can get a similar one for less than half the price somewhere else?
This is where fast fashion comes in. Many major high street fashion brands try to keep costs as low as possible so they can stock a large number of different styles, new collections inspired by the catwalk and celebrity fashion, as well as frequently restocking to push consumers into buying more clothes then they need or may even want.
But fortunately for us, the media and consumers have caught onto the un-ethical and unsustainability of the fast fashion industry and it’s making everyone just a little bit more aware of the consequences of simply looking at the price tag and not the ethics of the brand.
Why Is Fast Fashion Bad?
In case you aren’t aware fast fashion is one of the major reasons for greenhouse gases, water and air pollution, a large amount of waste and for the most part, comes with poor working conditions in developing countries.
According to the Institute of Sustainable Communication, the clothing industry is the second-highest polluter of clean water after agriculture. This is due to Fast Fashion manufacturers dumping toxic waste into clean water. For example, many of the brightly coloured clothes that you wear are made with toxic chemicals, such as lead, due to how cheap it is to produce.
A large majority of clothes are also now made of polyester. When polyester is washed, microplastics enter the water system and end up in our ocean. Small aquatic life then eats this, leading up the food chain into the seafood we eat. Studies by Water UK show that raw water (untreated water in the environment) contained on average 4.9 microplastics per litre. Luckily our water filter systems in the UK manage to get rid of 99.9% of the microplastics in our drinking water, but this isn’t the case everywhere. The US has the highest contamination rate, at 94% of plastic fibres found in tap water.
But it’s not just our water that’s becoming contaminated, the world consumes 80 billion pieces of clothing each year, with a vast amount ending up in landfills. And on top of all this, many fast fashion retailers manufacture their clothes in developing countries where workers are paid below minimum wage and work in conditions that are far from acceptable.
The Collapse Of Rana Plaza That Cost 1,132 Lives.
On April 24, 2013, Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed killing at least 1,132 people and injured more than 2,500, most being young women. Rana Plaza manufactured apparel for many popular high street brands as well as some couture brands.
The tragedy was one of the biggest of its kind but unfortunately happens more frequently then you think. Just five months earlier, at least 112 workers had lost their lives in another tragic accident, trapped inside the burning Tazreen Fashions factory on the outskirts of Dhaka. After the Rana Plaza tragedy consumers began to speak out about the unsafe working conditions and even took their anger out on retailers who were not involved due to them sourcing factories being in Bangladesh.
The Start Of A Global Movement And How Paper High Gets Involved.
The Rana Plaza tragedy led to the start of a global movement advocated by Fashion Revolution, an organisation that celebrates fashion as a positive influence while also scrutinising industry practices and raising awareness of the fashion industry’s most pressing issues.
Paper High has always championed ethical, fair and sustainable shopping and joined in with the Fashion Revolution to raise awareness of the individuals who make our products and who we have worked with for many years. Each one of them is skilled and a true artisan who deserves not only a fair wage and safe working conditions but also recognition of their work. Below is an image of just a few of them. Fashion Revolution allowed us the opportunity to highlight them and their work to a wider audience.
There is a huge importance in how each artisan is treated, paid and the conditions they work in. We visit consistently, not only because we have a great relationship with our producers but also because we know how important it is to make sure that the artisans are still being treated with respect at all times.
More About Fashion Revolution And What You Can Do To Help The Movement!
Each April, Fashion Revolution hosts a week of awareness which has been branded as Fashion Revolution Week. From the 22nd to the 28th April 2019, Fashion Revolution encouraged as many people as possible to ask #whomademyclothes?
As a consumer, you can be persistent with brands in enquiring who made the clothes you’ve bought. They may not answer or they may direct you elsewhere but being persistent is key!
If you are a cotton farmer, a dyer, a spinner, a weaver, a garment worker, a co-operative or a factory, an artisan, or someone who sews or knits then it’s encouraged to show your face! Share your story so people can be introduced to the person behind the item. Transparency in the industry is a wonderful way to allow recognition to all the work that is being done and allows consumers to value your work and their clothes far more.
If you are a maker, Fashion Revolution has downloadable packs you can use to show yourself! You can find them here: https://www.fashionrevolution.org/about/get-involved/producer/farmers-producers-factories/.
If you are a consumer there’s one for you too! Follow the link here to be able to download it and show your support during Fashion Revolution Week. https://www.fashionrevolution.org/about/get-involved/
We all have our part to play in the movement to end the trend of fast fashion. Let’s use our voice together!