24 November 2017

The dark side of fast fashion & Attempting to buy ethical


After researching several brands and also watching the program The True Cost on Netflix, I've decided to look further into ethical and recycled fashion. Although it comes with obvious benefits, for example, a wider range of choices allowing for a larger customer reach, fast-fashion definitely has an unavoidable dark side. With many of the high street and high end brands changing their clothing collections more than twice a season, it brings to question, is this a sustainable market? The simple answer is no. Not only is this unsustainable, but also extremely unethical. 

Ever picked up a 5£ t-shirt or jacket and thought wow what a bargain? or noticed that the perfect white shirt you'd been dreaming of for so long from Zara, is also sold at H&M for almost half the price? Yep me too. I used to be one of those people who searched relentlessly for a good deal, going into several shops just to save a measly 2£. It's clear that this is a business ploy to gain popularity and increase sales, but how do they do it? Turns out undercutting other shop prices is easy, but not without consequences. 
  1. Cheaper materials - Changing from natural fibres to synthetic fibres. Synthetic fibres are usually oil based which involves delving into our non-renewable energy sources,  while also contributing massively to pollution. 
  2. Lower cost labour - Spending less on the manufacturing of the clothing means that it can be sold for a cheaper cost without effecting profit margins. Clothing manufacturing companies (sweat shops) are usually told they must make certain amounts of clothes on an extremely low budget. Knowing that most potential employers are doing the same (in order to undercut) and not wanting to lose current employers to other sweat shops, this usually results in spending less money on wages and working conditions. Leading to catastrophes like the Bangladeshi factory collapse in 2013 which killed around 1,134 people, most being women and children. 
It's easy to stop there and think that's the end. Eh, it's only effecting countries and people far away right? That's no concern to me. But that's far from the end. Have you ever thought about what you do with your clothing after you've finished with them? Perhaps, you've only had a dress for a year and worn it once before realising that, oops, you've put on a few pounds and it doesn't fit anymore. Or maybe it's your favourite denim skirt that you've worn to death and it's so rugged you've started to look like the lead singer for a rock band. Either way, some of your clothing has ended up in the bin or, more likely, the charity shop. Naively, I used to believe that sending my clothes to the charity shop meant that they wouldn't get exported and dumped overseas, but that isn't the case. A 2015 study estimated that only 10-30% of clothing given to charity shops in the UK were sold, whereas the rest were exported for landfill. Approximately 140 million pounds of clothing is exported to landfill each year in the UK (2015). While initially being angry at this statistic and the charity shops, I've learnt that it isn't their fault. It would be unrealistic to assume charity shops can keep up with the hoards of clothing coming in and, honestly, they shouldn't have to. So while fast-fashion may not effect you in the direct, "I work in a sweatshop", way, it is pretty safe to say the pollution it creates will. 

It wasn't that I was completely oblivious to the use of sweatshops and cheap labour before, but more that I preferred to blissfully attempt to ignore it. I was one of those people who tried to make up for buying cheap by occasionally buying something off the ethically sourced rail or giving more to charity (but as I now know this also doesn't help very much). It sounds awful to say, right? Meera, you let children as young as 10 work insufferable hours in dingy, unclean spaces that you wouldn't even step foot in, just so you could parade around in a new fluffy jumper or show off your new velvet Christmas dress. Disgusting. But it's so easy to instantly condemn others for their choices without taking into account our own. For example, what are you wearing right now? Do you know where it came from? I ask sitting in my flowery non-ethically sourced Primark pyjamas. Right now you're probably questioning why i'm even writing this, I mean Meera, you're basically sitting wrapped in probably the biggest fast-fashion offender in the world. And to that I say, it's not about my past choices but about my future ones

Now, don't get me wrong, I know it isn't practical for everyone to suddenly stop shopping at their favourite store or immediately switch out their beautiful 20£ gingham scarf for an almost identical ethically sourced one double the price, but even small changes go a long way. I've decided that I'm going to try and shop more ethically, looking more into vintage, recycled and small sustainable brands. I'm not going to instantly throw out all my non-ethically sourced clothing or completely avoid ever going into any high-street store again, but I am going to attempt to cut down and try out new ways of sustainable buying. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts on fast-fashion. Leave them below! 




32 comments so far

  1. This is definitely something I'd like to focus more on! I need to watch that Netflix documentary. Have a great weekend! xx

    Madison http://breakfastatmadisons.com

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    1. You should it's really good! Have a great Wednesday xx

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  2. I personally feel like fast fashion is disgusting and very detrimental to our environment and people in economically vulnerable situations. But I also believe that just shopping ethically with clothing isn't good enough. People also need to be aware that animal agriculture contributes more negatively to the environment than any other industry.

    I don't think we can pick and choose where we need to be moral, we should try harder all round.

    Abigail Alice x

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    1. This is interesting but im not sure I totally understand your point. Do you mean in terms of other ways of living sustainably (e.g. food, belongings...)? Because, if yes, then I totally agree, I think fashion is just a tiny part of the massive problem. This post in no way suggests only making a change in the clothes you buy, it's just looking at one part of the big problem. I'm in total agreement that we shouldn't pick and choose, we should be looking at all ways we can live more sustainably. Great point though, loved reading your thoughts x

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  3. This was really interesting to read. I didn't realise it was that statistic for Charity shops with clothes - when we don't longer wear some clothes then we donate them to the charity shop. I'll try be better where I can in the future with buying clothes.

    Amy,
    https://creativenails.uk

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    1. I had no idea either, it shocked me when i found out. Glad you found it interesting!

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  4. This was very inspiring to read and I really enjoyed it. It isn’t something I knew very much about before reading this so thank you for sharing!

    Victoria | www.missviclb.co.uk

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  5. Wow what an eye opener! I’m so guilty of bargain hunting and being a purchaser of fast fashion and this has really shocked me. I’ll be thinking twice about my choices now x

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    1. I really was too! And it's taken me ages to change X

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  6. I've been trying to be mindful of what I buy for a few years now. I invest in timeless pieces that I can wear for years to come. I also donate and recycle clothes I no longer wear.
    http://doreensstylediary.com

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    1. That's great! I need to start investing in some timeless pieces too.

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  7. What a great post! It's really made me think about my buying habits and how I can change them x

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  8. This was so interesting to read! I've been aware of fast fashion and the sweatshops for a while now and have slowly started to turn towards more sustainable brands. One of the brands I love is Nobody's Child as it's ethical and their clothes are so affordable and accessible!

    amerzwithlove.com x

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    1. Oh I've never heard of it before, but I just looked it up and it seems great! Thanks for introducing me to it x

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  9. most cheap clothes are made from low quality fabrics but some are overly expensive that to save money, it makes you want to buy the cheap ones
    The Glossychic

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    1. Yeah that's true I totally understand why people shop fast-fashion sometimes the high prices mean it's just not feesable to shop ethical.

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  10. I loved to read your thoughts on this. I have thought about this topic on and off for the past year and also want to make some changes X Well done!

    xx Lisa | lisaautumn.com

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    1. Ah thats great! If you find any good ethical brands let me know xx

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  11. I'm so guilty of searching for the best deal but never really thought about why they're cheaper or what happens further down the line, will have to start thinking harder and making better choices for sure!

    Beth x

    https://isthisseattaken.net

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    1. I never really thought about it until recently either! Even small changes make a big difference x

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  12. That's an interesting topic !
    I studied 3 years in a fashion school so it was the kind of topic we're aware about.
    But fast fashion is also a great alternative for all who love fashion and can't afford more expensive brands.
    And I won't lie I love too much H&M, Zara and all theses others brands which are affordable for my wallet and make me have a closet full of clothes to make my days more fun.
    I love to find different ways to match an item even if it's an H&M item or a most expensive item. I'll still keep it until the end except if they don't fit of course. It's better to keep the items when we know trends always come back!
    xx,
    Margot
    https://troughthepasturesofthesky.com/

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    1. I totally understand it's not always an option to shop ethical as it is more expensive! But small changes make a difference too x

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  13. I love to buy on cheap store and even bargain. I understand your point and sometimes we need to save for something much important.

    Much Love,
    Jane | The Bandwagon Chic

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  14. Great post! I feel like you said all the right things in introducing someone to ethical fashion. I was thinking about doing a post like this on my blog to introduce the shop's ethical habits better. But I couldn't have said it any better than you. Thank you for shining a light on this, and doing your part as a consumer.

    (Blog: blog.tiyoshop.com ll Shop: www.tiyoshop.com)

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    1. Aw I'm glad you enjoyed it! I've also checked out your blog and website and think your new shop is an amazing idea. Will definitely be a hit.

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  15. This is such a thought inspiring post...For all of us who dive into Primark for a quick, cheap pair of whatever, really need to take a step back and think WHY it's so cheap, and how ethical the manufacturing is. I'm guilty of needing a cheap purchase here and there for sure, without actually thinking...

    Sally.
    www.sallymorganmoore.com

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    1. I'm glad you found it inspiring. I'm definitely guilty of doing the same don't worry !

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  16. I really liked this article and agree with some of your points in regards to fast fashion. It's great that you highlighted how often people throw away clothes - an obvious strain on our environment.

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    1. I'm glad you liked it. Was wondering which parts you didn't agree on? I love hearing other thoughts and suggestions!

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