Do you ever notice how as a trend gets bigger, retailers often have massive amounts of clothing from said trend supplied to their stores very quickly?
Of course, that’s how business works — people want, people get, and at lower prices than the competing store. Suddenly, the trend is gone, and the clothing slowly disappears from stores. You don’t wear that sweater anymore. You stuff it into the back of your closet and eventually throw it out, only having worn it four times.
And the statistics are here to back it up. The average American didn’t wear 82% of their wardrobe last year which is the hallmark of fast fashion. A colossal waste of your money? Yes, but unfortunately, it gets a lot darker.
A Safe Childhood Is a Right
You’re shopping and see an item of clothing you like for an amazing price. It’s almost too good to be true! You wonder if there’s a catch, and unfortunately there is. There are an estimated 152 million victims of child labour aged 5-17 in the world according to StopChildLabor.com, and a shocking amount of them are in the fashion industry.
When companies need a large quantity of clothing for a small quantity of money — to then be sold for next to nothing — the easiest way for them to do this is to exploit children who are vulnerable and voiceless. Whether we like it or not, by indulging in fast fashion, we are contributing to the trauma of vulnerable children. And with the way companies are expanding, that exploitation isn’t showing signs of stopping anytime soon.
Save the Earth
I’m sure you know about the climate crisis that is taking over the planet and how we only have until 2050 to take action. Fast-food chains have abandoned plastic straws and you might have begun carrying a flask instead of using bottled water, or invested in an eco-friendly electricity meter.
Companies that produce clothing release 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon emissions, all for the clothes they produce to go to waste (quite literally). 235 million items of clothing were sent to landfill sites last year — and that’s just in the UK according to the Environment Audit Committee. Additionally, the Environment Audit Committee found that there are 700,000 clothing fibres released in a single domestic wash. Not only does this add to the pollution of our oceans, but these micro-fibres are also eaten by fish which end up in our stomachs. All of these scary statistics, and yet we’re still pointing our fingers at Starbucks and their plastic straws?
So What Can You Do to Help?
The sad truth is, every time we pick up something suspiciously cheap at the store, each time we purchase those jeans we REALLY don’t need because we have an identical pair at home, and each time we throw out the shirt we’ve only worn twice, we’re contributing to the mass destruction of our planet as well as the mass exploitation of the lives of innocent, enslaved children.
Now, I’m not expecting you to completely boycott all clothing stores, but there are many ways to help! One of which is called Depop, a personal favourite of mine. Depop is an online thrift store which sells used, pre-purchased, and custom-made items.
I recently bought a once-worn jacket from Depop for half of its original price. Depop and other thrift stores like it are also an amazing place to sell that shirt you don’t want.
Buying from online thrift stores would mean that there is no unnecessary production of items through illegal means and you’d also be saving money! And offering support to this new form of shopping means we are giving less wasteful shopping avenues the chance to thrive. Consider selling your unwanted items on a platform like that too. Unlike with simply throwing unwanted items away, the benefits of online thrift stores are significant. Not only financial, but ethical too!