When people tell me that they don’t know what their purpose in life is, I often say ‘You’re not the only one.’ We sometimes get stuck in a rut; living each day with the same old boring routines and in our quest to bring the excitement back into our lives, we suddenly find ourselves succumbing to temptation and curing our boredom with some retail therapy.
What could be a better way to re-invent and entertain ourselves from the mundane than shopping? Trendy stores are like safe havens for many of us who want to pass the time and so we browse as we listen to their very own playlist that uplift our mood. In only a few minutes, we are transported into a world that appeals to our ideal personal style. We immerse ourselves in the brand’s world as we carefully (or sometimes- impulsively) choose the visually appealing and carefully merchandised pieces that stand out and speak to us. It seems that way doesn’t it? It’s as if they whisper ‘Buy me…’ and each time we get carried away and before we know it, we have a couple of large bags in our hands and a lot less money in our bank accounts… then the cycle starts all over again the next weekend and the next and the next…
Years ago, I bought the same items in different colours because all I cared about was how great they looked and how I need back ups of backups for those ‘just in case’ moments that never came. I discarded pieces of clothing because of minor flaws and donated them to charity. I once treated discarding not as a mindful and responsible way of getting rid of the excess but as an opportunity to shop for some more. Shopping became a treat I looked forward to; something I deserved and needed for all the hard work I’ve put in throughout the week. Even though I didn’t just throw them in the trash because I made sure that I donated them to charity shops, the fact that I was playing a part in this ‘throw away’ society is the thing that makes me feel so ashamed now. I didn’t really stop and think about the environmental impact ‘Fast Fashion’ would have on our planet. Like many others who shopped just as much, I didn’t think about those things because the cheap prices and the opportunities to re-invent ourselves by changing styles and clothing are too tempting to pass up.
How can we afford to shop so much?
£10 for a cotton vest? No problem, I’ll have five of that. £8 for 7 pairs of cotton socks? No problem I’ll have two packs of that. £20 for a pair of stretchy skinny jeans from the sale? Wow! They used to be £80! I’ll have two pairs of jeans! Look how much I saved! What a bargain!
This is how our shopping trips go most of the time. We only think about the cheap prices we pay at the till points but the reality is… there’s an even bigger price we pay for our over consumption…
The real price of fast fashion which we often never think about…
Fast fashion has wreaked so much havoc and stress on our dear planet and in the recent years, with the help of social media and documentaries focused on this particular subject, we have witnessed an incredible amount of destruction caused by a major global textile problem.
According to a research carried out by Quantis in their global impact study in 2018 called ‘Measuring Fashion’ (based on the World Apparel Life Cycle Database), ‘Dyeing and Finishing’ of textiles and fabrics take the lead in creating a huge negative impact when it comes to our Ecosystem, Climate Change and Human Health. This is because of the processes involved in the dyeing and finishing of materials. A lot of heat, energy and high amounts of water and chemicals are needed in the processes involving the manufacturing of such fabrics. This research doesn’t even take into account the plastic and paper packaging of apparels either. This study was conducted based on fabrics and textiles alone.
Also noted by World Wild Life (worldwildlife.org) that 2,700 litres of water is needed to produce a single cotton T-shirt.
Remake– a non- profit organisation focused on creating a more conscious consumer movement has stated that a lot of used and unwanted garments also end up in landfills.
Research has shown that the United States alone sends around 21 billion pounds of fabric and textile waste to landfills every year and only 10-15% of donated clothing actually end up to second hand retailers.
Who is to blame for all the toxicity within the fast fashion industry? Is it the manufacturers and the companies that provide us with the latest products and trends every week or is it us, the supporters and of mass consumerism? Some companies say that in order to keep up with the high demand for cheap and affordable fashion, they have to quickly mass produce items and garments in the cheapest way possible. The never ending cycle of fast fashion has snowballed into something bigger than we realise and it seems to be an unstoppable problem at this point. Is it too late to make a difference now?
It seems that although many of us are living not knowing what our ‘Life Purpose’ is, we can begin to make it our life purpose to help reduce the negative impact fast fashion can have on our beautiful planet.
Below, I will list a few Eco-Friendly fashion companies which I know and have supported for many years now. These companies are definitely helping towards creating a more sustainable fashion industry.
H&M has launched their global campaign ‘H&M Conscious’ and ‘Conscious -Sustainable Style’ to promote recycling and to help reduce the amount of clothing and textiles going into landfills. All of their stores now accept bags of unwanted clothing or home textiles so that anyone can drop these unwanted and items of any condition or brand for recycling purposes. Each bag you donate will earn you a £5 voucher which you can use for any future purchases worth £25 or more.
H&M promotes the following:
Rewear– items which can be worn again are re-sold as second hand goods through other organisations
Reuse– clothing which can’t be re-sold are recycled to be used as cleaning cloths and to remake other collections
Recycle-clothing and textiles which can’t be reused at all are recycled into fibres and other products
For the very first time, I went to my nearest H&M store to recycle three bags full of home textiles containing 2 sets of duvet covers with four pillow cases and four used towels. I look forward to using my vouchers to purchase from H&M’s Conscious-Sustainable Style range. This is the first step I have chosen to take in order to leave my ‘throw away’ past behind. I’m so grateful for H&M for assisting all of us with recycling textiles.
You will receive a £5 voucher for each bag you donate. Each voucher can be used for any transaction (full price/sale items) worth £25 or over. They have also released their very own H&M Conscious Fashion and Beauty range which are products made of recycled and sustainable materials and H&M Take Care where you will find tips and hacks on how to care and repair apparel to make them last longer.
I would like to note that although H&M still has a long way to go in terms of becoming a more eco-friendly brand, I respect and admire their commitment to improving their trading practices. We all have to start somewhere and I truly hope that more and more fast fashion companies do the same.
I first came across People Tree- a clothing brand which pioneered fair trade clothing and products when I watched the Netflix film ‘True Cost’. It was a hard hitting piece which looked into the true price we pay for cheap and fast fashion. The team at People Tree are committed to promoting a more sustainable fashion industry through many different ways such as using low impact dyes when manufacturing fabrics to also supporting local traders, manufacturers and farmers all around the globe.
You can visit People Tree’s website on:
Thought is a clothing brand focused on using sustainable materials such as natural and organic fabrics. They produce organic cotton, hemp and wool which are more gentle on the skin and the environment. You can find their collection stocked in over 1,000 shops all over the world.
You can visit their website on:
Komodo prides itself as being ‘The Original Ethical Fashion Brand Since 1988’. They believe that ‘The simple actions we make today can make a huge and positive impact on the future.’ Very much like the other brands mentioned above, their primary focus is to produce eco-friendly clothing and products by practising fair trading all around the globe.
You can find their website on:
‘A Meaningful Wardrobe’. Miyamiko is another amazing brand which is focused on producing eco-friendly products. They make all their garments just outside Lilongwe and they also have a Fair Trade factory and shop in Malawi. I personally love their dyed fabrics and their Batik range. I love their colourful pieces and the fact that just like many other fair trade and eco-friendly clothing brands out there, you know that all the skilled workers who made the items are treated well.
You can find their website on: