Here at Who What Wear, we obviously love fashion. But that’s not to say that everything about the industry is all sunshine and rainbows. While we love the creativity and individuality that fashion trends inspire, we can’t help but cringe when we think about what our modern mentality towards dressing has done to the environment. Don’t get us wrong, we're just as obsessed with Zara as everyone else, but it’s time we face the facts. Fast fashion is destroying our planet…rapidly.
While it’s easy to turn a blind eye and assume that our individual actions don’t contribute too immensely to this dire problem, a self-evaluation is long overdue. While many Australians may not realise it, we are the second largest consumers of textiles in the world, right behind the U.S.A., as noted by Glam Corner. And to make matters worse, the average Australian woman only actually uses one third of her wardrobe, letting the rest go to waste. If this concept seems abstract to you, just imagine this: six tonnes of clothing going into landfills every ten minutes. Thinking about all those unworn garments hanging in your closet now?
It’s not comfortable to consider the realities of the negative impacts we’re having on our planet. To continue living in ignorance, however, would only perpetuate the harm; and likely make it even worse. In a world where trends come and go at the drop of a hat, it’s hard to not buy into this rapid cycle of buying and throwing out, constantly replacing garments season-by-season. After all, when stores restock new, affordable clothing every single week, it’s almost easy to dismiss the facts. But that doesn’t mean we should. If a little discomfort is what it takes to force us to be more conscious, then it’s important to address the reality of the pollution we’re creating.
On top of the accelerating rapidity of fast fashion, there is also a new problem to consider: Social media. While we already knew that Instagram can be psychologically draining, we never considered the ways in which it’s impacting our sustainability—or more accurately, lack thereof. Generally speaking, Instagram has reaffirmed the idea that wearing an outfit twice is a no-go. In today’s digital age, it’s almost as though being photographed in one outfit means it’s off limits forever… and that is terrifying. Instead of controlling the machine, we’re letting the machine control us—and the repercussions will echo around the world. Literally.
When fast fashion is made, it’s not just the potential of it ending up in a landfill that is less-than-eco-friendly, but many other factors come into play as well. For example, it takes 2700 litres of water to produce a single cotton top and produces a carbon footprint 20 times greater than the weight of the garment itself, Glam Corner reports. In layman’s terms: That’s more water than a person drinks in three years, and 20 shirts worth of greenhouse gas emitted into the atmosphere.
As someone who loves fashion but also tries to be eco-friendly, these realities are heartbreaking. So, what can we do? How can we do our parts to change the cycle, or at least minimise it?
While there’s certainly no easy solution, every step in the right direction does count. By adopting better practices on a personal level, we can hopefully start to shape a movement towards a new relationship with fashion; hopefully, one that would better for our home in this universe.
It can be sickening to think of all the damage being done at this very moment, but since we can’t just drop everything to start an anti-fast fashion organisation (how cool would that be though?), taking small steps towards sustainability is something each of us can do today.
One small step that only requires a mental shift would be to commit to buy only a certain amount of “new” clothes each month. Instead of turning to H&M when a new outfit is called for, first consider vintage shopping or renting an outfit from a site like Glam Corner. In doing this, you not only opt out of the fast fashion system, but also recycle garments that would otherwise be headed for the landfill.
Another easy change to make is as simple as the way in which you care for your garments. When a laundry machine is used, a small fraction of the energy is used to spin the machine, and the rest is used to heat the water. So the simple solution: Wash your clothes in cold water… it’s also better for a number of fabrics to avoid heat anyway.
Finally, a more long-term approach would be to consider adopting a "capsule wardrobe" mentality. Rather than following trends which encourages endless consumerism, the idea behind a capsule wardrobe is that a carefully curated of timeless pieces will last long and be extremely versatile. Sure, you may end up wearing the same dress in two Instagram photos, but is that really the biggest problem we have to worry about in 2018?
Yes, it’s overwhelming to confront these facts. And it may seem like a problem too big for one person to solve. The truth is: It is—which is why we all need to do our part, however small it may be.
Whether this means you stop shopping fast fashion, or wash your clothes in cold water from here on out, we hope at least one of these habits works for you personally. After all, everyone is different, but if you can make even a small change, we urge you to. Our planet’s future is depending on it.
Looking to make a small change today? Consider renting an outfit for your next event at Glam Corner.