New research has revealed that once we’re done with our clothes, a fifth of us admit to throwing them in the bin rather than re-purposing them or giving them to charity, adding to the 300,000 pieces of clothing retiring to UK landfill per year. Not cool.
Admit it: you’re obsessed with all things fashion. It’s OK, we love shopping, too.
However, the world’s second most polluting industry after oil, the very nature of fast fashion’s quick trend turnover renders it so damaging that it has become one of the most environmentally crippling industries on the planet.
That’s why method is working with Clothes Aid to open the method slow fashion store, which opens to the public 16th-17th October. The store, billed as an antidote to fast fashion, offers customers the chance to buy second-hand clothes gifted by influencers and celebrities such as Millie Mackintosh and Jasmine Hemsley, donate unwanted items, and customise unloved outfits to give them a new lease of life.
To celebrate the launch of the new shop, we grilled Jasmine Hemsley on all things fast fashion and sustainability.
Why is sustainability having such a big movement?
Grassroots organisations have been pushing for more sustainability in fashion and retail for decades – Prince Charles has been a vocal advocate since the ‘80s – but awareness has skyrocketed around ecological and ethical practices since David Attenborough’s brilliant Blue Planet II in late 2017.
Although this was mainly centred around the destructive effect of plastic on our oceans, it has snowballed into every area of our lives, including fashion. Stacey Dooley has also taken on the matter in her new documentary, Fashion’s Dirty Secrets on BBC, in which she uncovers the practices that make fast fashion possible and fatally harm our planet in the process.
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What three things can we do every day to be more sustainable?
1. Bring reusable containers wherever you go, whether that’s a Keep Cup for your morning tea, as well as a water bottle for your workout or a glass container for your takeaway. You could also try a stainless steel box like the ones from Elephant Box.
2. Think before you buy something new. Do you really need it? I love Livia Firth at Eco Age’s 30 Wears campaign: if you think you will wear an item 30 or more times, then it is a welcome addition to your wardrobe. If it’s just for one event, consider borrowing or even renting to get your “fix” from somewhere like Wear the Walk or Front Row – this new way of consuming fashion has really taken off in the States, especially for those in fashion/media who want to be at the forefront at all times and this turns out to be the most economical way for them to take trends and give them a personal flair.
3. For those of you who love the buzz and creativity of fashion, switch to second-hand. Charity shops, clothing swaps, vintage boutiques, car-boot sales and online markets are all full of treasures just waiting to be given a second life, and it’s more economically friendly as well as ecological – eco squared, if you will.
How can we make our beauty regime more sustainable?
Using natural cosmetics is important. For too long, we have chosen short-term vanity over long-term health. We have been (usually unknowingly) overlooking the undesirable chemicals in mainstream products that our skin absorbs, and sometimes, these products can have devastating consequences on our wildlife as well – think of the microbeads in exfoliating gels and such, which are now in the process of being phased out entirely from cosmetic products because of the harm they cause to marine wildlife. Although not considered “single use,” the plastics and packaging that form, protect and display these products are also a problem.
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Many natural companies are already conscious of this but whenever possible, privilege products that come in sustainable materials – such as glass, bamboo, recyclable tin or paper and cardboard for dry items – rather than plastic containers so as to reduce your overall plastic consumption.
This is the age of the consumer and so, just like with fashion, we are buying up more beauty products than we need in the quest to have the latest or to satisfy that urge to consume. Switching to natural products is usually more expensive (with good reason) and so we can think twice about our purchases, ultimately leading to less consumption. These natural products also don’t contain the same extent of preservatives, so we need to think about using each product hygienically and in a particular time frame rather than having several on the go, like we might do if we got swept up in a beauty product shopping spree.