Fast Fashion and the Environment

Last week there was a BBC documentary exploring the impact Fast Fashion has upon our environment. (you can watch on BBC iplayer)

Since then several customers have asked about it, wanting to know our opinion to the documentary.   We thought it was great that the BBC has highlighted the environmental impact that Fast Fashion has – although many of the issues were oversimplified the images used (such as the dry sea bed) were truly captivating and a great way to raise awareness and generate debate.

At Alexandra’s we have always taken the sourcing of our clothes very seriously and have followed the Slow Fashion model as opposed to the Fast Fashion model.

Fast fashion is a term used by fashion retailers to describe inexpensive designs that move quickly from the catwalk to stores to meet new trends. … Today, it is not uncommon for fastfashion retailers to introduce new products multiple times in a single week to stay on-trend.  This is the marketing strategies of companies such as Zara and As0s.

Slow fashion is the deliberate choice to buy better-quality items less often. When purchases are made, they’re environmentally and ethically conscious rather than trend-driven.

 

If you want to be more environmentally aware when making your purchases you can:

  1. Look for Organic Cottons.  The advantages of buying GOTS certified organic cotton are:
    1. It’s better for the environment – Organic fibres are grown without the use of synthetic fertilisers or potentially toxic pesticides. By building soil fertility, organic farmers help lock CO2 into the soil, helping mitigate climate change. It also avoids the use of the toxic pesticides that, in non-organic systems, are responsible for poisoning wildlife and rivers, as well as killing an estimated 16,000 people each year.
    2. It’s better for workers – who avoid potentially toxic pesticides cotton and the associated health problems.  Avoiding pesticides also reduces production costs and farmer debts – the burden of pesticide debt has resulted in thousands of suicides in India which is the world’s largest cotton producer.
    3. It’s non GM  GM is banned in organic systems, while an estimated a significant amount of all cotton grown worldwide is genetically modified. GM cotton poses a potential risk to wildlife and human health, as well as exposing farmers to unnecessary expense.
    4. There’s restricted use of chemicals and limited residues GOTS ensures that the chemicals used in processing textiles meet strict requirements on toxicity and biodegradability. Final products are restricted in the amount of allergenic, carcinogenic or toxic chemical residues. These residues can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin and may cause allergies, skin rashes or respiratory problems.

In contrast, non-organic manufacture uses tens of thousands of acutely toxic chemicals, many of which are classified as hazardous by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

 

  1. Look for fabrics such as Hemp or Viscose which is made from Bamboo pulp so is a natural fibre that is both breathable and biodegradable. The Process of producing viscose does involve chemicals so responsible companies ensure that the dyeing and fabric manufacturing units install a water treatment plant, so that the processing water is treated before being released back into the environment.

 

  1. Look for brands which do not use Formaldehyde, Azo, Phthalates, Alkylphenols or PVC in any form – which are harmful chemicals commonly used in the fast fashion industry.

 

  1. Look for brands which also use fully biodegradable packing. All the garments we receive in the shop come individually wrapped  we look for companies whose individual garment packaging is made from fully biodegradable non gmo-cornstarch, that importantly, doesn’t require sunlight to break down.

 

As well as considering the impact clothes production has on the environment we also choose companies which meet social criteria based on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions. These cover minimum wages, working hours, child labour, freedom of association, discrimination, harsh or inhumane treatment and more.

But don’t worry, at Alexandra’s we have done a lot of the research for you – and are happy to answer any queries you have.     All we want you to do is simply choose garments that you love so that you will wear season after season rather than just wear once or twice and then put into landfill.

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