Megan Tarbuck, our lifestyle editor has taken on the challenge of buying no new clothes throughout the whole of 2020. Fast fashion is a massive part of our individual carbon footprints and can use unethical practices and employment. No new clothes in 2020 is a challenge which means any clothing brought has to be second hand or vintage.
For my new years resolution, I wanted to pick something challenging and sustainability orientated. As a student my budget limits my access to certain sustainable ways of living, I simply cannot afford to go completely zero-waste. I try to make good investments where I can to add sustainable elements into my life, but we’re all human and we can only do our best.
I’ve pledged to stop buying new clothes this year as I am fortunate to be in the position that I own more than enough. Fast fashion is such a damaging industry to our planet, a 2019 UK Parliament report ‘Fixing Fashion’ claimed fast fashion promotes us to over-consume and generate more waste. Online brands that deliver quickly and release new styles weekly fall into the fast fashion industry. Most of these brands work on producing something and delivering it as quickly as possible, for the lowest amount of money but with no regards for the impact on the planet or people that make the items.
Back in 2018, the Financial Times found that exploitation of workers in the clothing industry hits extremely close to home; Leicester in the UK! Their report suggested that people in the UK were working for less than £5 an hour in garment industry factories. In addition, the ethical implications of the fast fashion industry are felt particularly hard in Asia. Rana Plaza, a garment producing factory in Bangladesh, collapsed and killed more than 1,000 people in 2017. Women in Bangladesh receive some of the lowest wages in the world for creating our clothes. Fast fashion brands have a hold over places like Bangladesh where wages don’t rise due to fear the brands may go elsewhere in order to keep the price of their garments low.
The Guardian reported on fashion’s environmental impact back in 2018. According to Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) the UK sent over 300,000 tonnes of clothing to the landfill in 2016. This is a dangerous amount of clothing, that could have been donated or reused or even resold. Clothing also releases microplastic fibres in the environment polluting the air and water if made from polyester, a common fabric frequently used in fast fashion industries. The Guardian also quotes a Pulse Fashion Report from 2015 claiming the UN stated the “industry consumes more energy than the aviation and shipping industry combined”.
I could write all day about the impacts of fast fashion on our planet and on peoples livelihoods, but that was just a few examples of why this industry is not one I’m going to support in 2020. Initially, I found it actually a lot harder than I thought it would be, you don’t realise how much you can get sucked into thinking you need to buy something. I’ve gone a month without buying anything, instead I’ve started repairing items I already had.
Like I mentioned before, I’m incredibly lucky to be in a position in which I don’t need to buy anything new, and sometimes people don’t have that choice. This is why I’ve learnt it’s incredibly important to donate clothes we really aren’t going to wear. Whilst shopping at charity shops is great, we still need to be mindful consumers. Do you really need what you’re about to buy? Or does someone else in your community need it a lot more than you but can’t afford to buy it from anywhere else? Our shopping needs to be more considerate and sustainable; that’s the goal for 2020!
About the author: Megan Tarbuck is a 3rd year Geography & Environment student and the lifestyle editor for WILD Magazine.