The Harsh Reality of Disposable FashionTom Levin
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Environmental Crisis: The Harsh Reality of Disposable Fashion
“A woman can never have too many clothes” – said every woman ever.
Calling all self-confessed shopaholics. I could definitely place myself in that category… that is until I became vegan. You see, I sort of hit a brick wall when it first came to shopping as a newbie vegan and my addiction halted for good reason. All the things I loved were suddenly out-of-bounds, because many of the higher-quality, longer-lasting garments are composed of animal products, ranging from fibres of silk and wool; oh and when it comes to suede, well then you are quite literally purchasing the skin of a helplessly slaughtered animal. Now, on the bright side there are of course MANY alternatives to choose from, except my bank account is applauding me massively due to the less abrupt transactions deducted from my hard-earned pay cheque monthly. The benefit of being a vegan fashionista, YOU SAVE MONEY.
Whilst I am clearly stating the obvious, cruelty-free fashion is cheaper; this post is more about raising awareness on the less obvious consequences of a fashion obsessed society, by which having the latest trendy piece to show off or make you feel beautiful is all the fuss. The truth is the cheaper, more accessible and lower quality alternatives come at a far larger cost to our planet and humanity. Let’s address the latest environmental crisis of our generation: disposable fashion/ ‘fast fashion’.
The crisis is unknown to most. Heck, I only just discovered it thanks to my friend and fellow environment-saving enthusiast, Holly. I quote myself in my late teens and aspiring fashion blogger, “I will never wear the same outfit twice.” What a ridiculous statement. Since when did we become SO fashion-obsessed! Very recently, I would say it started long before the 2000’s, where a rise in the fashion blogosphere, social media, and brand endorsing celebrities made it fashionable to ‘wear something once’ and fashion a weekly past time, otherwise known as ‘retail therapy’. After much research and evaluating my own over-flowing wardrobe and actions, it all started to make sense, so I continued to question the extent of which this problem stretches. My conclusion is far and wide; it’s a problem.
I want you to start off by thinking about your favorite high-street stores; be it Topshop, H&M, Zara, Forever 21, or Primark. Responsible for those overly-pleasing bargain buys and looks replicating those straight off the runway – making the most desirable trends affordable and accessible.
Ask yourself how many off those, wear and tear far quicker than anticipated, and how many actually end up being disposed because they have been fast-replaced by newer pieces. When I moved away from London, I disposed of 15 bin bags full of clothes, gathered over years that I had hoarded uncontrollably, always keeping in mind my motto ‘I will fit into that again/it will come back in fashion/I will find another use. Regardless, there I was donating 15 bags to charity shops feeling pleased with myself that they would go to a better place, those in need. Except, the harsh reality is that over 50% ends up in landfill sites, with only one quarter being recycled (greenpeace). It is no secret that we are nations drowning in rubbish, we produce a terrifying amount of waste daily –
Why are we so careless? I am definitely guilty of this ‘fast-fashion’ craze, by which I have purchased countless garments, some worn only once, others forgotten as they fell out of fashion – the 15 bin bags were proof! I am not proud of this. Knowing what I know now, I can only make a positive change moving forward. According to Greenpeace, “2 billion pairs of jeans are produced every year, a typical pair takes 7,000 litres of water to produce. For a t-shirt, it takes 2,700 litres of water to make just one – that’s the amount of water an average person drinks over the course of 900 days!” I was shocked to discover that the fashion industry is the second dirtiest industry in the world with EcoWatch stating that, “It takes about 70 million barrels of oil just to produce the virgin polyester used in fabrics each year.” that means that the cheaper alternatives we opt for at ease have detrimental consequences, a large contributor to global warming.
What does this have to do with me being vegan? Everything actually! All of us vegans are familiar with the fact that “2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce 1 pound of beef” (sourced from Cowspiracy). The fashion industry is the largest consumer of water after the animal agriculture industry. Being part of this movement we are pioneers promoting a sustainable future, saving our animals, our planet, and ourselves – so surely this is a matter we must acknowledge and raise awareness on now.
The solution? “Buy less. Choose well. Make it last.” – Vivienne Westwood. Couldn’t have said it better myself.
I truly believe that to become vegan, it requires curiosity on creating a sustainable future. Therefore, I hope my post leaves you wanting to know more, and wanting to make a change for the better in more ways than one. The rest is in your hands; learn more and pass your knowledge onto others as I have unto you. Be the change you want to see in our world…