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April 26, 2020 3 min read

Fast fashion is the world’s second biggest polluter (after oil), but it hasn’t always been like this. Closet space was not a main concern in years gone by. Generations before us stuck with a few well-made garments. When clothes ripped, they mended. When they needed something, it was probably already in the household. The best store was often their siblings’ rooms.

Fast forward to today. Trends go out of fashion quicker than they can sell. When something rips, we bin it. When it goes out of style, we buy something brand new. The norm is to buy on repeat, to purchase as a habit and to rarely question the impact, other than the dent in our purse.

Rain Check: What’s in your clothes?

You may think your innocent-looking rain jacket protects you from the weather, and couldn’t possibly do any harm. Sure, you stay nice and dry, but the planet isn’t so thrilled about it. 

There’s a lot more woven into fabric than you think. In fact, many textiles used for clothing often combine around3,500 different chemicals. These chemicals are used for everything from dyeing the fabric to softening it for extra comfort.

The chemicals end up in the water that we drink and use to bathe. An estimated80 billion cubic metres of fresh water was used by the fashion industry in 2015 to produce the clothes we wear. That makes the fashion industry one of the largest consumers of fresh water, and one of the biggest producers of waste water. 

Think purchasing only cotton clothing is better? Unfortunately not. Cotton takes up arguably more resources than other crops, and in its worldwide cultivation, uses around 11% of pesticides and24% of insecticides. Cotton production combined with synthetic fibers left behind in landfills make this industry one of the most damaging to our planet. 

Fact Check: Who makes your clothes?

Modern Day Slavery is something the UK legislated to combat in 2015. Slave labour may seem like a historical issue, but is in fact a present-day problem, and one that the fashion industry has been criticised heavily for. When we look at our labels, we see words like ‘Made in China’, which many have become desensitised to. But remember, your garment can always be traced back to a real town, with real people. 

Health and safety is a priority and a matter of compliance for UK businesses, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to other jurisdictions. With40 million people working in the garment industry (85% women), a lot is swept under the rug. Vulnerable populations, including children, are forced to work illegally, and in poor conditions. 

Breaking the cycle of poverty is near impossible when subpar conditions and cheap labour are the threads that weave the fashion industry’s supply chain together. 

The ripple effect of how our garments are made must not be ignored. Watch the eye-opening Netflix documentary,The True Cost, to learn more about the truth behind the working conditions that produce the clothes that hang in our wardrobes. 

Personal Check: How can you make a difference? 

Believe it or not, your clothing choices, no matter how small they may seem, make a huge difference to the fast fashion chain. 

From 2000 to 2014consumers bought up to 60% more clothing, and kept garments half as long. Clothing consumption is expected to rise by a further 63% by 2030, so it’s time for conscious consumption to take priority over shopping therapy. Ohana is committed to putting the planet and people first.

Here are a few ways you can make a change:

  • Use apps.Good On You andAvoid help determine how ethical clothing may be, andVinted lets you swap clothes with others. 
  • Spring Clean! Donate to and buy from charity shops (when they open!). If you fancy a new outfit for your work night out, scouring charity shops can be way more fun than you think. Give yourself a budget and a challenge to find something great. 
  • Recycle your textiles. There’s no excuse nowadays to throw away used garments. If they’re no good to send to your local chazza, you can still recycle them by checking your local council textile recycling options. 

Got any great tips on sustainable shopping? Let me knowover on Instagram at@ohanacbd

Photo bySarah Brown onUnsplash

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