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Fast fashion has been a trending topic for a number of years now when it comes to ethical and environmental concerns, but the focus seems to have dropped off of late with other cares taking precedence. As valid as those are, this doesn’t mean that fast fashion is any less of a problem even with steps having been taken to mitigate some of the biggest issues, so we’re keen to keep spreading awareness of this problem.

What is “Fast Fashion”?

In short, fast fashion is like it says – “fast” production, delivery and wear time – fast fashion doesn’t tend to last long, and some pieces are only worn once before being discarded by consumers. The ideology behind it may be to keep up with fashion trends, but behind the scenes, this mentality is causing problems in terms of carbon footprint, worker’s rights and also keeping plastic fabrics in production.

How does Fast Fashion cause damage?

Because every part of fast fashion relies on quick processes, its easier to use materials that don’t cost a lot but are also unethically produced. This includes synethic fibres such as nylon or elastane which are made from heavily processed petrochemicals (fossil fuels). In addition, the wages of workers creating this clothing are low, with people being expected to work long and hard hours for minimum wage or less, in poor conditions.

Companies such as Boohoo were in the news a few years ago for exploiting workers, and they are by no means the only company guilty of this.


Not only does the manufacturing process cause concern, the amount of waste this produces is also a problem. Because the materials being used as mass produced and cheap, little care is given to the offcuts or extra product that is produced, so a lot ends up in landfill to rot away.

The end products are also prone to wastage – cheap materials don’t last long, so clothing ends up in the bin after a few wears or breaking so it must be repaired. With the idea you’ve paid a minimal amount for an item, the likelihood of it being repaired to be reworn is less.

Even if the clothing remains wearable, the idea of fast fashion as a whole tends to mean the garments are worn only once or a few times at most. Whilst they may then end up being sold on, donated or recycled, this idea does still mean more items are being made and creating a larger carbon footprint.

Raising awareness

So with all this in mind, how can we negate fast fashion even more than it has been?

  • Shop less – buy items that are of higher quality and work on the idea of a capsule wardrobe, with items you can wear many times in different ways. Examples could be buying one or two good quality scarves which can be worn for warmth or style, or thick leggings or trousers to wear through the colder months rather than thinner, lesser quality items.
  • Awareness – make sure you know the ethics and practices of the companies you buy from. Do they operate a fast fashion mentality, do they treat their workers’ (both in the UK and overseas) fairly, do they use good quality and responsibly sourced materials?
  • Look at the materials – are the clothes you’re buying made from cheap, mass produced materials or something else?
  • Reduce wastage – if you have items you know you won’t wear again, consider donating them (even if you have to repair them first) or recycling them, rather than throwing them away. https://www.recyclenow.com/recycle-an-item/clothing-textiles is a good source for finding textile recycling points.