2018 was the year that single-use plastic became known as a worldwide issue but will 2019 see fast fashion becoming the enemy?
Sustainability was a serious buzz word in the last year with the use of plastic straws and coffee cups being the main topic. Sustainable fashion, however, still seems to be a niche market. With the release of Stacy Dooley’s documentary on fast fashion, the nation had its eyes opened to how damaging the 21st century industry was to our planet. Whether it is possible for our habits to be changed seems to be debatable.
We’ve grown up in a time where having huge wardrobes full of clothing items, you've only worn once, is idolised. Phrases such as ‘outfit repeater’ were heard in all the big chick flicks of the 2000s; ingraining into the millennial generation that it is embarrassing to wear the same jeans and top together more than once. No one seemed to think about the fashion industry’s effect on the planet and the fast fashion empire has grown exponentially. The lights of Times Square have turned from displaying elite, designer clothing brands to cheap, fast fashion houses. The use of child slavery by big brand factories was stopped. so can fast fashion be?
I think it’s safe to say that clothing production has been the mysterious dark horse in the world of sustainability. The effects the factories are having on the planet have literally been buried (Rana Plaza 2013) under the topic of the bad working conditions for the adults and children that are left falling asleep whilst making your high-street bikini. This is where fast fashion comes in. Fast fashion focuses on speed and low costs in order to create frequent and new collections inspired by the latest popular celebrity styles. Instead of creating staple pieces aimed to be kept for years they make clothes that are focused on the current trend. Due to this cheap cost, it is likely that environmental and humanitarian corners will be cut. These ‘in-styles’ may only be around for a couple of months. Currently, up to 85% of textiles are ending up in landfill or being incinerated when most of the materials could be recycled and reused.
So why is it bad for the environment? These garments, which, on average we wear less than 5 times and keep for roughly 35 days, produce 400% more carbon emissions than items kept for a year. Many of these production companies have been found to use harmful chemicals and dyes in their clothes leading to the recent Greenpeace Detox campaign. Not only are these dyes banned in a lot of countries, for being so toxic, but their waste also ends up in waterways and rivers, harming marine life. The most common fabric used in our clothing is polyester an important consequence of this lies unseen in our washing machines. When polyester is washed it sheds microplastics which eventually add to the plastic pollution in our oceans. These plastics are so small there is no way you can see them, let alone begin to fish them out. Not only are they affecting marine life but these plastics will end up back in our food chains and in our stomachs.
Earlier I mentioned the Stacey Dooley documentary ‘The True Cost’. The main focus of the programme was on the production of cotton. Often seen as the more environmentally friendly option, the effects of cotton are getting worse. The volume of water that is required to grow the crop is huge and causing serve problems in developing countries that are already suffering from droughts. One t-shirt alone requires up to 2,700 litres of water to make. The effects of the production of cotton can be seen in Central Asia where it has been linked to the Aral sea almost completely disappearing.
The apparel industry accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions and is the second-largest industrial producer. A recent publication by the UN said: “Shifting practices in the fashion industry to reduce carbon emissions is key to limiting warming to as close to 1.5°C above pre-Industrial Revolution levels, in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change”. So this is where sustainable fashion comes in.
“Sustainable fashion is clothing, shoes and accessories that are manufactured, marketed and used in the most sustainable manner possible, taking into account both environmental and socio-economic aspects.” A couple of years ago the only mainstream access to sustainable fashion was sourcing locally or from charity shops. Now we have seen a huge rise in well-known brands expanding to a more sustainable production line. The surf industry alone has seen a recent surge of sustainable collections by the likes of Volcom, Roxy and Afends. This is a positive sign that more and more people are beginning to learn the true costs of the 21st-century fashion craze on our planet. Using recycled materials, organic cotton or ‘farm to yarn’ processes are becoming more common.
So, what better way to get started with sustainable fashion than swimwear, something that has a direct effect on the plastic in our oceans. The shedding of tiny microplastics by our swimsuits, and straight into the sea, is something that can be prevented. By using lycra made from regenerated ocean plastic and investing in sustainable swimwear we can have an instantly positive effect. Buying from small, independent brands is the key to tackling the carbon emissions and buying items made from fabrics from recycled material will protect our ecosystems. Luckily for you, sand&palm tick all these boxes.
Be sure to check out our previous post to learn all about the sustainable lycra that we use for our swimwear.
Hi! I’m Freya, a Cornish local who has grown up in and around the sea. Living on the coast my whole life, sustainability and loving the environment has always been a massive part of my lifestyle. I’ve surfed since I could walk and spend 90% of my summers barefoot in a bikini and in the water. Having always lived in a tiny village I’m lucky to have had the opportunities to get out and travel and surf in all the corners of the world. This something I’m so grateful for and has only increased my love for the planet and shown me the importance of keeping it in shape for future generations to enjoy as much as I have so far. In between my University studies I teach surfing and yoga on the beach and pride myself in turning into a beach bum for 5 months of the year. When I’m not in my wetsuit or on my yoga mat I love to discover new cafes and brunch spots with my fellow mermaids and drink all the coffee that I can handle. So far my life has been full of sand, waves and tan lines; just the way I like it.