Fashion in an age of consumerism

Consumerism is the belief that acquiring consumable and material goods is essential to improving an individual’s sense of fulfilment, the notion of which is becoming frequently promoted in the media via prolific marketing campaigns and influencers.

How is it impacting our environment?

Along with the obvious social and economic issues that consumerism is causing, it is also having a detrimental effect on the environment. Increasing land use and deforestation, as well as increased pollution emissions, have led to a loss of habitats and wildlife. In order to make the items that we know and love, more and more water reserves are depleted or diverted as a result of intensive farming practices much to the detriment of our planet’s water resources.

The issue of excessive waste disposal is spreading around the planet, and our oceans are transforming into one large landfill. According to estimates, shockingly, more than half of the plastic produced yearly is single use, meaning it is only utilised once before being discarded into the environment.

Fast fashion is one of the biggest culprits

Fast fashion has an adverse effect on the environment due to the exhaustion of non-renewable resources, and the release of greenhouse gases, alongside the large consumption of water and energy that is required to make clothing.  

The manufacturing process of one cotton shirt requires approximately 700 gallons of water, and a pair of jeans can use up to a staggering 2,000 gallons! Subsequently, the fashion industry is the second-largest consumer of water and the damage does not stop there. Often, discarded water that regularly includes dyes or pollutants is poured into ditches, streams, or rivers, creating further harm to wildlife and the environment surrounding it.

In a recent survey carried out by women’s skirts retailer, Damart found that fast-fashion’s environmental impact has begun to influence the buying and recycling habits of consumers, as we become more aware of the impact that our clothing choices may have. 20% of respondents said that they consider sustainability prior to purchasing clothing, with only 9% of us aiming to try and shop “greener”.

Introduction of online selling forums/apps

Online apps such as Depop and Vinted have helped to curb the negative impacts of unsustainable fashion purchasing habits. Damart also found that 54% of respondents have previously sold their old clothing on such platforms as well as opting to buy from other sellers second-hand. Not only is this a great way to snap up a bargain on some of your favourite brands, but it also allows you to help support and protect the environment.

Our daily consumer habits are having a detrimental effect on our planet, and we must act now to curb the damage that has already been done. What are your buying habits when it comes to fashion? Are you a sucker for the latest looks on the high-street mannequins or do have a scope around in the charity shops and online platforms with the interest of shopping ‘greener’? Being more mindful of how we shop for clothing can help improve the sustainability of the fashion industry, and you never know, you may find a great bargain or two in the process!

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