In the 21st century, fashion is an endless cycle of buy, wear, waste. In fact, the average consumer throws away 70 pounds (31.75kg) every single year, making the fashion industry the second most polluting in the world – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Whilst we all want to upgrade our wardrobes, there’s no need for the harmful pollution it creates in the process.
Fast fashion is a modern-day phenomenon, enabling clothing companies to mass-produce, manufacture and market garments that follow the latest fashion trends and allow consumers to level-up their style for cheap. Though this may not sound terrible, the true cost must be considered – textile production produces 1.2 billion tons of CO₂ per year, which puts substantial pressure on natural resources.
In recent years, many fashion brands have adapted and made it part of their ethos to be more sustainable, with three quarters of fashion and retail bosses recognising that more sustainability measures are needed in their industries. For example, in 2020 ASOS went paperless, now managing their returns completely digitally!
Circular fashion is “designed, sourced, produced and provided with the intention to be used and circulated responsibly and effectively in society for as long as possible in their most valuable form, and hereafter return safely to the biosphere when no longer of human use”. Basically, it cuts out all the nastiness to the environment and still lets you look great.
The circular fashion market is a sustainable alternative to fast fashion that’s increasing in popularity; in between 2016 and 2019 online searches for “sustainable fashion” tripled.
Fashion’s circular economy could be worth $5 trillion.Vogue
A perfect example of a circular fashion brand is nu-in, who use a variety of recycled, organic and regenerated materials to produce their clothes. Founded in 2019, the sustainable clothing brand was created with sustainability at heart and owns its responsibility to protect the planet and its inhabitants. They desire to make clothing that is both fashion forward and affordable, with a mission to show the world that sustainability and affordable fashion can coexist.
I know what you’re thinking, is circular fashion just another trend? Does it really matter? A report from Vogue stated fashion’s circular economy could be worth $5 trillion (yes, you read that right). With that in mind, it’s fair to say circular fashion won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.
How you can help
So, what can you do to help? Well, here are a few ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and have a positive impact on the environment:
Don’t buy a new outfit for every single occasion – re-wear! You should already be considering cutting down the number of items you purchase full stop (you really don’t need a brand new outfit for every Friday night). There’s no shame in sporting an outfit more than once! Save yourself some time, money and be more eco-friendly by bringing some old ‘fits back out of the wardrobe and remember, no-one is judging you!
Don’t throw your unwanted clothes away. Instead, repurpose or re-sell – as the saying goes, one person’s trash is another’s treasure. With more and more people shopping online, re-sale apps like Depop and Vinted are quick and easy ways to pass on your old garments and earn some cash in the process (win-win!). There’s bound to be someone in the world who’ll be interested, so give it a try!
Donating used clothes to charity is a great way to help others who may not be fortunate enough to shop for new clothing, as well as giving a new life to your unwanted garments. Donating is actually the most popular method of disposing of old clothes too, with 39% of people in the UK now giving clothes to charity shops. You can also choose the charity you want to donate to, so if there’s a cause that’s close to your heart, what are you waiting for?
Think about what you buy
I’m not saying don’t buy whatever you want, but make sure your purchases are intentional and you aren’t just buying something you know will never leave your wardrobe just because it’s in the sale for 75% off. Changing your mindset to only purchasing clothing you really want is another step towards a circular economy and being more eco-friendly.
Circular fashion seems like a natural progression for fashion to enter a new era of sustainability and reach more consumers than ever before. Now there’s no excuse for you to be square; come join the circle.