The fashion industry has transformed into a trillion-dollar business, employing millions of people across the globe. However, the rapid growth of clothing production and consumption has led to a significant increase in environmental and social issues. Fast fashion, a term coined in the 1990s, has been a significant contributor to these problems, with its focus on rapid design, mass production, and low prices, often at the expense of the environment and human rights.

The Shift from Fast Fashion to Slow Fashion

As consumers become more aware of the negative impacts of fast fashion, there has been a shift towards more sustainable and durable clothing, also known as “slow fashion.” These items often take longer to produce and are more expensive, but their high quality and eco-friendly practices make them a more responsible choice. The rise of online shopping and social media has also made it easier for sustainable clothing brands to showcase their products and practices, attracting a growing number of environmentally conscious consumers.

Thrifting and the Wildcat Thrift Event

Events like the Wildcat Thrift, an annual event promoting sustainable fashion, have gained popularity among younger generations. Offering preloved clothing items, including vintage and trendy clothes, thrifting has become a popular alternative to fast fashion. By keeping clothes in circulation, thrifting helps reduce waste in landfills and decreases the demand for new clothing production, ultimately conserving valuable resources.

The Sufficient Wardrobe and the Fashion Industry’s Carbon Footprint

A report by the Hot or Cool Institute suggests that a “sufficient” wardrobe should consist of 74 garments and 20 outfits, with new purchases limited to an average of five items per year. To meet the Paris Agreement target of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5C, the fashion industry must reduce its emissions to 1.1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e). The Centre for Sustainable Fashion at the London College of Fashion emphasizes the need for a change in the culture of newness driven by trends and cheap prices, as the current accountancy model for fashion fails to consider environmental and social costs.

Embracing Sustainability Beyond Fashion

As climate change continues to cause irreversible damage to our planet, embracing sustainability in all aspects of life is crucial. From adopting a plant-based diet to swapping disposable items for reusable alternatives, individuals can make a significant impact on the environment. Major chains like Chipotle are recognizing the benefits of plant-based proteins, while sustainable swaps like stainless steel straws and bamboo utensil sets are becoming increasingly popular. By making conscious choices in fashion and beyond, we can work together to mitigate the worst effects of climate change and create a more sustainable future.