How today’s fashion industry is fuelling climate change, drinking up the world’s water and more.

Shopping for the latest trends has never been easier. Styles go seamlessly from catwalk to high street in what can feel like a matter of minutes. And not only is fashion fast. Fashion is cheap.

In a world where you can now buy a £1 bikini and a £4 dress, the true cost is far greater. Clothes have become throw-away. To be loved one minute, binned the next. Much of the fashion industry is proving to be detrimental to both people and planet.

Garment workers in countries such as Bangladesh are often not paid a living wage. This injustice keeps families trapped in a cycle of poverty.

That’s not all. The fashion industry – which includes the growing, fast fashion sector – is glugging precious water resources too. Making life even tougher for some of the world’s poorest people. Over 90% of the water footprint of UK clothing is overseas, often in countries in which water can be scarce. And producing clothes is thirsty work.

water needed to make t-shirt & jeans

Source: WRAP

Yes, that’s 10,000 litres to grow enough cotton to make just one outfit. In some countries, it can be up to 20,000 litres. When so many people around the world don’t have enough safe water to drink, it’s unsustainable and it’s unfair. It’s harming our planet, too.The same goes for fashion’s carbon footprint. If you’re trying to live a little greener, you’ve probably thought about the way you travel, maybe what you eat. But many of us haven’t even considered the contents of our wardrobes. And yet…

The textiles industry pollutes more than aviation

Source: NFCCC

That’s right – the textile industry accounts for more of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions than international aviation and shipping combined. And, despite the emerging climate crisis, this is only set to rise.

Another massive reason to rethink the whole fast fashion thing is waste. And here’s why…

11 million UK clothes items go to landfill each week

Source: Wrap

Thankfully, this staggering stat highlights a really easy way we can all have an instant impact – by wearing and caring for clothes for longer. Whatever they cost. And by recycling or donating the things we don’t want. Hey presto: millions of items saved from landfill every week.

Donate clothes to Oxfam and you’ll definitely help tackle landfill!

Even if your clothes don’t sell in our store or online. Because any that don’t are sent to Wastesaver, Oxfam’s huge sorting and recycling centre, which never sends clothes to landfill – saving around 12,000 tonnes of textiles from ending up there every year.

Oxfam saves clothes from landfill

Source: Oxfam

There are countless other ways to help make fashion more sustainable. Buying second hand. Learning basic mending skills.
Supporting ethically-made clothing brands… As part of Second Hand September we’ll be sharing more ideas and tips. We hope you’ll share your ideas too. And together, we can help make fashion kinder to people and to the planet – fast.

Wardrobe in need of a clear-out? To do your bit to fight landfill, why not bypass the dustbin and donate your clothes instead.


Blog by Claire Baylis

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