Kristina Baird, Year 13
Do you ever get sick of buying new clothes and having them start to fall apart at the seams within a month? And then you have no idea what to do with them? These are symptoms of Fast Fashion; the rapid mass production of inexpensive and low-quality clothing. Huge brands that we are all familiar with are guilty of fast fashion. This has a major impact on our environment as the demand for quick access to the latest trends and affordable fashion has led to a huge overproduction of short-lived clothing. The first step in coming up with solutions and alternatives is understanding the impact it has on our environment and being willing to make a change. The vibrant colours and dyes common in our clothes are produced from toxic chemicals; textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of clean water globally after agriculture. Did you know that many of our garments are made from synthetic materials that release toxic material and micro-plastics into our waterways? In western society, it is common for a family to throw away roughly 30kg of clothing each year. Due to the microplastics in our garments, it can take up to 200 years to decompose.

So what can we do to reduce the impact of fast fashion and become conscientious consumers? Firstly, the most constructive way to personally reduce waste as a result of fast fashion is to use clothing to the fullest. This includes:

Buying clothing with better quality and durability: This helps with ensuring that the garment will last a long time and will not need to be replaced quickly. Also, better quality materials are likely to be more sustainably produced.
Buying second-hand: This reduces the demand for mass production of new clothing and textiles. It keeps already made clothing in circulation and makes sure that they are used until the end of their life. Titirangi now has a regular Regenerate Fashion Market which is proving very popular
Repairing clothing when possible: This gives the garment a longer life for use and is especially effective if the garment is of good quality material
Donating old clothes: Donating clothing or sharing them or passing them to friends when you no longer want them is a good way to help reduce the waste that is created from throwing out old clothing.
Upcycling unwanted clothes: Upcycling and repurposing clothes is a good way to use the material we have in a new way, such as turning the garment into another piece of clothing, making cloth bags, tea towels etc. Upcycling is also a good way to be creative and make new garments that fit new trends while not increasing the demand for fast fashion.
Clothing swaps: You can organise a clothing swap event with your friends, this can be a lot of fun, and any clothing not taken can be donated to charity.

Now we are aware of the damaging effects fast fashion has on our environment, let’s become conscientious and proactive consumers and work together to reduce the impact we create through our consumption of fast fashion. Don’t despair; many ways to reduce waste and work against fast fashion are also money-saving!