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Zeco Chapter 2: Alternatives To Fast Fashion

This #PlasticFreeJuly we’re doing our bit to make more sustainable choices, and spread awareness around small lifestyle changes that can make a big difference. One topic we wanted to address is fast fashion, and how the clothes that we wear to work or in our personal lives can be swapped for eco-friendly alternatives.

What is the problem with fast fashion?

Fast fashion isn’t going away, each year more than 80 billion garments are made! On average, charity TRAID found that a garment is only worn 10 times before it is thrown away. In the UK alone we send around 350,000 tonnes of clothes to landfills every single year.

Microplastic pollution from clothing

Fast fashion has a devastating environmental impact. Here are a number of ways the industry damages our planet:

  • Microfibres
  • Greenhouse gases
  • Deforestation
  • Toxins
  • Human rights violations
  • Excess water usage

Microfibres have been making headlines over the past few years due to the impact they are having on the environment and our food sources. Microfibres are microplastics that come away from synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon. These particles come from your clothing when they are washed or thrown away. According to research from The University of Newcastle, Australia, the average person consumes about 5g of plastic every week from water. The good news is that the World Health Organisation has said that at current levels these microplastics aren’t harmful to human health. However, it’s time to turn the tide and make sustainable choices when it comes to buying, washing and recycling our clothing. 

The easiest thing you can do to minimise microfibres releasing from your clothing is to simply wash your clothes less. When it comes to buying new clothes make sure you are shopping thoughtfully, this could mean buying less, buying sustainably or choosing pieces that will be worn multiple times. If your clothes have come to the end of their lifecycle or you no longer want them, make sure you recycle them! You can sell them on, give them to charity or other donation points and for pieces no longer fit for purpose you can upcycle or repurpose them.

Alternatives to fast fashion

If you are looking for ways to avoid fast fashion or make more responsible purchasing decisions here are our recommendations for more sustainable alternatives!

  • Charity shops

Choosing to shop at a charity shop is a great way to support a good cause and give new life to clothing that would otherwise go to landfills. Although it can be more time-consuming to find something specific that you are looking for chances are you’ll get it at a much cheaper price. Charity shops aren’t just for high street shops, people donate designer brands too so it could even be a great way to build your wardrobe with versatile pieces from great brands. 

Kilo Sale allows you to shop by weight whilst shopping for sustainable vintage, retro & branded fashion for just £20 per kilo. There are now over 45 cities across the UK where Kilo Sale’s take place. Since there is such a huge volume of clothing at these events there really is something for everyone. 

Cow is an independent vintage clothing and accessories retailer offering a sustainable alternative to fast fashion, with several stores across the UK and worldwide shipping from their website.

The handpicked items are ethically sourced from around the world and available to shop at affordable prices. Having already stood the test of time, the quality clothes, unique finds and iconic brands range from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and even nostalgic 00s pieces. If you are located in Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester or  Nottingham make sure you check out their store or shop online. 

This Leeds based ethical fashion store allows you to shop sustainably either in-store or online. The brand wants to reverse ecological damage caused by humans and for ecosystems to regenerate and flourish.

There are so many great shops that enable you to recycle unwanted clothing (or other goods) as well as purchase used items for yourself to reuse or upcycle.

  • Online Apps/Websites

If you prefer to shop online there is no excuse for not shopping sustainably. Online sites such as Depop, Vinted and eBay allow independent sellers to list clothing they no longer want in one place. You can easily scroll through thousands of pieces of clothing to find something you’re looking for. A top tip – if you’ve seen something in a high street store see if you can find it on one of these websites/apps, not only will it be cheaper but you’ll also be saving clothing from landfills.

Remember by choosing second-hand clothing and shopping in the past we can be kind to the future.

How are Zeal getting involved?

We’ve set up a swap rail in our office where staff can bring unwanted clothing. The team can swap items and anything left over will be donated to either Smart Works or Emmaus at the end of the month.

Smart Works is a charity that empowers women by providing them with interview-appropriate clothing to help them feel confident. Smart Works support women back into employment so they feel more confident and start believing in their own ability to succeed.

Emmaus are a charity that supports people who have experienced homelessness by providing them with a home and meaningful work in a community setting. By donating clothing and other goods Emmaus save thousands of tonnes of items from going to landfill every year.