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Living life with good intention, loving with soul, and consuming with a conscience

Saying Goodbye to Fast Fashion

Ahh, clothes. Although I would never say clothes are my number one love, they do come pretty high up that list for me and have always been a central interest for me growing up. Even as a teen I was into fashion *that much* I was fully submerged in the idea of studying Fashion Design at university and sometimes I regret the fact that I didn't. I would read hundreds of magazines to see what my favourite celebrities were wearing (imagine an odd mix of Davey Havok from AFI, Gerard Way and Frank Iero from My Chemical Romance, Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen, and Joss Stone - remember her?!), and try to battle my way through the trying times that are your teen years when you're trying to be unique and stand out but also blend in with everyone else. I lived for Project Runway and seeing what catwalk releases the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen would be releasing and it was very much something I just did without any questioning. It was just part of me and my personality. Clothes still pay a huge role in my life now and fashion is something I very much follow whether it's browsing Japanese and Korean street style sites (I literally can lose hours of my day doing this), reading my favourite blogs, watching YouTube videos, or just people watching out and about in my home city for some inspiration, it's always there and it's readily available.

Although fashion is incredibly central to my interests, its something I've kind of always had a love hate relationship with. I mean sure, I've always loved clothes and particularly personal style which is why I guess I read personal style blogs and started one myself, but I have a huge gripe to pick with fashion. It can be such a damaging industry and unfortunately, I've been involved in it.

As a teen I obviously didn't give a hoot about consumerism. It wasn't a word I even fully understood until I started studying Sociology at college, and it was something that just wasn't of interest. Fast forward to now and it's something that has been niggling away at me for a few months. We are all consumers as we all buy goods to survive - whether that's food, clothing, technology; we all play a part as a consumer. However something that's been getting to me is the world of "fast fashion" and the fact that this has become a term so readily used in society today. As a consumer, brands and companies will encourage you to acquire their goods whether you really need them or not. For example, how many of us have gone into a supermarket and spotted a "Buy One Get One Free" offer and quickly snapped it up? I'd be willing to bet almost all of us have. Whilst that's not particularly damaging at all, I would also be willing to bet that a lot of us have taken part in a deal or sale like that on things that actually? We didn't even really want or need when we stepped foot into that store. I've been guilty of this in the past and especially when it comes to fashion, I feel I need to take a step back.

So I've thrown that term "fast fashion" out there, but what do I actually mean? This term has recently been making waves online as many people are realising that when it comes to clothing, we are as a species incredibly wasteful and we are damaging our planet as a result. The idea that we consume fashion at a high rate isn't something new or different, but I do believe it is something that is becoming increasingly common as trends and *what's in* is rapidly changing - sometimes from week to week - and honestly? It's a surprise anyone can even keep up. But alas, many of us do and it's ever apparent in the blogging world just how much we consume, use lightly, then discard on an annual basis. Have you ever picked up a dress in Primark, it's got a sale sticker on it for £3 and you think "bargain - I'm having that!"? Yeah? My hand is up too, don't worry. Has this then been something you've got home, maybe worn once or maybe not at all, then you've had to give it away or it's still there somewhere, buried beneath other items in your wardrobe? Yep, got my hand up again too. This constant consumption of fashion is something many of us do without really thinking about it but I've decided I'm taking steps to stop this mindset from snowballing any further and trying my best to become more sustainable.

If I'm completely honest, I've never been too bad when it comes to spending on fast fashion. I still have items of clothing from my teen years and will continue to wear them until they fall apart. If I buy anything new, it's got to be something I really love and know I will wear often otherwise I will return it. I'm also a massive scrooge with my money and therefore tend to buy things which are cheap or affordable or second hand. Now, this isn't me backtracking and saying I'm not responsible because by equal measure I buy a lot of shit I just don't need and end up not using. Statistics show I'm not the only one as clothing production has doubled since 2OO2 and the average consumer now buys 6O% more clothing items on average every year than they did 15 years ago. Retailers and brands now have a much quicker turnaround when it comes to what is *on trend* which unfortunately in turn means consumers like you or I are more likely to throw away our stuff at more alarmingly high rates. Since 2OO2, the lifecycle of clothing has shortened to just 5O% of what it used to be, meaning that lots of brands are cashing in on this by doing subtle things like making consumers think they need to constantly "invest" in budget or basic items (I'm looking at you basic tees). This bizarre mentality could be a change in culture, society, morals, concerns etc etc etc. but what the cause is isn't the worry - how to stop it because of it's impact on the earth is.

For me, one of the most concerning things about fast fashion is not only the rapid rate of which we consume and spit it out, but also the effort and materials going into such items which are causing harm to the environment. Most modern items of clothing include synthetic fibres such as polyester which emits 3 times more carbon dioxide than cotton and requires fossil fuels to be burned in order to produce it. Obviously this puts its carbon footprint on the world much higher than the likes of natural materials such as cotton. The 'ingredients' of modern clothing are not the only bad thing, but also the use of harmful chemicals and amount of water needed to create items which then aren't even fully used or utilised after production. We're in a bit of a pickle with this and I guess it's started to pull on my heart strings a little.

I'll be honest - I'm never going to sit here and say I won't be buying any more clothes because come on now, that would be an outright lie. But I am trying to educate myself more about sustainable and eco-friendly fashion whilst also downsizing my wardrobe and changing my shopping mindset. I might like fashion blogging and getting involved in new trends which suit my style and personal likes, but I won't be buying into anything just for the sake of it so I don't get told off by the fashion police for still being in "ew, that's so last season 2OO4" outfits. My first move has been to completely declutter everything and be ruthless with my current collection of clothes. If you follow me on Twitter than you will have already seen how successful this mission was as I've filled 4 huge grocery shopper bags with clothes to sell second hand and to donate. Fast fashion is unfortunately always going to be there, but getting rid of things you don't use is a great first step to make as this might prevent people from going out and buying new; it keeps items in circulation instead of them going to landfill (even though 95% of what we chuck away could be recycled/upcycled!). Another great thing to do is to make sure you buy second hand where you can as well! I'm not saying you've got to be strict with yourself, but look on the likes of Depop and eBay if you're after a particular item and that way you are not buying into more modern shite and you might avoid impulse purchases with a clear item-goal in mind.

This is a journey I'm only just starting myself so I can't give too many facts and figures as it's all a huge learning curve for me. In a couple of months time I'll be posting my top tips of things you can do which can make you more consumer conscious in the fashion world and give you all an update on how I am finding the whole experience. For me, the idea behind this whole movement isn't just about being kinder to our environment but also making me aware of how to be content and fulfilled with what I do have instead of constantly seeking out what I don't and thinking that it can fill some void. It's also about being more conscious of others who don't have the luxury to go shopping once a week buying brand new items and keeping "in" with the latest trends - it's about thinking how you can benefit those less fortunate and how we all could try and change this industry I still dearly love for the better.

Hopefully this post hasn't been too ranty as that's not what I want you take away from it. I just wanted to jot down my thoughts on all of this as it's something that is fresh in my mind and in my changing lifestyle but is also something I already feel incredibly passionate about. In the light of Fashion Revolution Week last week which saw many of us take to social media to ask brands to be transparent and tell us exactly who made our clothes and where, this whole topic couldn't be more current to chat about. If you'd like more information on fast fashion and the impact it is having on the globe, Greenpeace released a fantastic online info booklet right before the infamous Black Friday sales to highlight the damage this is having and also regularly produce great articles and blog posts that get right down to the nitty gritty like this one.

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