STUDENT BLOG: The true cost of throwaway fast fashion

Sixth former GRACE WITHYMAN explains why students are reacting against throwaway fast fashion by holding their own recycled clothing sale on November 29

HAVE you ever bought a cheap item of clothing which you’ve worn once or twice before throwing it away? Enticed by so many fashionable clothes on offer at such low prices on the high street, lots of us have done it.

But this has a huge detrimental impact on our planet, with this type of throwaway fast fashion being a major contributor to greenhouse gases, water and air pollution while creating problematic levels of waste.

Some of the fast fashion industry’s big brands don’t just manufacture their clothes in unsustainable ways, they have also been condemned for adhering to unethical working standards for those who make their clothes.

Cheap clothing can come with a social as well as environmental cost. Often the true cost of fast fashion isn’t being paid by us – it’s being paid by the environment and low-cost workers overseas who can’t afford to provide for their families.

That’s why our sixth form eco-society has organised an up-cycle charity event on November 29* whereby second hand clothes in good condition, and suitable for secondary school age students, will be brought in and sold, with the funds going to the marine conservation charity Surfers Against Sewage.

Essentially, we will be creating our own mini charity shop for students in school to encourage them to purchase less from big, fast fashion chain companies, and suggest alternative ways to buy clothes.

We aim to inform members of the school about these issues surrounding fast fashion whilst we host the event, to make everyone more aware of the chain reaction caused by buying into fast fashion.

We can all help by buying less, not wearing things just once before we throw them out and repairing and re-working garments. We can wash our clothes less at low temperatures in a full machine, buy second hand and recycle to extend the life of garments.

Also, when buying clothes, it’s better to choose natural materials – synthetic fabrics release microfibres that can pollute the marine environment, as highlighted by the BBC’s Blue Planet programme.

Consider renting rather than buying items and check brands before you buy to find out more about their ethics and working conditions.

As the eco-society, we are constantly doing our best to evoke positive ways we can all make a difference to the environment, like proposing the idea of stopping selling plastic water bottles at break and lunch time; which school officers took on throughout Charity Week.

We feel that actions like this, and our new charity clothes sale, will demonstrate how easy it is to make small changes to our lifestyle, that so greatly benefit the environment.

*Further details about this event will be emailed to students and parents.


*Disposing of clothing and household textiles costs the UK alone about £82m a year, according to the government-backed recycling charity Wrap.

*Fashion shoppers spent £3.5bn on Christmas party shopping last year – but 8m of those sparkly items will be on their way to landfill after just one wear.

*Overall the fashion industry as a whole is contributing more to climate change than the aeronautical and shipping industries combined. If this trend continues the industry could account for a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050.

*In the past 15 years, global clothing production has doubled to meet demand.

*More than half of all fashion items are thrown away in less than a year.