We all love a cheap pair of jeans or t-shirt and as a student sometimes it is hard to not give in to the bargains. But what is the true cost of fast fashion? And what can we do, on a budget, to minimise it’s affect on the environment.
There is a lot which doesn’t appear on the label when it comes to making that shirt you are wearing, for example 2,700 litres of water is needed to make one t shirt. Research carried out by Sustain your Style found that 20% of industrial water pollution comes from textiles treatment and 1.5 trillion litres of water is used by the fashion industry each year.
Although the impact on the environment is heavy, so is worker wellbeing with European factories paying on average only 30% of the minimum wage according to Clean Clothes Campaign.
A survey of University students in the UK showed that although 75% of them buy clothes every month they rarely think about what impact this has on the environment or it’s sustainability and that for 50% of them their priority when buying clothes is price. 90% of students who answered the survey feel like they cannot afford sustainable clothing, one student even saying, ‘thrifting and research into sustainable clothing is more time consuming and as a student I cant spare the time.’
Here at the University of Gloucestershire, the UoG sustainability group offer advice and tips to students so they can avoid giving into fast fashion, even if they are down to their last pound, ‘Shopping at charity shops and upcycling items for example can reduce textile waste, save money and also benefit good causes. ‘ Cheltenham has a wide range of charity and thrift shop from the high street to bath road and everywhere in between, which students can use to get their fashion fix without breaking the bank or contributing to fast fashion.
University of Gloucestershire is hoping to prevent this environmental issue from the source, ‘Our fashion design course is helping students to consider more ethical and sustainable approaches to fashion.’ Senior lecturer of Fashion Design at the university, Margaret Mcdonough, said the course, ‘is built around the principles of sustainability, it is integrated into every module.’ She expressed the importance of educating young people about the threat, ‘The students are intrenched in some aspect of what it means to design ethically or sustainably and they interpret that in their work and projects.’ When asked about they industries view of fast fashion she had this to say, ‘In recent years we are all waking up to the issues of fast fashion. It is the 3rd most environmentally unsustainable industry’.