Christmas is swiftly approaching, and many of us will classically leave our Christmas shopping until the very last minute. It's always stressful buying gifts for all our loved ones, making sure that we’ve covered all bases and are buying gifts that will be cherished. Clothing is always a good option, and is something we all need, but when buying into fashion as gifts this Christmas, we suggest that fast fashion could be the worst option, and we’ll tell you why.
While buying fast fashion is much more affordable and often accessible to the mass market, the cost of it is much worse for the planet than buying from more sustainable brands. Over half of fast fashion garments are only worn for around 1 year, and end up in landfill afterwards. Many of these items will take hundreds of years to break down, leading to more waste and the emission of toxic gases and chemicals. Buying garments made from organic and sustainable materials means that they will break down much quicker, and are much safer for the planet.
Making clothing on such a large scale and at such high speeds means cheap materials are used - keeping costs low for the company and for consumers - and in a world where poverty is at a high, many people rely on inexpensive clothing. But this low cost comes at a price. Fast fashion clothing is made with planned obsolescence, meaning that it is designed to be damaged or ruined easily, contributing to its low-wear, throwaway nature. The materials used in fast fashion manufacture are lower quality, and are most often not natural materials like cotton or wool, but usually synthetic fibres, which can end up in our oceans and water systems - with each wash, around 1,900 microfibres are leaked into small aquatic organisms.
It’s also estimated that 20% of the world’s water pollution is as a result of the fashion industry’s dyeing and cultivation processes, with over 800 chemicals used to transform raw materials into fabrics. SO even while these clothes are being manufactured, there are many damaging effects to the planet.
It is not only more eco-conscious to buy clothing which is made to last, but can also save you money in the long run, because your clothing lasts longer and saves the need to buy new as regularly.
Finally, fast fashion brands can afford to produce their garments for low prices, as often the clothing is made in sweatshops. Many brands still use these sweatshops in the far east, paying their workers less than minimum wage, and forcing them into poor working conditions. Not much has actually changed since the Rana Plaza Disaster, when a factory collapsed and killed at least 1,132 people in 2013.
Buying into these brands means that you are effectively supporting this manufacturing technique, which is exploitative and dangerous to workers. We suggest buying from slow-fashion brands, whose production methods are much safer and more ethical.
When shopping for clothes this Christmas (and beyond), we should all really be thinking about the effects of our spending on people and the planet, as it is now more important than ever that we are all doing our bit to help slow the effects of climate change, before it's too late.
At Birdsong, we pay all our workers the London living wage, and work with women and communities to help give back locally. All our clothing is made to order, meaning that waste is reduced from the word go. We upcycle all our offcuts into wearable scrunchies and facemasks, and source only the most sustainable materials we can, whether that's naturally derived - like TENCEL™ Lyocell which is made from wood, or reclaimed materials which we save from landfill, everything is sourced in the most eco-conscious way.
Gifting sustainably this Christmas doesn't have to be hard. Here are our top 5 picks for gifting this Christmas: