Climate Crisis and the Environment

The One Pence per Garment Charge Aiming to Reverse the Dangers of Fast Fashion

In the age of fast fashion and throwaway trends, MPs have proposed that manufacturers should be charged 1p per item of clothing that they make.

With high street brands like Primark, New Look and H&M churning out new styles at a rapid rate and cheap sales no longer reserved only for Boxing Day, we are buying more and more low-quality, low-price clothing without thinking twice. The problem is this: our cheap clothes are not designed to last, and as a result, we are all part of a “throw away” society.

“improving clothes collection and recycling points”

According to a recent report from The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), 300,000 tonnes of perfectly usable materials are wasted annually. The purpose of the 1p garment charge is to raise funds to go towards improving clothes collection and recycling points and to encouraging a more economic and environmental system of reusing recyclable materials. The report indicates that this initiative could raise £35 million yearly to benefit the scheme.

“we are all part of a “throw away” society”

Fast fashion has numerous negative effects on the environment. Clothing brands contribute to greenhouse gases, water pollution, air pollution and over-use of water to both the production and sales of fashion items. Recently, man-made fibers have been found in the stomachs of fish and other sea creatures after waste has made its way into the oceans.

Yet, this is not even the most shocking issue. In a world where millions of people do not have access to clean water, 2,700 litres of water is used to make just one cotton shirt. The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) have equated this number to the amount of water drunk by one person over two and a half years. Considering how many shirts will be made, just to be binned when a button falls off, the style goes out of fashion, or a red wine stain is just a bit too stubborn, we have to question whether this is a viable use of water.

“change the throw away mentality”

So, what can we be doing to improve this situation? Firstly, shop vintage! Vintage is timeless, vintage is cheap, and best of all vintage clothing is environmentally friendly. And while you are out there picking out recycled clothing, grab a needle and thread!

MPs have suggested that basic sewing and mending skills be taught in schools. The aim of this is not only to give people the ability to fix their clothes, but to change the throw away mentality often seen in younger generations. And finally, just because that top, the one you will probably never actually wear but do sort of like is an absolute steal in the sale, doesn’t mean you need it…

Lois Barton

Articles Used:

Featured image courtesy of alexander.mussard via Flickr. No changes were made to this image. Image license found here.

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