It does not always have to be fast fashion
Our every day with “fast fashion”.
I am sure you have heard the term “fast fashion”, perhaps not very familiar with it, but I believe you know some of those products from famous fast fashion brands such as ZARA, H&M, Cotton On, Bershka .etc….right? Of course, so did. Cheap, stores easily accessible, frequent discounts, new designs every week, that seems perfect, so why not?
But wait a minute, everything comes with a price, and with all those merits you found in fast fashion, the price is destroying our environment.
Let’s first take a local look at Australia. Australians acquire on average 27 kilos of new clothing each person, wow that’s really heavy isn’t it……, and throw away 23 kilos annually. 800,000 tonnes of clothing and textiles are thrown each year, and 90% of them eventually end up in a landfill. That data stunned me, clearly, we all have an addiction to fast fashion…I don’t think we have any sign of slowing down, and Generation Z contributes to most sales of fast fashion products nowadays and half of them shop more than once a week for fast fashion brands, that includes me. I used to be an avid fast fashion consumer, and being a student, buying luxurious clothes is definitely not my option, but I also don’t want to miss the trend. So buying clothes from those fast fashion brands frequently became my first option. Constantly changing your everyday style and with only a cheap price, I thought that was perfect.
Yea…Well…Honestly, I didn’t even know or care about all these data and the fact that fast fashion would hurt our environment if I did not meet that person from my neighborhood last month. I think I was not even familiar with the term “fast fashion” before. All I knew and did was to follow my own habit, frequently buying new closes from those stores I commonly see in the shopping mall. So now let me share with you what happened to me and why my view towards fast fashion changed utterly.
Let Me tell you my own story
A month ago, when I feel a sudden thrill of wind blowing past me, it reminded me that autumn has come, it was time for me to buy some new clothes that are warm enough and get ready for winter. Every year at this time, I will pack my old clothes and put them in the donation box in my neighborhood. I always did that with pride, because I believe the clothes I don’t want to wear will be precious for people from poverty areas, the kids who are in financial difficulties. One month ago, I freed the entire day to do the packing, picking all those outdated clothes I bought only because they were so cheap, and did not even wear them once. While I was packing, I question myself: Why did I buy so many clothes that I didn’t even wear? A quick feeling of guilt passed through my mind, but I convinced myself quickly, that is perfectly fine, buying those clothes satisfied my will of shopping and keep with the trend, and they didn’t cause any financial issues for me as well (because during sales, some of them may sometimes be only a few dollars.) When I don’t need them anymore, I can always donate them to those poor kids. I started to imagine, picturing kids with financial difficulties happily wearing the clothes I donated. I was so sure that those clothes I don’t want, will eventually go somewhere they belong. (uh huh! Just realized by saying “somewhere they belong” sounds a little bit ironic after I tell you my story.)
When I prepare to put those thee huge bags in the donation box, a sanitation worker walked to me.
“Hypocrite! You young people really don’t know what you are doing….” The sanitation worker sighed and said angrily.
…..? What is she talking about? Us young people? Hypocrite? Is that age discrimination or what? So offensive. What is wrong with donating clothes that I don’t need anymore? I stared back at her with confusion and irritation.
“Do you know what will all your garbage ended up? The landfill, those staff you are holding, you bought them from the shops can’t even be called clothes, those can’t even meet the donation standards, those are garbage.” She got angry and gradually raised her voice.
“What are you talking about? These are just clothes, perhaps they are not so expensive but they are definitely not as bad as what you say ok? People from poverty areas are going to need them, I think I am doing the right thing…” I tried to explain because I still didn’t know why she got so angry.
“No, no, no no no…. You got me wrong. Take a look at the clothes you are holding, just a random one, and take a look at the tag at the back, I bet that will be 100% polyester, search what that is, and I believe you know what I mean….” The sanitation worker sighed again and walked away.
I decided to listen to her, and I rushed back home, pulled out a shirt, and looked at the tag at the back. The phrase “100% Polyester” appeared. I was very shocked, I never paid attention to what is the exact material that my clothes are being made of, I always just assume they are made of cotton, or at least mostly cotton.
I searched on the internet and found some information that made me feel very guilty. Because I found that the brands I liked to buy are typical fast fashion brands, the fate of those clothes I donated will either be incinerated or buried in landfill. Worse, burning those low-quality clothes will emit harmful and even poisonous gases which will cause irreversible damage to our health and pollute water resources. Synthetic fibers will take 20 to hundreds of years to degrade in landfills because they are not biodegradable at all. With those pictures online, a strong feeling of guilt rises…..
I had a really terrible dream that night, I dreamed about one of those 100% polyester clothes I bought (a piece of weird pink T-shirt with only one sleeve) suddenly having limbs and a huge head, its eyes were shining with creepy red light and walking like a zombie. It dashes towards me and I smelled like garbage, in the dream it reminds me about perhaps that is what a landfill smells like.
Ew! I shout silently. I turned and run away, but its arm suddenly expands and caught me immediately, it was screaming and pulled me backward, I bumped into the wall and felt extremely dizzy. The shirt open its mouth and was trying to swallow me.
“Ahhhhhh!!” I screamed and woke up.
After that, my first step toward sustainability
So why must it be fast fashion?! I really don’t see why we have to hurt our environment that way and create so much waste.
If you are really so confused by those newly developed sustainable brands or worrying about other aspects, we can always build our own fashion from a tiny ball of yarn! Why not join me and do some knitting together? Of course by using sustainable materials. This is one of the most meaningful sustainable habits I developed recently. I bought the eco-farmed organic cotton yarn, and wool, which is super durable and long-lasting, and different from synthetic fiber which will shed ocean-polluting micro substances. And do you know bamboo fiber can also be made into yarn? (I didn’t know that and I was so curious so I also bought some!) It is the perfect fit for sensitive skin, and I will turn it into a cute sweater for my friend Jane who seems to have had an allergy recently.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I didn’t see a sign of the trend in fast fashion slowing down. But since I have successfully convinced three of my friends to start knitting with me, I am starting to feel that perhaps I can also be one of those change-makers, and my sustainable habits can be a “call to action” process, making people around me also to take their first step towards sustainability. I feel so so satisfied and have a huge sense of achievement.
And you know what? My friends and I decided to show each other our final work by giving each other a knitwear as Christmas present, I am so looking forward to it, and I decided to knit a sweater and a wool scarf for them. It is so exciting to see and know we are contributing to the sustainability of this planet’s future, just by reducing the consumption of fast fashion clothes and using our leisure time to create a piece of sustainable and useful artwork.
I sincerely hope my sharing, my story, and the sustainable ideas I mentioned in my blog can give you some inspiration, an introduction to sustainability, and what can we do to save our planet step by step, day by day. Looking forward to seeing your sustainability stories!
Oops, it’s already mid-October, if I don’t want to give my friends only balls of yarn as Christmas presents, I would better get started now, see you next time!
Bawn, C. (2021). Knitting Yarn: How can you be more sustainable? Retrieved from
Schultz, A. (2022). The problem with fast fashion and how it’s killing the planet. Retrieved from
Feiam, A. (2019). What Does the Average Fast Fashion Shopper Look Like? Retrieved from
Le, N. (2020). The Impact of Fast Fashion on the Environment. Retrieved from