MPs investigate fast fashion climate crisis

In the bin: Around the world, one truckload of clothing is thrown away every second.

Should we own fewer clothes? The government is investigating the environmental impact of Britain’s “fast fashion” culture. Currently, millions of items of clothing are wasted every year.

What’s happening

Is it wrong to sell a T-shirt for £2? That is the question MPs have been asking as they investigate the impact of “fast fashion”.

“Fast fashion” refers to clothes that are made cheaply. This encourages people to buy more than they need. It may seem like a bargain, but fast fashion can be very bad for the planet.

Find out more

On average, every person in Britain buys 26.7 kilograms of new clothes every year. This is is more than any other country in Europe.

Unfortunately, many of these items end up in the bin. Last year, Britain sent 235 million pieces of clothing to landfill. Around the world, one truckload of clothing is wasted every second.

That is not the only problem. The cheap materials that many of these items are made from release thousands of tiny fibres when washed. Very large amounts of these fibres end up in the ocean where they can poison fish that mistake them for food.

Many people think our throwaway culture is to blame, arguing that people should stop buying so much cheap clothing that ends up being wasted.

Should we own fewer clothes?

Some say…

Of course. There are many ways to cut down your clothing collection. Why not learn how to sew? Then you can repair garments if they tear. Having fewer clothes in the first place will also make you take better care of the ones you have. Whatever you do, try to avoid fast fashion items and go for clothes that will last.

Others think…

It is not as simple as that. As young people grow up, it is good for them try out different styles. Fashion is constantly changing too and people feel under pressure to keep up with the latest trends. Also, cheap clothing is extremely useful for those on a budget — we should not think badly of people who want to save their hard-earned money.

You Decide

  1. Is it wrong to buy a T-shirt for £2?

Activities

  1. Think about all the clothes you currently own. As a percentage, how many of these items do you no longer wear? Discuss with your classmates. Did you come up with similar percentages? Think of some ways in which you could get rid of your unwanted clothes in a sustainable way.

Some People Say...

“Buy less. Choose well. Make it last. Quality, not quantity. Everybody’s buying far too many clothes.”

Vivienne Westwood

What do you think?

Word Watch

Investigate
To carry out research into a topic.
Encourages
Persuade somebody to do something.
Bargain
Something that costs very little.
Landfill
When waste is buried underground.
Garments
Items of clothing.
Pressure
Something that pushes a person to act in a certain way.

Subjects

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