Is it time for fast fashion clothing hauls to stop?
Spend more than five minutes on YouTube these days and you’ll see an enormous number of haul videos.
YouTubers showing off bagfuls of items they’ve bought, often from stores like Primark or Shein. It’s a similar story on Instagram.
I can see the appeal of content about fast fashion.
If shops have a rapid turnover of stock, there’s a ready supply of new items to feature in videos. And the videos help shoppers, too, alerting them to items in store that might not be around for too long.
The Problem with Fast Fashion
But are these YouTube videos helping to perpetuate a rather big and scary problem?
I read news this week that the government is launching an inquiry into how the fashion industry can be more sustainable. Looking a bit deeper into the story, I was honestly horrified by what I read.
- Clothing production has doubled since 2014
- But the number of times we wear clothing has fallen by as much as 70%
- Less than 1% of clothing is recycled
- We spend £82m a year in the UK putting clothes into landfill
Long story short: we need to buy fewer clothes. We need to keep our clothes for longer. And we need to do a better job at recycling clothes when we are done with them.
Actually, it’s hard for your average punter to do much about recycling clothes.
Most clothes today are actually designed in a way that makes them hard to recycle. You can bundle them up and take them to the recycling centre, but chances are they’ll then wind up being sold overseas, wrecking someone else’s economy and clothing industry
What Can We Do?
Probably the best bet at this point is passing clothes along to friends and family, or your friendly high street charity shop.
Where we can make a HUGE difference to this issue is buying less stuff. Buying better stuff, and wearing it for longer. We need to stop buying fast fashion, full stop.
Which brings me to those haul videos.
Having a look around YouTube last night, I can see plenty of YouTubers who are sharing 2-3 hauls per month. Quite apart from making me wonder just how big their wardrobes are, and just how many things from Poundland one woman can use, there’s another question. Is this even a responsible thing to do, given what we know in 2018?
On Instagram too, there are plenty of influencers who share new outfits and clothing items almost weekly – it’s a core part of their content strategy.
But should it be?
This post isn’t about judging anyone, by the way. Flea has some t-shirts and pyjamas from Primark. We’re not regular shoppers but we’ve certainly crossed the threshold a couple of times.
And I suspect lots of people simply don’t realise how big of a problem this is. It’s HUGE. Experts predict that by 2050, clothing is going to account for a quarter of the world’s carbon budget. That’s scary.
The clothing industry needs to be involved, in designing clothes that have a specific lifespan in mind, and which are easier for us to recycle effectively. But we have a part to play too.
In our household, one of us *looks at Flea* is a bigger fan of clothes shopping than the other. Generally, though, I do insist Flea buys good quality items, that are passed along to friends, or the charity shop, once she’s grown out of them.
But I still think we can make more of an effort to reduce our clothing budget, and ensure that our clothes are disposed of responsibly.
I love the idea of schemes by retailers such as TK Maxx and John Lewis that encourage consumers to return clothes for recycling, in exchange for vouchers or to raise funds for charity. You can also swap your old clothes for vouchers using the ReGAIN app.
Maybe those of us using social media can play a part, by ditching the hauls, and not urging people to go and buy five new outfits this weekend, just because it’s all so cheap. It’s incredibly tempting to use fast fashion as a cheap and easy way to generate new content – and I’m not sure that’s helpful.
How about showing wardrobe dives and reusing those clothes you bought one, two or five years ago? How about showing the benefits of sharing clothes you no longer wear with friends and family?
Or if you’re making a haul, how about making mention of where those clothes could be recycled down the line? Maybe a link or disclaimer could be added to videos, encouraging people to buy, and dispose of clothing responsibly?
I’d love to know what you think. Does the recent news about the impact of fast fashion make you think twice about how – and how often – you shop?