When it comes to sustainable fashion, we should take things slowly, says Biosphere Partner the One World Centre, one of those behind a new Isle of Man movement.
Slow Fashion Isle of Man is a campaign group led by the One World Centre and others to highlight the environmental and human impact of the fast fashion industry and encourage a more sustainable approach to clothing.
Everybody has heard of fast fashion – the quick and ceaseless turnover of the latest trends from the catwalks to the high street stores - but did you know there is an alternative slow fashion movement gathering speed?
Slow fashion is an approach that encourages us to appreciate a piece of clothing for longer than the latest fashion cycle, recognising the work that has gone into it and its environmental impact. Slow fashion encourages us to apply the principles of rethinking, reusing and recycling to our wardrobe contents.
As it stands, the fashion industry today is one of the world’s major polluters. It accounts for 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions and is the second-largest consumer of water worldwide. More than 500,000 tonnes of microfibres - the equivalent of nearly three billion polyester shirts - are released into the oceans each year through laundry and it’s estimated the equivalent of one garbage truck full of clothes is burned or dumped in a landfill every second.
But the environmental toll is not the only one – fast fashion has also been accused of human rights abuses with many garment workers, particularly in countries in South-East Asia, being made to work long hours in unsatisfactory conditions for little pay.
Supporters of the Island’s slow fashion movement at the One World Centre’s Global Village last year
So what can we do to support slow fashion? There are lots of ways we can reduce the negative impact our clothing has on the planet and on people. We can start by only buying what we need, and by buying quality clothing that will last and can be repaired to extend its life in the future. We can buy ethically-produced clothing – where workers are paid a fair wage and not forced to labour in sweatshop conditions.
We can buy locally-produced clothing to cut down on our environmental footprint and support local retailers. We can choose clothes made with sustainable cotton or recycled materials. We can buy or swap second hand clothing – the Isle of Man has some fantastic charity shops! – and when we no longer need an item we can reuse or recycle it ourselves.
As we have seen happen in other industries, the rise of low cost, mass produced clothing has encouraged a throwaway culture – with many items being bought and only worn once or twice before being discarded or left in the back of our cupboards.
But cheap clothing is anything but cheap in the long term. The environmental and human costs are high - and only likely to get more acute with the combined impacts of climate change and dwindling resources in the future.
We all need to do what we can to move to a more sustainable lifestyle. Slow fashion, along with other thoughtful consumerism, is one easy way we can all step up and make a positive difference starting right now.
Want to know more? Join the group at https://www.facebook.com/slowfashionisleofman/ and join in the discussion.
We also share news and ideas such as upcoming clothes swaps, mending and sewing services, and vintage clothing events.