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You will also carry out a practical activity of working in teams to figure out ideas of converting second-hand clothing into useful items (i.e., draught excluder, pillow casing, etc.)!

  • the practice of fast fashion,
  • its social and environmental impacts,
  • and different alternative strategies to limit fast fashion/waste.


Welcome to the Attire Group of our COS2 Event! During this workshop, you will be exploring:

4. Practical task!

3. What can we do to reduce fast fashion?

2. What are the social and environmental impacts?


1. What is fast fashion, exactly?

What is fast fashion, exactly?

Fast fashion is the business model of producing, distributing and selling cheap, disposable and trendy clothing in massive quantities and as quickly as possible.

  • producing over 450 million clothing items every year,
  • creating over 500 designs a week
    • that results in almost 20,000 designs a year.

The process of fast fashion has been made possible due to vast changes in the speed and cost of manufacturing, becoming much cheaper and faster to produce clothing overseas in factories in continents such as Asia, that industries are telling us will help us "keep up with the trends" that are putting the workers producing these clothes and the environment at risk.

In practice, fast fashion brands produce monumental amounts of clothing, with Zara (one of the biggest fashion retailers in the world) in particular:

The habits and culture surrounding fashion weren't always as extreme as we see it now: in the 1960's, the average American adult purchased fewer than 25 items of clothing each year - today they now buy 70 items!

The fast fashion industry's practices across many different brands (i.e. Zara, H&M) , both in-person and online, has made it one of the world's largest (industry) polluters.

Fast fashion has been a major cause for a variety of social and environmental problems that are impacting the environment, workers in these supply chains and consumers, like ourselves, due to the companies that are engaging in these practices.

1. Environmental impacts

- The amount of textiles we are expected to waste by 2030 is 134 million tonnes!

2. 92 million tonnes of textile waste is produced per year (equivalent to a rubbish truck full of clothes being dumped at landfill every second)

- This is more than international flights and shipping combined!

1. Fast fashion and the wider fashion industry as a whole is responsibe for approximately 8 - 10% of global carbon emissions (UN Environment Report 2019)

4. 20% of all global wastewater is due to the fashion industry and fast fashion, where the during the dyeing and treating processes, hazardous chemicals are discharged into water bodies (i.e., rivers, lakes, seas, etc.)

- For a typical pair of jeans, it takes an average of approximately 9000 litres of water to grow enough cotton.

3. The fashion indsutry is the second largest industry consumer of water, which uses approximately 93 billion cubic metres of water every year.

2. Social impacts

3. Gender-based violence and harrassment, including verbal and physical abuse and sexual harrassment, is highly predominant in sweatshops where women are exploitated due to financial insecurities and patriarchal pressures throughout developing nations.

1. The working conditions in sweatshops that produce these types of clothing are gruelling; poor, unsafe and unhygienic, with workers' rights violations being commonplace as workers face extreme poverty from unpaid wages and hazardous risks from the production process (i.e., intensive washing, bleaching and dyeing) which can endanger workers' health and wellbeing.

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What can we do to reduce fast fashion?

Although the problem of fast fashion might feel dire and unsolveable, there are many actions that we can take in our daily lives to tackle the environmental and social impacts of fast fashion.

  • New designs with "on-trend" clothing with different styles being added every week in fashion lines from high-end shows.
  • Cheap prices of clothing in retail stores and online.
  • Low-quality, inexpensive materials that cause clothes to degrade after a few wears (i.e., polyester)
  • Lack of transparency and accountability for their sustainability and processes behind manufacturing (i.e., working conditions, etc.)

1. Identify fast fashion brands and their key features to avoid them:

  • Online platforms (i.e., Vinted, Depop) help you to buy second-hand clothing from previous owners for affordable prices in good quality condition to reuse preloved clothes.
  • These platforms help to reduce clothing waste that would otherwise go to landfill and offer people with cheaper alternatives to purchasing clothes compared to higher end clothing.

2. Buy and sell thrift clothes online:

  • Repairing old or damaged clothing can also help to prevent waste from being dumped at landfills and allow for your favourite and most treasured clothes to last longer, where worldwide the number of times a garment piece is worn before it is disposed has reduced by an average of 36% over two decades.

3. Repair and upcycle old or damaged clothing:

  • Through purchasing long-lasting, sustainable clothing items for your wardobe, you can reduce the amount of clothes you purchase that ultimately rely on mass amounts of natural resources (i.e., water), cause major pollution, and were made in manufacturing/work environemnts that have unsafe conditions.
  • You have the power in your hands!

4. Reduce consumption and not buy as many clothes:

To start, we will look through a selection of photos and videos of ideas of how people repair their clothes!

Practical Task!

After now having learnt about the issues of fast fashion, its impacts and alternative strategies, we want you all to take the rest of the workshop to complete a practical activity, which will be introduced an explained by Biggar pupils and Miss Campbell.

Have fun!

We hope those videos and photos helped inspire you!

You will now be handed out worksheets on converting second-hand rags for you to work together and come up with ideas on what to items you can make from them. You will be given detailed instructions and you will have the opportunity to grab rags out of the black bags promptly.

Thank you!

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