By Alessandra Gamba
Picture credit: The Daily Chomp
It’s another beautiful, sunny and relatively warm day in London…in February. How is this possible?! Where is the rain? Where are the clouds? The dreary grey sky and wet concrete? This time last year when I was in London, I was covered in a thick jacket, gloves, vest, beanie, scarf, wool socks and boots, treading through the wet snow and typical London weather.
This made me start thinking about how much our planet is changing. It is almost impossible to miss now. And, at first, I thought: ‘how could these massive industrial and technological powers impact our planet like this?’ But, I had to think, ‘how much have I, as an individual consumer, contribute to this impact?’
I understand this is a hot topic and that this issue cannot be addressed to one single industry or to a specific company, but I started analysing one component of it: waste and overconsumption. As a woman born and raised in Italy – where everyone is crazy about food, football and fashion – living in London, which is one of fashion’s capitals, I had to start my reflection about my contribution and it became clear – clothes. If I think about my behaviour as a consumer, I definitely bought many – maybe too many – clothes and accessories, which I probably used once or twice and that I then stored somewhere in my closet.
Unfortunately, this is not something unique to me and the issue is spread. In fact, “We buy more clothes per person in the UK than any other country in Europe […] By 2030 global apparel consumption is projected to rise by 63%, from 62 million tons today to 102 million tons—equivalent to more than 500 billion additional T-shirts. The UN says that by 2050 the equivalent of almost three planets could be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles given the growth in global population” (House of Commons, Environmental Audit Committee, 2019).
Change is not easy. I love fashion – just like a lot of other people. That nice dress can make your day better; those brand-new pair of shoes can make you feel happy. What needs to be changed is way we access clothes and we use them. Right now, the industry is very linear – buy, use, dispose. This causes an immense amount of waste and, as a society, we have to start being more conscious: clothes (and not only them) should be redistributed instead of thrown away. We need to change the economic model to being more circular – the circular economy.
I see that for big fashion brands this situation could be perceived as a threat for brand image and valuation, but I also believe that, once everyone is aware of what waste can cause to the world we live in, companies will be more than happy about changing the way they operate. The change in behaviour will make the world a better, more sustainable, place. We can all still enjoy the happiness that fashion give us, while not damaging our planet.
I will never complain about a warm, sunny day in London; but not at the cost of the planet.
House of Commons, Environmental Audit Committee (2019). Fixing fashion: clothing consumption and sustainability. Sixteenth Report of Session 2017–19. [online] London. Available at: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmenvaud/1952/1952.pdf [Accessed 19 Feb. 2019].