The fast fashion impact on the environment

Deborah Smailes, a fashion lecturer at Conde Nast College of Fashion, London and Manchester Metropolitan University

Deborah Smailes, a fashion lecturer at Conde Nast College of Fashion, London and Manchester Metropolitan University, spoke to Elsenham WI - Credit: Elsenham WI

Deborah Smailes, a fashion lecturer at Conde Nast College of Fashion, London and Manchester Metropolitan University spoke about the pitfalls of the ‘fast fashion’ industry at a recent Elsenham WI meeting.

This included that chemical dyes can end up in rivers, fabrics such a polyester can release micro plastic particles and awareness of how some sections of the industry treats workers.

The meeting heard that attitudes are changing as people become more aware of the environmental and ethical impact of the things they buy.

There is now more focus on buying second hand as well as creating clothing that is kinder to the environment.

There are also more innovative ideas like turning food waste into fabric and microbes that eat polyester.


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The evening's Show and Tell competition asked members to share an item that had been recycled or upcycled from old garments.

Members were also asked to make a ‘fixing fast fashion’ pledge, such as to ‘only buy second hand’ for the rest of the year.

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The WI is part of The Climate Coalition. Over the past five years, the National Federation of WIs have been recruiting Climate Ambassadors - WI members who feel passionately about the issue of climate change and who want to raise awareness locally and nationally. 

Their annual Show the Love campaign aims at raising awareness of things they want to protect from climate change.

Gill Hathaway, one of the Climate Ambassadors and Secretary at Elsenham WI, said: "We all have an urgent responsibility to do whatever we can to reduce our impact on the environment and contribute to a kinder world."

Elsenham WI has a full programme of activities online. For more information, email elsenhamwi@gmail.com or search for Elsenham WI on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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