What is “fast fashion” and what is it doing to the Earth?

Sisilia in thrifted outfit photographed by Haley Eyre

The Problem

What is “fast fashion” and what is it doing to the Earth? Trends come and go quickly and there is high demand for fast and inexpensive manufacturing. Because these items are made quickly and cheaply, the term “fast fashion” is synonymous with “throw-away fashion”. Once a trend has passed, and because the product didn’t cost the consumer much, it’s easily tossed in the trash. North Americans throw 9.5 million tonnes of textiles in the landfill every year; approximately 81lbs of clothing per person per year. The amount of new clothing being produced annually has double what it was 18 years ago; exceeding 100 billion articles. This amount of clothing production is also taking a toll on the environment. The production of new clothing uses 1/3 of the world’s fresh water supply. Textile dyeing is estimated to contribute to 17-20% of the world’s total industrial water pollution. The manufacturing of polyester and other synthetic fabrics release emissions such as volatile organic compounds and acid gases, which can cause respiratory disease, and requires large amounts of crude oil. Even natural fibers such as cotton can have a negative environmental impact. Right now, according to the USDA, cotton uses a quarter of all pesticides in the United States. Clothing production causes 10% of the global carbon impact. So what can we do? How can we reduce our “fast fashion” consumption?

Sarah in thrifted outfit photographed by Haley Eyre

Clothing Trades

If you’ve got some articles of clothing that you’ve outgrown, physically or mentally, get some friends together and trade clothing. This is great way to save money and make sure your clothing gets a few more years of good use. Clothing trade parties can also be a fantastic way to swap; spend an afternoon or an evening with friends, trading clothes over a bottle of wine or some snacks.

Hana in thrifted outfit photographed by Haley Eyre


Consignment stores have been popping up everywhere recently, even online. Consignment is a great way to make some money from your outgrown clothing, and also a great way to shop, if that’s part of the fun for you! How does a consignment store work? Once you’ve outgrown your clothing, bring them down to your local consignment store and open an account. They will sort, price, and sell your items for you. The best part is you get a cut of the profits! Most of these stores only accept on trend or in season fashions. Many consignment stores give money or store credit, so pick a consignment store you like shopping at.

Matthew in thrifted outfit photographed by Haley Eyre


Sometimes the items you’ve outgrown aren’t in style anymore and won’t be accepted by consignment stores; so what do you do? Take these items to your local thrift store, sometimes you’ll even get a discount card for donating; make sure to ask! Shopping at thrift stores can be really fun, and you’d be surprised at stylish items you can find there. My personal favourite part of thrift shopping is the low prices; you can find so many great deals here, which is great for those with lower incomes or those who just want to save a few bucks.

Chloe in consigned outfit photographed by Haley Eyre


Donate your outgrown items to charities who are asking for them. A quick search online will point you in the direction of your local charities, and where you can drop off your clothing. Sometimes things just can’t be sold, such as old ratty towels. But don’t throw those away just yet! Many animal shelters are in need of your old towels; donating doesn’t just have to help our two legged friends.

Mariah in thrifted outfit photographed by Haley Eyre

Reuse and Repurpose

This one requires a bit of creativity and is another great way to reuse clothing that may not be in the best shape. Stitch together old t-shirts and sweaters to create a warm quilt. Use the fabric from one piece of clothing to create another. DIYing with your old textiles is a great way to save money and is very easy. A quick search online will provide you with endless ideas. At the end of the day, you don’t even need to get creative with your holey clothing, just mend it, maybe add a patch or two.

Robin in thrifted outfit photographed by Haley Eyre


If none of the above are possible, consider recycling your clothing by dropping it off at your local textile recycling spot. This information will be available online. The City of Calgary has free textile recycling at every city landfill; place your textiles in a bag and drop them into a marked Throw ‘N’ Go bin. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Roccio in thrifted outfit photographed by Haley Eyre

All models are wearing recycled clothing!

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