I walk into my local store, let’s call it a Zara because of course we are in London, and I buy a dress that’s £30. I love the dress and I go back to get a similar one in the same month, another £30. I look great, feel great, and love the dresses, promising to reuse them. Everything is fine in my world and I hold no remorse. But what have I actually done? This £60 had to come at some price.
Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, executive director of a conservation non-profit against plastic pollution, tells me that I have contributed 6 pounds of waste to the landfill. 6 pounds from just one human. From just me. Now, London alone holds a population of over 8 million people. What are we doing to ourselves? Slowly and surely, we are destroying our landfills and making headlines for global plastic waste. The market for synthetic goods, unlike natural materials that can be broken down, introduces the phenomenon of plastic’s decomposition and the fundamental setbacks it has on our societies. Plastic can only break into smaller and smaller pieces, eventually becoming micro-fibres that cannot be filtered or captured. This means every time you innocently wash your synthetic fleece jacket, close to 250,000 micro-fibres are released and filter down into our ocean and food chain, two un-negotiable factors of life.
So, where do we go from here? There are solutions. Awareness, education, recycling, legislation; the list can go on. It is imperative we move towards natural fabrics and infiltrate legislation for better plastic pollution management and recycling laws. It is in our hands not to just recognise these solutions, but to instead implement them as our new norms.
The business of fashion today is no longer about everyone’s outfits of the day on Instagram, fast fashion, and synthetic style- that’s old news. Who wants to see the same thing over and over? Be just another of many? What you buy in your Zara today isn’t going to last for generations, and in that fast fashion relationship we lose the romance that is style. Fashion, indeed, is fleeting, and ending our contributions to plastic pollution before we become out of touch with fashion’s mission is, at this point, required.
It filters down to common sense: we must save our oceans and wildlife. We must save ourselves. We have done the crimes, been told the truths, and still sit silent in the face of a turning world. Why not bring back a passion fuelled by good works? Let us justify fashion as the pure, expressionist art it truly is.