The Future of Fast Fashion : Thrifting and other Alternatives

With all the wastage arising from the production of fast fashion clothing and the linear economy, there is a dire need for both producers and consumers to turn to alternatives in order to not further do damage to the Earth. Producers could find alternatives ways to produce clothes sustainably, like how some fast fashion brands like H&M are doing with their Conscious Collection. Clothing brands like Uniqlo are also urging consumers to recycle and donate back their old Uniqlo clothing to generate a fashion circular economy.

The linear “take-make-dispose” model above heavily relies on large quantities of easily accessible resources and energy, including cheap labour, which is becoming increasingly unfit for the reality now, due to its unsustainability. While fast fashion is big business, it is killing the planet, and it is important to reconsider the fashion industry model and our purchasing habits (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, n.d.). This brings us to producers moving towards a more circular economy.

A circular fashion economy is a regenerative system in which clothes are circulated for as long as their maximum value is retained, and then returned safely to the biosphere when they are no longer of use. In a circular model as shown below, products are designed and developed with the next use in mind. Less than 1% of clothing is recycled into new clothing (Fibre2Fashion, 2017). What we should do is to buy fewer clothes and opt for other alternatives, like upcycling and thrift-shopping.


As consumers, we also have to do our part in making sure we do not add on to the demand for unsustainable fast fashion. For one, it is a trend now to upcycle clothes and ‘rework’ old clothes to new and trendy ones. There are many new local Instagram pages dedicated to selling reworked clothing like @plop.apparels and @closetlilo. Alternatively, thrift shopping is also a trend now. In Japan, thrifting is an extremely huge thing – more often than not, their prices can be more expensive than typical fast fashion clothes. There are also dedicated streets to thrift shop in Harajuku and Shinjuku.

The world population is approximated to reach nine billion people by 2030. The environment and its resources will struggle to meet human demands like never before. The goal of circular fashion is to ensure that clothes are made from safe and renewable materials, new business models increase their use, and old clothes are turned into new. This also ensures that ecosystems are protected and people are provided with dignified work. Moreover, turning to thrift shopping can also reduce the demand for unsustainable fast fashion practices.

What is your take on this?


Ellen MacArthur Foundation. (n.d.). Fashion and the circular economy. Retrieved October 23, 2020, from

Fibre2Fashion. (2017). Less than 1% clothing recycled into new clothes: Report. Retrieved October 23, 2020, from

Greening Fashion : Eco-friendly accessories

Having read all about pollution that results from fashion, are we deterring you from making your next purchase? I hope we didn’t! There are still ways for you to look like you just came off the runway through prudent and conscious shopping. One way is through thrifting (which will be shared in our next post), and the other is the use of accessories — eco-friendly accessories — to glam up your overall outfit and look.


Fashion accessories are deemed to be wardrobe essentials, with tons of guides out there showcasing how the most basic outfits can be transformed with the help of accessories. Yet, accessories contribute have negative impacts on the environment as well. For instance, jewellery – made up of silver-plated or gold-plated cheap metals – often have a short lifespan as they are easily tarnished or damaged. With that, they are disposed of and often end up in the landfill (Tegen Jewellery, 2019), thereby contributing to land pollution. Others made of plastic further exacerbate pollution on land, and at sea. The environment is also not spared with jewellery made from authentic gold as numerous harm are brought to the environment in the process of gold mining – ranging from the erosion of land, leakage of harmful chemicals into water bodies, to the alteration of an entire ecosystem (Kirschner, 2017).


That said, does this mean we should avoid buying and using accessories? Well, not really. You can still look glam and be environmentally-friendly at the same time through the use of eco-friendly accessories!



There is a wide array of eco-friendly accessories in the market such as those made with alternative natural materials like shells, seeds, fibres, nuts and dried fruits (Ray, 2019). In particular, SVNR’s handcrafted earrings are made from reused, upcycled and natural materials like seashells.


Another form of eco-friendly accessories are those made from recycled jewellery such as recycled gold jewellery as this will not only give unwanted gold a new lease of life, thereby reducing waste, it also lowers the demand for newly mined gold, reducing environmental impacts associated with gold mining. Recycled gold jewellery can be found in some retailers such as Ana Luisa who prides itself in using 100% recycled gold for its gold jewellery. Likewise, Singapore-grown Scéona is committed to using only lab-grown diamonds and 18k recycled golds in its products.


Besides these, you can also consider reusing unwanted jewellery by going vintage (Kirschner, 2017). A vintage item never goes out of style. What’s better than staying in trend and also being 101% environmental-friendly?!



More than just jewellery, eco-friendly bags are also widely available. For instance, Above Studio uses natural materials such as rattan to highlight the value of nature, our environment and the traditional craftsmanship of Thai villagers.


Eco-friendly eyewear is also available. Eoe Eyewear is one such producer with a collection of sustainable eyewear made from thermoplastic derived from wood pulp – a material that is completely recyclable and biodegradable.

Indeed, eco-friendly accessories are widely available, you just gotta do a tiny little bit of research to find out where you can get them. The examples above are surely non-exhaustive. But one takeaway from today’s post will be: you can definitely stay glam-ed and environmental-friendly at the same time!



Kirschner, C. (2017, June 5). Is There Such a Thing as Eco-Friendly Jewelry?

Tegen Jewellery. (2019, June 23). Absolutely Not-Fabulous – Why Fast-Fashion Jewellery Is Harming The Planet.

Ray, S. (2019, April). New trend in Jewelry industry and Sustainable materials to develop lifestyle products. ResearchGate.

Pollution from Fashion : Shoes

Happy with your newly bought shoes? Why did you purchase it? Because of its brand, design, aesthetic, or comfort? Regardless, it is imperative to know that whatever you are wearing right now, is likely manufactured with harmful chemicals that are released into the environment. This is especially so with sneakers – the go-to fashion piece for all university students.

Different chemicals are involved in the production of different parts of a sneaker. For instance, dyes on logos are made with heavy metals whereas spongy insole is made with polyurethane (Schwab, n.d.). However, they share a commonality – that is, the harmful chemicals involved.

These toxic chemicals, more than just creating health problems for production workers, also pose as an environmental hazard. Used sneakers are often disposed of in harmful ways, such as incineration or dumping them in landfills (Hesperian Health Guides, 2020). Such disposal methods expose the environment to these toxic chemicals embedded in the sneakers!

At landfills, as the sneakers decompose – which takes 30 to 40 years (AIO, 2019), harmful chemicals are emitted. For example, as the soles degrade, chemicals present in the rubber or plastic are slowly released into the environment. Similarly, when incinerated, chemicals are emitted into the atmosphere. The emission of harmful chemicals contributes to air pollution!

The whole pollution thang is pretty complicated given the variety of materials and chemicals involved. BUT, a key takeaway? Many unfavourable chemicals are utilised in the production of shoes and hence, we NEED to observe proper disposal of these ‘chemical-carrying walking aid’.

Nike Grind post-consumer rubber material

Rather than dumping your unwanted shoes in the nearest garbage can, have your used shoes recycled! Some shoe companies have programmes to reuse and recycle old shoes. For instance, Nike. Under its Reuse-A-Shoe program, it recycles athletic sneakers (of any brand) at the end of their life and giving them a new life through Nike Grind. Some of the products that are made with Nike Grind includes football fields, playgrounds, furniture such as carpet padding and gym floor tiles, as well as new Nike apparel and footwear.



AIO. (2019, November 13). Sustainable fashion & sneakers: Here’s why you should approve!

Hesperian Health Guides. (2020, March 7). Pollution from shoe factories.

Schwab, C., Bowman, M., Stringham, S. & Fagan, J. M. (n.d.) Sneakers Running our Environment into the Ground.


Pollution from Fashion : The Woes of Denim

We may not purchase our denim jeans often, but their environmental impact is extremely significant. We use a huge amount of water and chemicals to produce denim jeans. 2 billion jeans are produced annually worldwide, and it’s going to take a large-scale sustained effort to make a meaningful change.

Denim was originally made out of wool, but then it shifted to cotton due to trends. However, there are sustainability issues in cotton cultivation and processing. 1500 gallons of water is needed to grow 1.5 pounds of cotton, which is required to produce only a pair of jeans. Denim jeans produce heavy amounts of water, as mentioned above… “cotton, in general, is a very thirsty crop,” says Tatiana Schlossberg, a former environmental reporter at the New York Times. Producing just 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of cotton can require up to 7,660 gallons of water, depending on where it’s grown. A cotton crop consumes a lot of chemicals too: 16 percent of all insecticides are used on the plant, and many of them pose significant health risks for farm workers and nearby residents. Denim is usually made with indigo-dyed warp yarn and undyed weft yarn. The indigo dye used was natural and derived from a plant source, but later the trend shifted to synthetic indigo dye. However, as seen from the information below, these dyes pose its own separate environmental pollution threat as well.

Information from Vice (2017)


‘Blue River’ in Xintang, China (The Guardian, 2011)

The signature blue dye, indigofera tinctoria, is used to produce the shade of denim blue in jeans today. According to Vice (2011), an average pair of jeans require half an ounce of dye. However, the problem lies in the production of it. In the denim capital of the world in Xintang, China, this pollutive process is very much evident in the rivers and how the production affects the people working and living in the area. Denim jeans production in Xintang, China accounts for one in every three pairs of jeans sold globally. Because of limited regulatory oversight, by 2013 Xintang’s rivers ran a deep blue and smelled foul, a result of manufacturers dumping chemical-laden wastewater directly into local waterways. The picture above shows the river dyed blue from the release of chemicals to the river from jeans production factories. Unsafe amounts of toxic metals like mercury, lead, and copper has been found in the water, which residents rely on for drinking and bathing. Workers and residents have reported rashes, lesions, and, some locals believe, infertility (Guang et al, 2020). Producing only one pair of jeans requires an immense amount of water, energy, and environmental pollution. Apart from the health of the workers, there are also concerns about drinking water for people living downriver. The East River is the source of drinking water for millions of people living in Guangzhou. This threatens the water security of the cities of Dongguan and Shenzhen.

However, it is to note that there are denim brands and other fashion designers that are taking a more sustainable approach to their manufacturing processes.The majority of these processes are fairly new to the denim manufacturing market. With a more inquisitive mind and rational decision-making mindset whilst purchasing your denim, there is hope to the reduction of environmental pollution from denim.

Here’s a full report by Muthu (2017) on the Sustainability in Denim. Areas covered include Denim’s environmental impact, its water footprint, carbon footprint and many more.


Schlossberg, T. (2019, September 03). How Fast Fashion Is Destroying the Planet. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from

Vice. (2017). Your Jeans Are Ruining the Earth. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from

The Guardian. (2011, February 09). The price of success: China blighted by industrial pollution – in pictures. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from

Guang, L., Mingzhuo, J., & Guang, L. (2020, May 14). The denim capital of the world: So polluted you can’t give the houses away. Retrieved October 22, 2020, from

Muthu, S. S., & Textile institute. (2017). Sustainability in denim. Duxford, United Kingdom: Woodhead Publishing is an imprint of Elsevier.

Pollution from Fashion : Clothes


With the recent rise of fast fashion, clothes are increasingly accessible and more affordable than ever – making the task of dolling up so much easier with myriad collections tailored to all ages. But, to all fashionistas out there, are you aware of the environmental impacts associated with your hobby? It is okay if you’re not as pollution impacts from clothes are less obvious and straightforward. Read on to find out more!

The advent of fast fashion has led to an increase in clothing purchases, fed by the doubling of clothing production since the 2000s. On average, people bought 60% more clothes in 2014 than they did in 2000 (McFall-Johnsen, 2020). Sounds relatable? You are probably one of them too given the ease of purchase with the proliferation of technology and e-commerce platforms. However, while people bought more clothes in present-day, clothes are only kept for half as long – probably to keep up with the changing trends?

Yet, the production and consumption of clothes are highly polluting and harmful to the environment.


Fashion is a water-intensive industry, constituting the second-largest consumer of water worldwide. This can be attributed to the use of cotton in clothing. While clothing is made up of various materials, often a blend of fabrics,- cotton is found in 40% of all clothing (Boggon, 2019).

Yet, cotton is a highly water-intensive plant. This has resulted in negative environmental impacts as water bodies risk being depleted when used to irrigate cotton cultivation. A notable example of such a case is the depletion of the Aral Sea resulting from the diversion of two rivers that fed the Aral Sea to irrigate cotton plantations in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan (Boggon, 2019). See the state of Aral Sea in 1989 (left) and in 2008 (right):

Source: (Boggon, 2019)


Post-production, clothes are purchased and consumed by us. Bagging our newly purchased clothes, the excitement to try them on is real. However, with every wear of our clothes, we put it to wash in preparation for the next display of it.

Yet, the act of washing clothes releases 500,000 tons of microfibers into the ocean each year! That is equivalent to 50 billion plastic bottles (McFall-Johnsen, 2020). You may wonder, how so?! Synthetic fibres such as polyester and nylon are present in 72% of all clothes (Boggon, 2019). And polyester is a form of plastic that does not break down in the ocean. It, therefore, contributes to marine pollution with the introduction of microplastics. This is supported by a 2017 report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which estimated that 35% of all microplastics in the ocean came from the laundering of synthetic textiles like polyester (McFall-Johnsen, 2020).


Even at the end of their lifecycle, clothing continues to pollute the environment due to the improper disposal of unwanted clothing. Land pollution is the most common as up to 85% of textiles from unwanted clothing go into landfills each year. That’s enough to fill the Sydney harbour annually (McFall-Johnsen, 2020).

As such, having known the ‘dark’ side towards clothing production and consumption, will you be more mindful of your consumption from now on?



Boggon, C. (2019, March 18). How polluting is the fashion industry?

McFall-Johnsen, M. (2020, January 31). These facts show how unsustainable the fashion industry is.



Pollution from Fashion : The Big Picture of Fast Fashion

With regards to the broader issue of pollution, the introduction sparks off the conversation with the question:

“What are the roles and responsibility of individuals in this broad and prevalent issue?”

Unbeknownst to many, fashion, or most specifically Fast-fashion, contributes an alarmingly large percentage towards individual consumer waste – which often leads to pollution in many countries. And by pollution, we do not just only categorise it to landfill pollution – but more specifically, water pollution.

Fast-fashion is termed as the inexpensive use of clothing produced by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends in fashion, most commonly influenced by pop culture and sudden inspirations from celebrities.

Fast-fashion waste do end up in landfills, with 300,000 tonnes of clothing waste ending up in the UK dumpsters each year, making clothing the largest growing category of waste in the UK (Smithers, 2017). However, water pollution does prove to be a more striking issue. Known to many, and backed by the FreshWaterWatch, Only 2.5% of all the water on Earth is freshwater and more than 97% is saltwater (Water: A Limited Resource?, 2015). This makes water all the more precious. However, with fast-fashion and its water pollution ails, our already reducing source of freshwater gets reduced even further. According to the Environmental Audit Committee, 3781 litres of water is used to wash a pair of Levi’s 501 jeans in its full lifetime (CBBC Newsround, n.d.). That alone is just a single pair of jeans – imagine multiplying this to the millions of jeans produced each year!

To give a more relatable picture to the fashion enthusiasts, ZARA and H&M are said to be one of the very first fast-fashion retailers. But both fashion giants have come a long way ever since. H&M in particular have already started with their own sustainability campaign to address the negative consequences of what they presumably started. In 2011, H&M started the Conscious Campaign to help curb its fast-fashion waste contribution (RecycleNation, 2011). However, it only started gaining more attention in recent years. Below is an excerpt of what their 2019 goal was :

H&M Conscious Exclusive 2019 : “ Throughout the month of April, H&M will not only celebrate their sustainability actions and goals as a company, but also highlight the Conscious Collection in stores all around the world. H&M are proud that the entire collection has been made from sustainably-sourced materials, which not only emphasises the H&M Group’s status as one of the world’s largest users of organic cotton, Tencel and recycled polyester, but also shows the continued efforts, commitment and progress we are making for a sustainable fashion future.”

To bring light to this issue, H&M is not the only one taking active steps to tackle the negative consequences of fast-fashion. Other companies like Rent the Runway – like its namesake, allows consumers to rent from a whole catalogue through an online shop, which is quickly showing its dominance in the fashion world with a booming 10 million active members. Another company would be Patagonia, which advocates an anti-fashion environmental message. At first glance, this might seem odd and off-putting, however, they do rack up sales because of their vision!

Thinking of giving them a try? Check out the links below!

1. Rent the Runway –

2. Patagonia –

Find out more about this topic here:


Smithers, R. (2017, July 11). UK households binned 300,000 tonnes of clothing in 2016. Retrieved from

Water: A Limited Resource? (2015, May 13). Retrieved from

How your love of fashion could be harming the environment – CBBC Newsround. (n.d.). Retrieved from

RecycleNation. (2011, May 13). H&M Launches Conscious Collection. Retrieved from

H&M Launches Conscious Collection