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Slow down on fast fashion

by Michael Ford last modified 23 Feb, 2022 04:33 PM

Slow down on fast fashion urges Tearfund, as survey shows environmental concerns are a low priority for shoppers.

Fewer than one in four UK adults (23%) have cited concern for the environment as the main reason why they would buy fewer clothes. And the majority of us (57%) own new clothes we have never worn, according to a survey from international development charity Tearfund. 

The survey, which was conducted by Savanta ComRes, also shows the carbon footprint of new clothing was the top consideration for only 4% of clothes purchasers and the same proportion (4%) ranked ethical concerns about how clothing is made as their top priority. 

The results reveal there’s plenty of room for adults in the UK to pull their socks up with regard to their wardrobes, to help reduce the fashion industry’s contribution to the climate crisis.   

Most people gave saving money (54%) and getting the most value out of existing clothes (43%) as the main reasons they would abstain from new purchases. Only 11% said a preference for ‘pre-loved’ clothing kept them from entering the fast fashion cycle. 

Emotional attachment to clothes, however, motivates many people to get more use out of them: 76% of 18-34 year olds would hold onto and re-wear items for sentimental reasons, although only 58% of over 55s feel the same about their threads. 

Tearfund ambassador and actor David Gyasi is taking part in the charity’s ‘Great Fashion Fast’ challenge, to highlight the link between the fashion industry and the climate crisis. In March he will join hundreds of others being sponsored to sport only ten main items of clothing for the whole month. 

David Gyasi says ‘We buy more clothes per person in the UK than any other country in Europe (1), and every item takes resources such as water, land and petrochemicals to produce,’ adding ‘and then, shockingly, three out of five fast fashion items end up in landfill (2) where they may take hundreds of years to decompose.’ 

One of David Gyasi’s 10 clothing items for The Great Fashion Fast will be a much-loved jacket made by a clothing co-operative in Rwanda called Urukundo (meaning ‘love’), who launched their business by gathering and sewing together unwanted scraps of fabric.  

Dr Ruth Valerio, Tearfund's director of Global Advocacy and Influencing says `Our throwaway attitude to clothes means we have helped make the fashion industry’s carbon footprint higher than that of shipping and aviation combined (1). This is contributing to the climate crisis, but we can all reduce our carbon footprints by making more considered purchases and loving what we’ve already got for longer. 

‘Tearfund’s survey has shown that most people are more likely to reuse clothes that have a sentimental value, and what better way is there to invest clothes with memories than to wear them more often!’  

To find out more about Tearfund’s Great Fashion Fast challenge, visit     #GreatFashionFast 


1: Source:  House of Commons report Sustainability of the fashion industry citing Ellen Macarthur Foundation, a New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future (2017) . Textile production produces an estimated 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent (CO2e) per year - more than international flights and maritime shipping combined. 

2: Source: Clean Clothes Campaign 

Photo Credit: Tom Price

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