Your Donated Clothes are Burning, Courtesy of Fast Fashion

Your Donated Clothes are Burning, Courtesy of Fast Fashion

Non-Fast Fashion & Capsule Wardrobes May be the Cure. 

European Correspondent and ABC News Reporter, Linton Besser recently wrote an article on the waste crisis in Ghana. It outlined the dirty secret created by the world’s fast fashion addiction, and the misguidance that donating our clothes makes up for our buying habits. Breaking news: it doesn’t.

In Accra, Ghana there lies a 65-foot tall cliff made of landfill (of which 60% is clothing). The western world (UK, Europe, America, and Even Australia) sends about 15 million used garments every week to “poor” “struggling” countries, under the guise of donation. What did we think? That they’d just pass out our old bell-bottom jeans for free? No. Our leftovers are sent to Ghana to be resold and reused– IF they’re good enough.  

It’s a bit of an assumption to believe that Africans are thankful for anything, even worn rags. But the truth is about 40% of the clothes received are too poor quality and dumped into the landfill. An example of this is a seller in Ghana who spent $90 on a bale of clothes but could only sell $20 worth, because of sweat stains, missing buttons, and even bloodstains. This seller goes on saying, “In Europe, the UK and Australia, America, they think [that in] Africa here, sorry to say, we are not like human beings.”

The culprit? Low- and poor-quality made clothing courtesy of fast fashion. Because of their quality, these items never get a second chance at life in Ghana, but rather end up in the landfill. We live in an era of quick (seasonal) changes to trends and styles directly driven by social media and brands– creating an environmental catastrophe.

The statistics for you: Global production of clothing has doubled since 2000, with consumers buying 60% more clothes today than we did 15 years ago. The issue is that their lifespan with us only lasts half as long. ABC reported on a study in the UK that claimed that 1 of 3 women consider clothes “old” if worn more than twice. Much of this has to do with the fast changing trends caused by fast fashion, where styles used to change seasonally (FW & SS) now we live in a timeless loop of 52 micro-seasons


Not only that, it is that we KNOW we have a problem. Fashion brands know that they overproduce by around 40%, and count on it. Burberry (2018) destroyed $50 million worth of product. H&M (2018) didn’t sell $5 billion worth of inventory. This overproduction is single handedly due to a belief that convenience is a human right and that we should always find what we want.

We’ve created an almost out of sight out of mind mentality in regards to our clothing waste. But just because you can’t see the large landfill clothing fires happening in Ghana, doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect YOUR sky.

So how do we fix this? I mean, come on, the world can’t be THAT bad. And the truth is that you CAN do something. If you are familiar with the economic concept of supply and demand, then you know that to stop brands from overproducing and creating excess waste, we need to stop demanding it from them. Therefore the answer is non-fast fashion.

The best thing we can do for the environment (while maintaining our creative liberty) is to become an outfit repeater and indulge in an immaculate capsule wardrobe. 

Non-fast fashion, AKA slow fashion or sustainable fashion, is high quality products made from good materials that are made to last. Non-fast fashion also takes into consideration the manufacturing process on top of material sourcing. All in all you can think of it as the opposite of fast fashion (which is trend-based, poorly made, and made to last… a season).

Because non-fast fashion items are made to last quite a while, it seems only right to consider a capsule wardrobe: which is a select few items that you can mismatch to create a number of cute outfits for varying occasions. You may be familiar with the concept from the influencers who try to fit 20 instagram photos into a single luggage during their vacation.

So what does it take to create a fail-safe wardrobe? Firstly consider shoes. Find yourself a good pair of well crafted shoes, either cute sneakers, booties, or clogs for Fall. Make sure you really like them, because we want you to RUN THEM INTO THE GROUND.

Next consider your style and what you gravitate towards on the daily. For me? It’s jeans and a top. So I would consider a good pair of jeansa couple of tees, maybe a sweater or cardigan, a blazer, and maybe even a skirt if I want to switch it up.

Overall your goal is to get a few pieces that go a long way, and most importantly, pieces that make YOU feel good. Because no matter how much the media has made you believe that every fashion season is vastly different from the last, when Fall hits, are you really wearing something besides jeans/pants and a sweater? Idk… Worth considering.

The more you can focus on making your clothing last, the less you have to worry about spending more money on storage, more money on more clothes, and wondering what you should donate– because at the end of the day, your clothes aren’t going anywhere important if they’re not on you.

Avoid the environmental catastrophe, do yourself a favor and shop non-fast fashion. Your co-workers won’t notice that those are the same jeans you wore yesterday, and your drunk date REALLY won’t notice.