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Waste isn’t waste until we waste it

Bedford Sixth Student

Story by Lily Bonas 

Our school allows us to wear our own clothes. Great for self expression, not so great for the environment.  

Eco-fashion is a term describing products, processes, activities, and people that aim to achieve a carbon-neutral fashion industry built on equality, social justice, animal welfare, and ecological integrity.  

Instead of buying all clothing brand new, use charity shops, swap shops, car boot sales and online second-hand clothing sites like Depop and Vinted.

Many of our favourite high street clothing stores are ‘green washing’. This means they are using the “trend” of sustainability for profit rather than actually being sustainable. Shockingly only 1% of clothes are currently being made from recycled material yet how many times have you seen “made from recycled material” on labels?  

The materials we choose to purchase have detrimental effects. A good rule of thumb is to avoid virgin synthetics, such as polyester – which makes up 55% of clothing globally. These are derived from fossil fuels and take years to break down. Instead, we can opt for something like organic cotton which uses significantly less water than conventional cotton and doesn’t use harmful pesticides.

When it comes to cotton and wool products a good thing to look out for is the Global Organic Textile Standard on the labels, just as you would for a fair-trade label when buying a banana. Make it a habit!  

It is difficult to avoid synthetics altogether, for example nylon and elastane are still required in activewear and underwear to get that all-important stretch. We can avoid causing harm to the environment by washing them sustainably. During just one wash thousands of microplastics can be released into our waterways and oceans, causing harm to marine life when they ingest the tiny particles.

Luckily, there’s a simple solution! We can invest in a microplastics filter such as a Guppyfriend washing bag or a Cora Ball, which are available on Amazon. A good label to keep an eye out for is the made in green by OEKO-TEX and Bluesign certifications which set out requirements for chemical usage during the manufacturing process because the chemicals that are used to treat our clothes pose serious risk to not only the environment but the workers as well. 

Between 4 and 10% of what goes into land fill per annum is still produced by the fashion industry. 92 million tonnes of waste last year alone.

The changes outlined are so easy to make. Right in front of our eyes. Why don’t we make a change? If we don’t, we might have to wear uniform… nobody wants that! 

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Here you can find the full selection of stories from our student newspaper.

POV: Student