Here’s a dilemma.
I bought this skirt during a clothes swap last year and although it’s on the tight side now with my post lockdown weight lol, I like the print and the colour.
It’s a Shein skirt. It’s made of 100% polyester. Plastic. Probably even coated with some extra sh*te to keep the pleats in place.
Shein (previously She Inside) is a complete mystery. No phone number, no email and certainly no press contact to be found online. Even the name of its founder remains a total enigma. It’s even harder to find out about the factories these cheap garments are being made let alone the ethics and the eco credentials of Shein, probably none whatsoever.
When we buy from companies like Shein, we support the ugliest face of second hand fast fashion because:
- They promote over consumption
- They are made of plastic and worse even: they are treated as single use garments
- Ultimately all of us ending up paying the external cost, the true cost for the unsustainable consumption and production of cheap clothing
- A wild guess because they don’t share any info about it: unethically produced, exploiting their workers and suppliers.
So here’s my dilemma.
These items already been manufactured, sold and are in circulation (well…) So this is a second hand fast fashion purchase. But micro plastics are still being leached into waste water when I wash it (probably only washed it twice. i try to wash these things as little as possible). This is the problem. What are we meant to do with items like this?
Keep using them, since we have got them? Avoid them even second hand? Send them to landfill? Cut them up and recycle them? Is that even possible? Give them away so it’s not our problem?
I don’t know the answer to this.
I find this a really interesting and difficult debate. I buy all my clothes second hand but I don’t want to be contributing to microplastics pollution. I try to apply my previous purchasing decisions from when I used to buy new. But then sometimes I think… does it just need to be used more to justify the eco footprint. Will follow the debate with interest.
I wish there was a better solution for textiles like this. I don’t have the answer but hope someone does’
I think the solution is to support secondhand clothing that is already in circulation, but to only buy ethical / more eco-friendly clothing when shopping new and this will hopefully end the fast fashion / synthetic fibre problem. It’s definitely a complicated situation! I sometimes hate how we are feeling guilty about all this, when really the manufacturers, retailers and governments should be held accountable.
I think supporting second hand is the answer. I know I do and I donate lots too
There is a way that makes it all ok I think! Wash it inside a Guppy Bag which collects any microplastic residue, wear for as long as you enjoy it, then donate to a charity again or if beyond repair deliver to a fabric recycling drop off point (at recycling centers and some council car parks)