The bottom line is that we urgently need to make changes to live more sustainably

OPINION: The public can make a real difference by avoiding fast fashion and supporting #SecondHandSeptember, writes Fiona O’Malley (pictured) of World Vision Ireland which is a child-focused overseas aid agency helping children in emergency situations.

WITH the hugely damaging global growth of fast fashion, clothing production has doubled from 2000 to 2014, with more than 150 billion garments now produced annually and 73 per cent of all textiles ending up in landfill od incineration.

Textiles are the fourth largest cause of environmental pressure and climate change has had catastrophic impacts on the developing world. World Vision Ireland is calling on the Irish public to avoid fast fashion and to support #SecondHandSeptember by only buying garments from charity shops instead.

Fast fashion refers to the mass production and mass disposal of clothes and this cycle of throwaway fashion is putting a huge amount of pressure on our planet and is utterly unsustainable.

Textiles also cause the second highest pressure on land use and are the fifth largest contributor to carbon emissions from household consumption. Our transport, food consumption and fashion addiction patterns are more than just a commute, a dinner or clicking the checkout button.

Our everyday choices have direct consequences in the form of polluted air, child labour, a melting glacier and rising sea levels. We all have a part to play in fixing our fractured planet, but time is running out. We now have an opportunity to consider the role we all need to play for the survival of the next generation and the planet.

The charity urged people to use September to reassess consumption patterns and the impact it has in the first world but also on the most vulnerable in the developing world, who face the worst impacts of climate change.

Many communities across the globe are displaced because of crop failure, famine, floods or extreme weather conditions which are a direct result of global warming.

If every person in Ireland avoided buying any new clothes in September, it would make a hugely positive change to the climate crisis.

Going cold turkey and vowing to never buying another clothing garment again may be unrealistic for many people, which is why buying clothes that already exist, in vintage or charity shops, is a great idea. By buying second hand, you are still getting new but pre-loved pieces, instead of contributing to a supply chain that has very damaging environmental effects.

The bottom line is that we urgently need to make changes to live more sustainably. This involves planting billions of trees, turning away from fast fashion and heavily reducing our food waste.

World Vision Ireland is a child-focused overseas aid agency. We help children in emergency situations, through public and corporate donations, and with the generous support of Irish Aid.

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