Can fast fashion go green? Or are the most eco-friendly clothes the ones already in your wardrobe?

The fashion industry is reporting something quite remarkable:

Fast-Fashion Chain Primark Vows to Improve Environmental Impact | BoF

And the mainstream press is also impressed:

Primark pledges to slash ‘fast fashion’ waste: Bosses vow to produce eco-friendly clothing | Daily Mail Online

Asos and Primark set out new green pledges – BBC News

But others would suggest we need to look a little further:

“Some argue that fast fashion is fundamentally incapable of being sustainable. Journalist Frankie Leach argues for Euronews Green that “exploitation and sweatshops are at the core of fast fashion.”

Others highlight how the word ‘sustainable’ is vague enough that it allows brands to effectively greenwash their harmful actions, without making any meaningful change.

How can you shop sustainably on a low income?

This is something people have been debating for years. Typically, truly sustainable brands have higher price points – largely because they ensure their workers are fairly paid and their materials are responsibly sourced.

Mathematically, it isn’t possible to sell a t-shirt for €1.50 and ensure the worker who made it is being paid fairly. But, as many of you asked on Twitter, there must be a middle-ground between a €100 ethically made top and a €1.50 top that relies on worker exploitation.

Primark is certainly looking to fill that gap. “We believe that sustainability shouldn’t be priced at a premium that only a minority can afford,” adds Primark CEO Paul Marchant. “Because of who we are, we believe we have the opportunity to make more sustainable fashion choices affordable to all.”

Even if an item of clothing is made in the greenest way possible, with everyone involved in its manufacture fairly compensated – it is still not sustainable if it isn’t needed. Sustainability is also about our consumption levels. If we buy the greenest, most ethical item of clothing in the world – if we don’t actually need it, it’s not sustainable.

“The most eco-friendly clothes are the ones already in your closet,” Rose Marcario, former president and CEO of Patagonia, says.

Primark is going 100% sustainable – but how will that fix our overconsumption problem? | Euronews