I was recently asked for my thoughts on fast fashion, the cost to the environment and its impact on the mental health of our children and teenagers. I feel it’s an essential question with two boys of my own (one almost 13). That said, the ‘Gen Z’ generation has already shown they care deeply about the environment and sustainability, but the influence major fashion brands have across social media can be particularly concerning, especially when compared to my upbringing.
For many people (and not just kids), the guilt of mindless shopping can disrupt their healthy and happy mentality. It can even cause depression, anxiety, and thoughts of worthlessness, but we’re now reaching a crossroads within our constantly ‘plugged-in’ society. There is no end of content to explore on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and TikTok — it’s relentless! That said, there can be some benefits from children being served content tailored to their own interests.
There are positive media role models who embody the values you pass down to your kids
It’s all too easy to say ‘social media is having a detrimental impact on our kids’ mental health’, and this may especially be true regarding the pressure of fast fashion, which is moving in almost a weekly cycle! There are, however, plenty of positive role models out there who can positively influence and educate your teenager so they make healthy and sustainable choices.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
For many, the reduce, reuse and recycle mantra is ingrained in decision-making. You could say in recent years it’s become trendy to be environmentally conscious, minimising waste whilst shopping for ethically made kids’ clothing over fast fashion. Greta Thunberg is a fine example, always brave enough to speak from her heart, exposing exploitation, selfishness and greed. What better role model for our children? Last year she was in the spotlight for her comments on ethical fast fashion being “pure greenwashing”, and I couldn’t agree more.
She said: “Many are making it look as if the fashion industry is starting to take responsibility, by spending fantasy amounts on campaigns where they portray themselves as ‘sustainable’, ‘ethical’, ‘green’, ‘climate neutral’ and ‘fair’. But let’s be clear: This is almost never anything but pure greenwashing. You cannot mass produce fashion or consume ‘sustainably’ as the world is shaped today. That is one of the many reasons why we will need a system change.”
Fast fashion cannot be sustainable
By its very definition, sustainable fashion is defined as clothing that is both ethically produced and environmentally friendly, whereas fast fashion is seen to be the polar opposite. So how do kids keep up with the world of fashion, feel confident and drive sustainability?
As a parent, I know I can’t tell my kids what’s cool, but I can do my bit to educate them by informing them. Knowledge is crucial in shifting a teenager’s perception of what is fashionable, and I see it as my role to at least show them quality alternatives to mainstream fashion. With so much information available through social media, YouTube, and the internet, it’s perhaps more likely that children, teenagers and young adults are more mindful of their wardrobe’s longevity. It’s no secret that some of the most sustainable clothes you can find are versatile staples, which can work well for a casual or formal look.
Here at Elves in the Wardrobe, our clothing is not just timeless, but it’s easy to care for and sustainable for the washing machine or by gently hand washing it. We’re committed to supporting happy and healthy farming methods, physically making clothes without harmful chemicals or dyes. The clothing we provide is so durable it’s often eventually passed down to younger siblings, standing up to every puddle splash, accident and tumble they might encounter as they journey through life.
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